Imagine having the opportunity to create your own play. I’m talking building it from the ground up - writing it, developing it, casting it, marketing it, and yes, starring in it. Most people would be lucky to pull off one of these skills, but having knowledge in every area, while maintaining your sense of humor? That’s genius!
Young actor and now playwright Gianmarco Soresi did just that, and is now basking in his creation, thanks to the New York International Fringe Festival.
“For a young playwright, the Fringe creates such a special opportunity, and that is producing a play on your own,” he said. “I can say that a had a show run Off-Broadway. It’s hard work, but it’s definitely worth it.”
His play, <50%, was chosen this past spring and premiered in August. Now part of the FringeNYC Encore Series at the SoHo Playhouse, <50% will provide theatergoers with a unique and enjoyable experience, as well as some good laughs. (Read our review here.)
When his five-year relationship ended, Gianmarco decided to write a play about it -- which is which is what the audience is now seeing. He leaves it up to us to decide what is true. Re-creating the relationship was an eye-opening experience for Soresi, as he discovered what was really going on beneath the surface.
“For me, there’s a lot of feelings and they exist whether you express them on stage or not,” he said. “When you get the chance to express them artistically, or in a way that you are kind of controlling, it’s as if you are acknowledging what it already there. It feels like I am doing something with the harder sides of life and I like that something.”
Just like any other twenty-something dealing with the same issues, Soresi appreciates the value of pure, human connection.
“When you are on stage, you get to share your experience with other people and occasionally someone will understand, making you feel like you have a friend or an ally, and that’s nice,” he explained.
There’s something really special about the impact of a performance in the theater, and being a huge fan of TV, Soresi enjoys the contrast that a live show offers.
“There’s so much good, straightforward drama in TV and in movies, so when I go to the theater, I want something that only can be experienced live,” he explained. “With this show, this is in the moment happening to me, and I’m here right now.”
<50% began as a stand-up comedy act; now, the play offers the best of both worlds, as the audience experiences those comical breaks while following the course of the relationship on stage.
“My motivation for the stand-up was to explore the realities of what is presented in this comedic light,” Soresi said. “Being an actor has forced me to address my comedic tendencies -- there will always be a battle with myself, to see what I’m not addressing when I enter that comic mode.”
“By writing the play and then trying to act the play truthfully, I had to re-explore the stand-up and the way I performed it, so I didn’t shut off the vulnerable parts of me. It makes it feel much more like story-telling than what people may stereotypically assume is stand-up comedy,” he added.
In the play, Soresi is presented as being cynical about love and marriage while his ex, Laura Catalano, loves love. After being presented with the meaning of <50%, as it relates to the chances of a marriage working out, with the percentage dropping the second and third time, one can only wonder if all hope is lost. Soresi does not disappoint and has a breakthrough before the end of the play, giving the audience a glimpse into his vulnerable side. This point is crucial and serves as a reminder that we are all multi-faceted human beings and connected through our struggles, desires and emotions.
“Going through life, I’m still a cynical person, when it comes to the institution of marriage, but at the same time, I have the same wants -- wanting the love of one’s life and being able to dedicate your life to that partner -- so it’s that constant back and forth battle,” he said. “Those views that I express are mine, but it’s a mix - I am a cynic, seeing the divorce system, but I do want a soul mate. It’s really a battle, an everyday struggle and I don’t think the answer is clear.”
By sharing his struggle in a comedic way and using skepticism to poke fun at the many popular beliefs surrounding dating and relationships, Soresi succeeded at finding a unique and effective way to connect with a modern audience, and that is teaching us to laugh at our ourselves in the midst of the insanity. But one question remains:
What is the truth in all of this?
Soresi broke it down. “At the end of the day we are human beings and we don’t function in a mechanical sense,” he said. “ I think the world that we live in now, we know the realities more and more and those are always going to battle with our feelings.”
Well, Soresi shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to figure it out. With experience in television, stand-up, writing and singing, Soresi plans to continue sharpening his skill set, while seeing where the journey will take him -- and promises to share some laughs along the way.
Don’t miss <50% in the FringeNYC Encore Series as it offers five performances at the Soho Playhouse. Dates and times are below:
Monday 9/15 at 9:00pm
Friday 9/19 at 7:00pm
Monday 9/22 at 8:00pm
Monday 9/29 at 9:30pm
Saturday 10/4 at 5:00pm
Readers are invited to enter a special promotion code (FES15) at checkout and will receive $3 off! Get your tickets here: https://bit.ly/YYu17a and make sure to check Facebook for all the updates: www.Facebook.com/lessthanfiftypercent
As another treat, the first season of Gianmarco Soresi’s web series An Actor Unprepared can be viewed here:
<50% will be performed at the Soho Playhouse September 15 through October 4 as part of the FringeNYC Encore Series.