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Interview with Mike Broemmel on His Play Goddess People
By: Torchmark USA
By Paul Sheridan
Goddess People by Mike Broemmel is a three-act play that unfolds on the stage in real time. Goddess People tells the tale of six people who intend to spend a leisurely afternoon in a fashionable shop located in resort town in the Middle East. Friends, this is their standard course. Taking tea and chatting are the order of day, as is usually the case for them.
As the clock ticks, the small group of people assembled in the shop slowly learn that their town is under siege by insurgents intent on taking the village by force. Ultimately, they realize that they are not likely to leave the shop alive. Goddess People is a character study of how six very different people face what is likely to be the final minutes of their life.
Goddess People is one of about a dozen plays by Mike Broemmel currently in production in the United States. The Row was the first play written by Broemmel to reach the stage. The Row, with techniques reminiscent of those used by Arthur Miller in Death of a Salesman, tells the story of a man on death row heading to the gallows. The Baptism is a shocking take on intolerance, a play with a Twilight Zone feel.
When asked if he is trying to make a statement with his plays, Broemmel remarked that really was not his objective. "I may seem to be making a subtle distinction. But, in the end, I am not trying to make statements through the plays I write. Rather, I am trying to bring a theater-goer to a point at which he or she starts to ask questions. For example, in The Row, I wanted to humanize the person awaiting execution. I wanted the audience to like him, despite the fact that they ultimately learn he is guilty of some seriously heinous crimes," Broemmel explained. "If I have a goal in The Row, it is to make a person at least come to a clear understanding that humanity is not lost even when a person commits a terribly horrific crime."
Mike Broemmel conceived of the idea for Goddess People when watching the murder-by-beheading of journalist James Foley. "I was writing a news piece about ISIS and the James Foley murder," Broemmel said. "I felt I needed to view the video of his execution to better understand what occurred. One of the things that strikes me most about James Foley's final moments is the tremendous dignity he maintained until the very end. I tried to imagine how I would respond in such a situation – and I honestly can't do it. I'm hard pressed imagining how I would muster the dignity – let alone the courage – exhibited by James Foley when he was murdered alone, in the dessert so far from his loved ones."
As the result of the Foley murder, Broemmel began contemplating how each individual person faces his or her own mortality. "I started to envision of group of people with disparate backgrounds in a shop somewhere in the Middle East, people who end up realizing that their own lives are not only in jeopardy but likely to end imminently,"
Mike Broemmel went on to explain that while working on the script for Goddess People, the assault on the Charlie Hebdo office's occurred in France, followed by the attack on the bakery in the same city. "These horrible incidents effected my work in many ones. For example, I knew it was incumbent upon me that I not be merely regurgitating headlines in my theatrical work. I needed to ensure that Goddess People did not devolve into some sort of cliché about violence, terrorism, death and hatred. I think I've managed to avoid that type of devolution in the script," Mike Broemmel said.
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