About the Playwright
MICHAEL GORMAN / FOUNDER, FORTY HOUR CLUB
Playwright, Writer, Experimental Theater Producer and Installation Artist
Mike Gorman is the newly appointed Playwright in Residence for La MaMa’s 57th Season and Director of The Forty Hour Club, a resident company of La MaMa, formed by a collective of independent artists dedicated to creating work that asks the question, "To what consequence?" The productions focus on the economic, environmental and systemic destruction facing working communities and the paramount issue of sustainability.
He made his debut at La MaMa in 1994 as a member of the performance duo “The Fabulous Giggin’ Bros.” with their evening of short plays “Biffing Mussels”. He has since had more than a dozen productions staged at La MaMa (see Mike's work here).
For the past two decades, Mike has been writing and producing plays about the opiate epidemic. At the forefront of his work is a trilogy of plays—"The Honor and Glory of Whaling" that deals with the issue of opiate addiction in the commercial fishing community of New England. His newest play, “Chasing the New White Whale” (which premiered at The Ellen Stewart Theatre La MaMa in NYC in Nov/Dec 2018) further explores the current National opioid crisis through the unique lens of the fishing industry, and draws inspiration from Moby Dick and Ahab’s obsessive pursuit of the Great White Whale.
Mike is currently working on an epic project "Chasing The New White Whale—Harpooning Addiction" — a new model of theater aimed at addressing the opioid crisis head-on, and one that Gorman hopes to take on the road to working communities hardest hit by the epidemic. Through direct engagement with the community, “Chasing The New White Whale—Harpooning Addiction” combines theater, performance, multi-media installations, and an arts & advocacy model that together address the opioid crisis that is taking place in those communities. “This project is not simply about personal sadness and loss; it is about a regional and National health crisis and an artistic call to action. It is not intended to be my plaintive voice but the echo of the over 70,000 lives lost to opiate addiction each year" says Gorman.
As an artist, Gorman is obsessed with the idea of invisibility—that there is a whole class and culture of people among us that feels, for all intents and purposes, invisible. His work on this project features a mythical chorus of ghostly whale hunters and modern day commercial fishermen inspired by Ahab's stowaway crew—"Fedallah and the Phantoms"— who represent those who are often “invisible” in our society—the addict; our abandoned and alienated working communities; the marginalized. "To make visible the invisible, and in the process, restore dignity to a people who have been stripped of it by fatal forces often beyond their control—that is my current goal as an artist" --Mike Gorman
Mike makes his home in Maine and New York City.
Mike with Ellen Stewart, founder of La MaMa Theater where
he is currently the Theater's Playwright in Residence.
Mike & "The Fabulous Giggin' Brothers" in NYC for their
debut of "Biffing Mussels" at La MaMa (1994).
Mike Gorman as "The Chaplain" in his production of
"Chasing The New White Whale" at La MaMa (2018).
“Mike’s been writing in his own singular, idiosyncratic style for more than two decades now; journey with us through his oeuvre to discover a truly original talent with a world view as wide and humanist and compassionate as the ocean he so often writes about.” — Martin Denton, Indie theater Now
Mike Gorman is like a young Sam Shepard.”
Mike giving tribute to Sam Shepard at Shepard's Memorial— La MaMa Theater, October 2017.
Read Mike's tribute here.