Cast of Love According to Luc
Composer/playwright Alicia Mathewson grew up with classical music, playing violin from age five, but she yearned to be in a rock band, and musical theater became her vehicle to bring it all together.
Rhythm is my thing, the way we embody things musically, and integrating music is my journey, says Mathewson, who has just mounted her first full musical production here, Love According to Luc, at the Greenwich Street Theater.
Following her own artistic and spiritual path led the artist from Massachusetts to a music major at Middlebury College, a stint as folk singer/song writer in Burlington, Vermont where she also came out as a lesbian musical theater work in Boston and an MFA at Smith, before she finally landed in the Tisch writing program at NYU in 1997. Since then Mathewson has done sound design at The Public and The Atlantic Theater, and developed Creating Life and Making Dinner in 2002, as Artist-in-Residence at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
Love According to Luc is a gospel-pop drama about faith and sexuality, originally presented at the Dixon Place Festival. Its also the first venture for Mathewsons new company, Prophets Among Us.
My hope and vision is to create high quality stage and film work, and to open dialogues and retreats for artists to look at issues together, she explains. I believe we need to be more vocal about whats happening around us, to put our compassion and activism into the world. For me, Tony Kushner is a prime example of what an artist can do.
According to Mathewson, she started writing Love According to Luc as her thesis at NYU, when she became curious about what kind of lesbian could stay inside the institution of the church.
It came from my own experience as an Irish Catholic, where we are kept out as women (and lesbians) from becoming priests. As I wrote, I moved to the Protestant faith, did a lot of research and decided on the Episcopal Church for my play, but I feel the piece is universal, with an open definition of God. Its important to me to have strong theater that anyone can relate to, so hopefully this isnt just a Christian work or a lesbian work. If it works, its much larger than that.
The story in Love According to Luc deals with Lucretia (Luc) who goes off to Divinity School to become a minister. Shes supported by her home church, but falls in love with Ph.D. student Jane (a lapsed Irish Catholic), and is faced with a choice. She can be ordained and remain in the closet, or be with Jane, who wont accept a secret life.
Its really about living in the gray, notes Mathewson, and how we open ourselves to more beyond an either/or situation. This relates to that humanizing experience of feeling conflict, which most of us have at some point the direct conflict to society or an institution because of who we are or what we believe. Whats interesting is that its the institution (or people) who created or nurtured you, that eventually rejects you.
Directed by Stephen Tomac, with music direction by Allison Leyton-Brown, Love According to Luc has an ensemble cast of eight women, and a versatile set which moves from church to lesbian bar.
The challenge for us has been the limitations of the space, Mathewson says Its a beautiful theater, but small. The heart of this piece really is the music. The pulse, rhythm and pacing are what help tell the story, so its also a challenge to get that sense of pulse working right, but our cast has been extraordinary.
I hope the show can inspire people to look at choices and engage in them in an authentic way, she adds. Not just doing whats easy or whats been taught, but to look at ourselves and stop acting out on other people. Theres a lot of loss in this play as well. I think we dont know how to grieve, how to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Id like people to think about that, wherever that might take them.