Meet Harsh Gagoomal

September 6, 2017

Meet Harsh Gagoomal, an Indian American actor in "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" written by Kristoffer Diaz and directed by Jeremy Aluma for Red Theater. This thrilling play won the Obie Award, the National Latino Playwriting Award, and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity" drop-kicks and body-slams its way into an intimacy with Macedonio Guerra, a professional “fall guy” as culture and race are distorted and deranged in the name of selling tickets to white bread Americans. Tickets to this exciting and important play are donation based and can be purchased here. The play closes September 16, 2017. 

What's your personal story?

My life's journey has taken me to quite a few places as a third culture Indian kid, having been born in New York yet having spent the majority of my adolescence in Manila, Philippines. It was only after graduating high school that I moved back to the United States where I attended Emerson College ('13) in Boston. After graduation, I spent much of my time acting and directing in the region with a particular focus on developing new plays and cultivating stories that had some sense of social consciousness. Stories that I've been extremely passionate about sharing have been those concerned with belonging, xenophobia, homelessness, and sexual assault. As an artist, it's always been my goal to tell stories that have larger implications than mere entertainment, which is why moving to Chicago just over two months ago and getting to jump into The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity has been such a blessing! 

What's your character's story in "The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity"?

The story of my character, Vigneshwar Paduar (otherwise known as VP), is that of an young, affluent Indian-American Brooklynite who captivates Mace (our protagonist) with his charisma and ability to defy expectations about how people see his lanky brown existence in the world. VP is a smooth talker who can trash talk and pick up girls in six different languages, backing it all up with timely no look passes on the basketball court and multiple ripple-effect orgasms in the bedroom. As a solo-act for the entirety of his life, VP finds in Mace a sense of community and brotherhood as well as the offer of a new challenge that awaits him in the world of professional wrestling. The only catch is that both Mace and VP are given terrorist gimmicks upon arrival that they can only try to make the best out of. In his attempt to take up the challenge and rip the terms of it to his own fashionable shreds, VP runs into the status quo that is Chad Deity, a man who has no problem letting VP and Mace known about the pecking order in place. 

What challenges does your character face telling this story?

I'd say that one of the main challenges VP faces is his attempt to maintain his sense of self - his authenticity and self-respect - as he and Mace are forced down a spiraling path of caricature and imposed decisions that challenge any sense of originality and change they hoped to create. This is made especially harder with Mace's inability to speak up and defend their work, leaving VP to fend for himself at various points. 

How does the character overcome those challenges?

VP attempts to overcome the challenges that face him by defying expectations any way he knows how, verbally at first, and then ultimately, physically - by waking up Mace in the harshest way possible (no pun intended) in order to spur him to tell his truth. 

Any other comments?

This is a story ya'll definitely don't want to miss! I hope to see you there! :)

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Mia Park
Mia Park shares her passion of discovery through teaching yoga and acting. Currently studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Mia is also a producer, writer, motivator, and celebrator of life. Mia has lived in Chicago for over twenty years and calls this city that works her home.

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DePaul student Harmony Zhang ​acts in The House of Bernarda Alba​​ by Federico García Lorca, directed by Jeremy Aluma​. ​Lorca’s final play set in the provincial Andalusia, Spain, ignites with the funeral service of Bernarda Alba’s second husband. Ever determined that her five grown daughters maintain a house of honor, Bernarda declares they will have an eight-year mourning period of absolute seclusion. When the eldest daughter receives a large inheritance, potentially sweeping her away from this fate and into an engagement with a handsome bachelor, conflict brews among the sisters repressed by Bernarda’s rule. Set in a time of tumultuous political climate, this story explores the underbelly of what happens when a tyrant seizes power. The House of Bernarda Alba runs Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM November 7, through November 12, 2017. Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 What's your personal story? I grew up in Tucson, Arizona as one of very few Chinese Americans in my neighborhood. I remember that my sister and I were the only Chinese kids in my whole elementary school. However, my family attended a Chinese church in downtown Tucson, and I also attended Tucson Chinese School where I learned to read and write Mandarin Chinese. I’m very thankful for the persistence that my parents had to have my sister and me grow up learning Chinese and holding on to our ethnic culture. However, growing up, I felt like I was never fully Chinese nor fully American. I didn’t feel the need to blend in with the other kids, but I also desired to connect better with others. An opportunity came up in kindergarten when the entire grade put on a show for the whole school. This was the first time that I felt like I was part of a team, part of a larger group effort to create something fun and beautiful. I remember that year, our production was called ‘To the Future and Beyond,’ and I sang the final solo of the show. In middle school and high school, I continued to take drama classes whenever possible. I loved learning about the lives of people so different from me, memorizing my lines, and sharing those stories with audiences. In college at Duke University, I decided to major in Psychology and Theater Studies, and also performed in three of the Theater Department’s Mainstage shows. Currently, I’m in my second year of my MFA in Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. What's your character's story in "The House of Bernarda Alba”? My character’s name is Angustias, which means anguish or distress. She is the eldest unmarried daughter of Bernarda Alba and is already 39. Angustias is the sole daughter of Bernarda Alba’s former husband, while the rest of her sisters are the daughters of Antonio Maria Benavides, the man they are all mourning at the top of the show. Angustias’ father was rich, so when Antonio Maria Benavides dies and the property must be divided, Angustias’ share of the estate is much larger than that of her sisters. This wealth that Angustias has is then attractive to Pepe, who is trying to marry her, and while Angustias truly believes that he loves her for her, she really just wants to be loved and free from the oppression and alienation she feels within the walls of Bernarda’s house. What challenges does your character face telling this story? Angustias is constantly struggling with the antagonistic energy she receives from her sisters. No matter what she does, her sisters find some way to make her feel even more alienated and separate from the group. No one really gives her a chance to share more about herself. Angustias is always defending herself, but somehow it always comes off as offensive towards her sisters. She doesn’t feel understood. She wants her mother’s approval, but also doesn’t feel fully understood by her either. Angustias has a hard time in this story, because she doesn’t feel like anyone is on her side. How does the character overcome those challenges? Angustias changes throughout the play—I won’t give away too much, but in some ways, Angustias is redeemed from all of her bitterness at the end of the play when her sisters discover how they have wronged her. While Angustias behaved more out of spite at the top of the show, she begins to genuinely ask for help, advice, and empathy at the end of the play. Angustias overcomes her challenges of alienation towards the end of the play when she risks being judged by her mother and sisters by being more vulnerable, and seeking to find the truth, even if she gets hurt in the end. Any other comments? I hope that this play helps audience members to be thankful for the people in life who love them, to hold them close, and to try to understand each other instead of being blinded by individual desires. Why not work together? Why not be a team and create something beautiful? Life is too short not to make the most of it every day. Thank you so much for your time!
Mia Park