TRANSFIGURATION, A Solo Play By Michael Miller Coming Up In The United Solo Festival
The United States, above all other countries, is beset with an epidemic of random killing, usually by a weapon which seems to have held a mythic aura in the American psyche since the arrival of the first Europeans. The gun is the weapon of choice for Americans who want to do harm, especially semi-automatic assault rifles which can be modified to be even deadlier than their makers' intentions. Most of us are exposed to the biggest massacres through the major media, the most recent of which are listed in the footnote below. If the scope, circumstances, and number of dead and wounded are not sufficiently shocking, it is important to know that multiple and mass shootings, if not consistently a daily occurrence, occur regularly several times a week. These are only reported locally, because the limited body counts don't merit national attention. Only a few days passed without an incident during the month of September, 2018, and not seldom multiple mass shootings occurred in one day, as one can see on Gun Violence Archive. It is only too true that we are living in an age of random, senseless mass murders.
Since the health care and law enforcement systems have proven unable to identify individuals who should not have access to guns before they attempt to acquire them, the only viable limitation of these mass murders is to investigate the purchaser of a firearm when he actually initiates the sale. As we all know the legal framework behind such controls is very weak in the United States, because of lobbying by gun manufacturers and the greed of American legislators. The situation has been amply studied by psychologists, criminologists, and political commentators, to mention only a few.
Michael Miller, the author of Transfiguration, was not aiming to present an investigation comparable or even derived from the work of experts. The idea for Transfiguration came from something he observed over a decade ago at a seasonal local parade in the northern Berkshires. He saw two small boys, no older than nine at the most, patrolling the crowd with toy assault weapons in their hands, presumably with the approval of their parents. In places like New York and Los Angeles the police have been known to shoot before examining the toys closely enough to see what they are. Miller photographed one of the boys and continued to brood about the moment. "What could the boy have been thinking? He seemed to be surveying the crowd, perhaps singling out people he wanted to kill." This seemed like a very early start on the way to growing into a Cruz, or a Paddock, or a Mateen. The fantasy of power from holding an efficient weapon engenders an ultimately self-destructive thirst for murder which has now become so common that only a few incidents go beyond the local. Even the highly-publicized shootings grip the public's attention for no more than a few days. Then, complacently believing themselves to be safe, they return to their daily activities and small pleasures.
The protagonist and narrator of Transfiguration, Ralph Belard, is one of us, an Everyman in his self-centeredness and indifference. After being at the center of a senseless bullet-storm, of which he is the sole survivor, he shakes it off and moves on. Transfiguration is a play, artwork for the stage, seeking to explore the metaphysical absurdity of these destructive orgies we almost take for granted. The facts and figures are readily available, and so are many interpretations of them. The story-telling and moods created by playwright Michael Miller, director Graydon Gund, actor Gary Hilborn, and Lucas Miller's videos can also play their part.
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Michael Miller is a playwright, director, actor, and arts journalist. He is Artistic Director of The Arts Press, which, in addition to producing plays, concerts, and exhibitions, publishes the online arts magazines New York Arts and Hudson-Housatonic Arts. For the stage he has written the libretto of Midi (Medea), an opera with music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Lewis Spratlan, and a full-length play, Witzelsucht, set in 1930s Cleveland. He studied Classics and Fine Arts at Harvard and Oxford, and theater at The Dramatists Guild (Gary Garrison and John Dietrich), HB Studios (Austin Pendleton), Atlantic Theater Company (Karen Kohlhaas), Shakespeare and Company, and with Grace Kiley. He divides his time between New York City and North Adams, Massachusetts.
Gary Hilborn is an actor whose television credits include guest appearances in numerous hit series, including The Sinner, Daredevil, The Blacklist, Quantico, and Blue Bloods. Recent films include the award-winning feature Jane Wants a Boyfriend and the romantic comedy In Stereo.
His many stage credits include a run as Eddie Carbone in a New York production of Arthur Miller's modern tragedy A View from the Bridge, for which he was nominated for a Broadway World Award as Best Actor in a Play. He was recently seen in the New York premiere of Carol Carpenter's Sweet, Sweet Spirit at Manhattan Theatre Works, and he originated the role of Mickey Maloney opposite Karina Arroyave in her play The Love Junkies of Hell's Kitchen.
Gary has studied at the Atlantic Theater Company (founded by David Mamet and William H. Macy), as well as with Tony and Academy-Award winning actress Mercedes Ruehl. He is the Founding Artistic & Managing Director of The Southern Theatre Company in New York City.
Graydon Gund New York directing credits include: Golden Boy (GK Arts Center), Must Win (Broadway Bound Fest), Ginny (Sam French Fest), Summertime Sadness (Ugly Rhino), The Photo Album (FringeNYC). Regional: Nantucket the MusACKal (SHIP/ Deep End), It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play (White Heron). Assisting includes: Fireflies, Most Beautiful Room..,Endgame (Long Wharf Theatre), A Wonderful Life, La Cage aux Folles (Goodspeed Musicals), Clybourne Park (Chautauqua). Upcoming: Plan G with Randomly Specific Theatre
Lucas Miller is a filmmaker based in New York City. Of dual US-Italian citizenship, he has lived and worked across Europe. He took an interest in cinema from an early age, attending the 2008 Edinburgh International Film Festival as a member of the press when he was only eighteen (skipping his high school graduation ceremony so as not to miss a screener). His first feature-length documentary as Director of Photography, Aterúe: The Singers from Elsewhere, is currently playing at theaters and festivals. In 2016, Lucas' documentary portrait of trans actress Jess Friedman, "Popcorn Princess," won Voter's Choice in the inaugural Everyday Humans competition. Formerly a supervisor at the beloved Sunshine Cinema in New York City's East Village (now sadly closed), he also worked as a film and literary events programmer at Time & Space Limited in Hudson, New York.