Voices of BTM XXVI: Angele Maraj

Tell us a little about your play.
tell me a story is a short play about the ways that we use stories for our survival, particularly in the face of conflict that feels outside of our control. I won’t spoil anything, except to say that the characters in the play each have different motivations for the stories they tell and how they tell them, and it’s thought-provoking (I hope!) to see how those different stories intersect.

What made you want to tell this story?
Like so many of us, I am hyper-aware of the violent conflict that entire populations are being subjected to in Palestine, in Sudan, in the DRC, and in many other parts of the world (including the United States). In all cases of violent conflict, there are many people whose lives become subject to that violence and fundamentally transformed by it, whether or not they have consented to participate in the conflict in the first place.

As someone who has struggled with mental health, I am always curious about the question of what keeps us going as people in general, but lately my mind has especially been on those people who are desperately trying to survive in the face of sometimes unimaginable horrors. What keeps them going? Who and what do they hold on to? What are the stories they tell themselves, and each other, in order to keep going?

I personally reject the idea that any amount of “collateral damage” is acceptable when it comes to human life—it is an idea which robs us all of our humanity, and we should take the premature ending of any person’s story very seriously. I hope this play leads audiences to sit with that and empathize with the ways in which hope persists for us all.

Who (or what) inspires you as a writer?
I am inspired by playwrights like Lynn Nottage and Sanaz Toossi for their grounded and empathetic approach to exploring complex dynamics within specific communities, as well as playwrights like Hansol Jung who use absurdity to similar effect. I am inspired to write for theatre myself because it’s the best way I know to process the world around me in community with others.

What interests you about the ten-minute format?
If you couldn’t tell from my answers above, I can struggle with brevity, haha. So I appreciate the challenge of trying to tell a complete and thoughtful story in a compact amount of time.

What’s next for you as a playwright? Shameless plugs, please!
I am the co-creator and songwriter for a new original musical, Once Upon a Carnival, a vibrant magical realism tale set in 1990s Trinidad and Tobago. We had a Act 1 staged reading last year and will have a fuller production of the entire thing as one of the featured shows in this year’s Boston New Works Festival, June 21-23 at the Boston Center for the Arts. Please come see it—I would love to know your thoughts!

Keep up with Angele on Instagram: @angelemaraj and @onceuponacarnival


Join us for Boston Theater Marathon XXVI—Sunday, May 5, from 12-10 p.m.! Learn more and purchase tickets