Interview: m And Xavier Pacheco of FAT HAM at The Old Globe

Now on stage through June 23rd.

By: Jun. 12, 2024
Interview: m And Xavier Pacheco of FAT HAM at The Old Globe
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Interview: m And Xavier Pacheco of FAT HAM at The Old Globe

Sometimes the only way to make it through a family event is with the help of your friends, a fact that Juicy in “Fat Ham” knows too well in James Ijames’ modern and funny remix of “Hamlet.”  Luckily, Juicy has Opal and Tio there to help him navigate the tricky party etiquette where the ghost of your father wants you to avenge his murder by killing your uncle.  Performers m and Xavier Pacheco took the time to chat about this show, what drew them to work on it, to what is a must-have at a family event (hopefully sans ghosts).  “Fat Ham” is playing at The Old Globe through June 23rd.

While this show takes some inspiration from “Hamlet” it is also a very different and wonderful piece that uses the Shakespearean classic as a starting point and goes from there. So who better to give a deeper glimpse into the story than two people immersed in it 8 times a week?

Interview: m And Xavier Pacheco of FAT HAM at The Old Globe m: “Fat Ham” gives us a glimpse into a Black southern cookout/wedding reception/wake; there’s magic and mourning and Shakespeare! It follows Juicy, a Black queer young man haunted by his recently slain father who has a demand, and what follows makes for one memorable cookout. It’s such a fun ride, bursting with laughter and moments that make the audience say, “Amen!”

Xavier: “This show is a modernized and witty interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s a black function. It’s a ball. It’s fast, it’s funny, and it’s fresh. I play your friendly neighborhood stoner, Tio, Juicy’s best friend. I hope to add a fun and optimistic perspective to the show through him, and offer a few good laughs along the way. This show is a guaranteed great night of theatre, that’s sure to leave you feeling upbeat and joyful, and hopefully coming back to see it again!”

Each character in the show has their journey, revealing secrets from the deeply personal to the deeply hilarious (you may never think of gingerbread men the same).  So what was it about these characters and this show that drew them to the piece?

Interview: m And Xavier Pacheco of FAT HAM at The Old Globe Xavier: I deeply enjoy its lighthearted and subtly intellectual political commentary. It has such a loving touch in how it explores themes of identity, sexuality, and liberation. I admire how effortlessly James Ijames navigates Shakespeare references, present popular culture, and profound poeticism with immaculate ease. This play is truly one of a kind, and I’m sincerely humbled by the opportunity to share its story with San Diego and The Old Globe.  This is my first time in California. The theatre and the city have left a wonderful first impression on me.”

m: “I play Opal, Juicy’s best friend. She has so much personality, imagination and fire but is stuck living out her mother’s dreams for her instead of her own truth and that’s a crushing burden for her to bear. But if Opal’s gonna do one thing it’s put up a fight!  When I read the script I recognized Opal immediately.  I know the cost of transforming into someone you're not for other people’s benefit. I love how in spite of it all she’s this passionate fireball who’s gonna speak her mind and show up for her friend Juicy. I hope when people see my Opal they leave with more care and empathy for the Opals out in the world that are still figuring themselves out, fire and all. 

I love making The Old Globe’s stage Opal’s playground and I have such a gifted, hilarious cast to play with. Our FAT HAM transforms the way people are used to engaging with theater, so when you come, you better come to play!”

Interview: m And Xavier Pacheco of FAT HAM at The Old Globe

As the show progresses the audience sees everything from comedy, drama, musical numbers, and illusions as that vengeful spirit pops up at the most inopportune times.  So we want to know, what m and Xavier look forward to the audience experiencing in each performance.

m: So many, but I don’t want to spoil any of the magic. Literally. I will say, I love that there’s no fourth wall, and any chance Opal gets to play with that. It shifts the way we’re used to experiencing theater. I think audiences are so used to sitting and quietly watching a play, but this play is most magical when the audience engages with us more like a church congregation with call and response.”

Xavier: “There are quite a few musical moments in the show that I don’t think the audience will see coming, as well as some astonishing theatre magic… The play is packed with delightful surprises that I’m sure will stick with the audience long after it's over! It’s an incredible showcase of what is possible in the theatre and bounces between the magical and the vividly real with perfect balance. My favorite moment comes right near the end, where we pull a magic trick on the audience right under their nose!”

This Pulitzer Prize-winning play may have some classical foundations but is thoroughly modern in its examination of current ideas and themes with insight and a lot of humor.  Which is an opportunity m says they are appreciative to get to explore.

m: I’m grateful to be a part of Black queer storytelling that transforms theater. The world James Ijames created has given me so much room to play and take up space as Opal onstage and I hope as the run continues more Black queer folks will fill the audience and take up space there too!”

Since “Fat Ham” takes place at a family party, it only makes sense to ask, for m and Xavier, what is a must-have at a family event?

m: “I’m from the South, so if I’m going to a cookout I’m going to EAT! Find me by the mac and cheese.”

Xavier: “I gotta have some great music playing. If not, pass me the aux. We finna get this party started!”

How To Get Tickets

“Fat Ham” is playing at The Old Globe through June 23rd.  For ticket and show time information go to www.theoldglobe.org

Photo credit: Rich Soublet II



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