‘I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart’
Through Feb. 19
1501 14th St., N.W.
Tickets start at $20
As both titular and practical leader of Morgan Gould & Friends, a New York-based theater company, Morgan Gould writes and directs pop culture satires. Its 13 members — Gould’s friends — are mostly longtime collaborators she met at Fordham University where she majored in directing.
“It’s really not hard to get in the company,” she says. “All you have to do is ask, really.”
With her new play “I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart,” a funny and dark play about friendship and the politics of niceness and beauty, Gould steps away from her satiric comfort zone.
“It’s a straightforward and hopefully well-made play,” says Gould who’s also directing the dramedy. For the play’s D.C. premier at Studio Theatre, she brings along company members out actor Tommy Heleringer and Anna O’Donoghue who play Leo and Chloe, and a new friend, Nicole Spiezio, who leads the cast as Samantha.
Loquacious, energetic and refreshingly brash, Gould is delighted that her work is in production at legitimate regional theater. So much so, she was even willing to change the play’s provocative title (proudly lifted from the song “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge that Gould first heard sung by Lady Gaga on TV’s “American Horror Story”) if Studio’s hierarchy thought it was too much. They didn’t.
Last week at Studio’s second-floor lobby, Gould, Heleringer and Spiezio (all 30-ish) sat down before rehearsal to chat with the Blade.
GOULD: There is a famous Morgan Gould. It’s not me. He’s a hot, black South African soccer star. But I got on Twitter before him so my Twitter handle is @morgangould so I get tweeted all the time. Stuff like, “Sorry about your injury.” And I reply, “It’s OK man.” Sometimes it gets contentious. Little do they know they’ve tweeted some fat playwright who looks like actress Lori Beth Denberg.
WASHINGTON BLADE: So what’s this violently titled play about?
NICOLE SPIEZIO: Tommy and I play best friends Leo and Samantha. He’s a gay man and I’m a fat woman but we’re more than that. We’re also writers and roommates. So we spend a lot of time together.
GOULD: Co-dependent has been bandied about, which I’m not so crazy about because it’s in part based on me and my gay friend.
SPIEZIO: It’s about that critical juncture in your life when college ends but you don’t want it to end because the friends you made at college have become your family so you keep it going. Over that year after college, Leo and Samantha are figuring out what’s next for them. My character has a boyfriend and her career is taking off. Leo is still trying to find his path.
BLADE: Have you been in a relationship like this in real life?
TOMMY HELERINGER: Of course. It’s scarily relatable. During rehearsal I’ve been pulling things from what I’ve had with them.
SPIEZIO: Yes, all fat girls have gay male friends. The fat girl/gay man trope is alive and well.
GOULD: Unless you’re fat and dumb. But if you’re fat and slightly smart, you will have gay male friends. The fat woman/gay male friendship is an intoxicating relationship. When I was writing the play I thought about the most important relationships of my life and those are with my best gay guy friends. We know what hate looks like. When I walk in a room, I know immediately which person hates fat people. They don’t have to say a word. You learn that early. And gay men learn who hates them really early too. We find each other like a safe haven, a place where we can be mean and funny together. It’s us against the world. But as you age, you can shed that because you don’t need that protection. This doesn’t mean that these friendships end necessarily. They just change. Our characters are arriving at that place. Growth is good but it’s painful. I hate terms like fruit fly or fag hag. Smart fat women love gay men. We’re both traumatized. It’s complicated. It’s not like shopping and watching “Project Runway” all the time, though that’s part of it.
BLADE: Back to the play. What else happens?
SPIEZIO: So another woman intrudes on Leo and Samantha’s close friendship. Chloe is Leo’s co-worker and they’re becoming friends outside of work. She’s a threat on several levels: she’s thin, a little younger and she doesn’t read as special. She’s basic. Samantha can’t understand how her friend Leo who has the best taste in the world could like this not-terribly smart of funny woman. Samantha can’t fathom why he’d bring her into our space. Her instinct is to say no rather than yes. As a fat woman, she feels people see her as one thing and if it’s negative, it’s their worst nightmare. Any young, thin, flighty girl really needs to prove herself. Samantha is a really great part for a fat woman. There aren’t a lot.
GOULD: This play is from our lives. It turns out one of my first gay best friend from high school was one of Nicole’s gay best friends in college.
BLADE: Tommy, do you and Nicole hang out like best friends offstage? Is life imitating art?
HELERINGER: We tried but it didn’t really work. But seriously, I’m not nuts about that stuff. We didn’t say, “Let’s go home and do improv,” or anything. But yes, we are friends outside of rehearsal and are spending time together. We’re the only people we really know in the city.
BLADE: Tommy is gay. What about you women?
GOULD: I feel fatness queerizes you. But yes, we like men.
BLADE: And why should LGBT theatergoers come?
GOULD: This play is a gift. It’s so gay and fat. Starts as a comedy and evolves as conflicts arise. There’s a drag number and a dance number. If I could take out a billboard it would read, “This is a play for you. Not a pretend play for you, but a real play.”