Please say no! No. No. No. You can’t say no. You don’t have a reason. Tell someone. Keep the secret. Go ahead call. Do not call her! Call her. Do not call her! This is nothing. Oh no this is something! Is this a dream? This is not a dream
On paper, the above excerpts from For Pete’s Sake might sound like a conversation spoken by two people; however, this dialog belongs to the voices in writer, Joe Capozzi’s head. Typically the characters you meet on stage are multi-dimensional and carry various facets of self, which are incorporated and strategically layered by the writer. But in this play, rather than putting these features into one character, Joe Capozzi has taken them outside of the individual and exposed them for his audience to see. By giving each voice in his head a role in this play, Joe Capozzi has given a voice to his thoughts and allows his audience to go where most people never dare to explore.
David G. Beck, the actor who plays Voice 1, describes his character rather proudly as: “the voice of hope. The voice of faith. The voice of reason. He also has the fear and he’s almost like the scared little kid, which I guess in Joe’s head is manifested by a handsome gay man.”
Beck added that last line in jest, of course, referring to himself. He went on to say that he draws his inspiration for Voice 1 from another voice that is in his own head.
Beck: From my personal experience, it’s interesting this little character he wrote—Voice 1. I picture a voice of hope. I imagine my great aunt who died when I was six years old. To me she’s like an angel and I always have her voice in my head. And to me that’s the truth. That’s the confidence and the good and the hope. I think it’s different for everyone. But I think everyone has a Voice 1.
Where does Voice 1 come from?
Beck: I am a part of Joe Capozzi . I am this extreme aspect of Joe. We’re all the same person and we all had this terrible tragedy happen. I, Voice 1, was molested and the way I am dealing with this in our life is going to be different from the way Voice 2 deals with it.
What is your character’s purpose for existence?
Beck: My character’s objective in the play is for us, as in Joe and me and the other voice, to come to the truth, to live in the truth at all costs.
Voice 1 says “all will be well” quite often, what does this mean?
At the purest form the end result is supposed to be love and acceptance and peace within yourself and within others around you, and I think that’s what Joe is looking for when voice 1 is chanting “all will be well.”
How does the interaction of the voices replicate what actually happens in an individual’s mind?
Beck: What makes this play so real and so interesting is that no voice is completely powerless at any given time. That’s what creates the conflicts; the interesting drama is that they’re always fighting for control…you never give up.
Joe’s story comes as a result of his experience with sexual abuse he encountered with a priest, but why has this play brought healing to other people?
Beck: With the personal comes the universal. There’s so much healing and so much humor that comes with it that I think most people will find it really accessible and really worth seeing.
Alfredo Diaz is the actor who brings Voice 2 to life. According to him, “Voice 2 is the critic. He is a self-indulgent truth teller. [He] wants to point out all of the stuff that Joe’s trying to avoid.”
Where does Voice 2 come from?
Diaz: It’s an archetype. It’s the critic. We all have it– from birth. When you’re little and you want to compete and you think, ‘well I’m not good enough to compete.’ That’s the beginning of the critic, that’s Voice 2. And it just keeps growing with age. And then when you carry the stuff that Joe is carrying, that’s the critic on steroids: the Arnold Schwarzenegger of critics. It has more power than any of the other selves that we have.
Why does Voice 2 exist?
Diaz: We need it, actually. If it’s serving its purpose, it’s a good thing. Because it also helps you to not go way over your head, so that you don’t go into things carelessly. Whatever it is, it could help you, if you have balance. Joe just doesn’t have balance. So I’m [Voice 2] running it for now.
Describe the character of Voice 2 and his evolution.
Diaz: It’s funny. Voice 2 has a lot of colors. And I do change because when you start to get balance in your life, the voice starts to get a little quieter. More controlled. And that happens by the end of it. He’s healing and the other side, Voice 1, brings some balance. But we will have them both forever.
How do you thinking watching Voice 2 on stage can affect someone in the audience?
Diaz: First of all, if they don’t know they have it, they’re going to figure it out that night. They’re going to see where it lives in them. People probably aren’t going to like me. And then maybe by the end they’ll see why it has a purpose.
How would you describe this play?
Diaz: His secret happens to be this sexual abuse with a priest, but, it could be anything. It’s the hiding of shame and what it builds. Most people at some point have hid some sort of shame. And really this is what could happen to you if you keep suppressing that shame and you lose control of your life. I’ve had my own demons. That’s why I support this play. That’s why I want to be a part of this story. It’s bigger than Joe…and myself. It’s a story to help the psyches of people evolve. I want to be able to tell this story as clearly as we can. And it’s funny.
What is the point of For Pete’s Sake.
Diaz: The point of the play, I think, is to encourage people to speak up. Not to bury their shame. Not to hide. Not to keep their secrets to themselves. They don’t go away. You hide them, but they don’t go away. They’re there. They’re building…[Joe] hides them for a long time and it almost kills him.
RECONCILING THE VOICES
The person responsible for taking all of these parts of the same character and cohesively assembling them as aspects of one person on stage is director, Angelique Letizia. She describes these voices as “the light and the dark that we all carry within us…the quintessential devil and angel that are always on your shoulder. The part that wants to accept defeat and then the part that refuses to accept defeat. They’re important because they narrate the journey of the mind. They narrate what is going on inside of this guy’s head as all of this is happening to him, which is something we don’t get really get to see in movies or in plays. It answers the question, ‘what is this character thinking?’
What has been the biggest challenge in directing this play?
Letizia: How to effectively use the voices so that they don’t appear like spirit guides or friends. It’s very difficult when you have characters on a stage that are supposed to represent thought. In getting Joe not to look at them or communicate with them, it is very difficult because when you have somebody that you are speaking to on stage, it’s usually a character that you are having a direct interaction with. But these two characters are actually in his head. So the challenge is really to make sure that the interactions that he has with them are believable, but yet always come across to the audience like they are thoughts and not actual people.
Why is this important for us to hear these voices?
Letizia: Because what happens with victims of any crime is typically that they remain silent. And the reason they remain silent is due much in part to what Voice 2 represents, and that’s the deep-rooted fear and anger and humiliation that people carry with them when they’ve been traumatized. They’re afraid that they won’t be believed. They’re afraid that people won’t take them seriously or people will turn on them. So it’s important for us to understand the journey that goes on in the person’ s mind when these types of trauma happens to them so that we can find better ways to help them and to give them compassion. And instead of judging them, to be able to say, ‘this is what is actually going on inside a person’s head, let me find a way that I can help them, now that I have all of this information.’ So I think it really is very useful as a healing tool and it gives people permission to say, ‘hey, wait, that happened to me. That’s me. That’s my story.’ And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a father, a mother, a cousin, an uncle, a coach. It doesn’t matter. The same rules apply. That’s why I think it’s very important that the voices be a part of this.
Do you think that the voices transform in this play even though they are written as a single aspect of self?
Letizia: If you watch the play, you will notice that Voice 1, who is the voice of hope, is the subservient voice at the top of the play and by the end of the play, he is actually armed in such a way that he is pushing the domineering voice, Voice 2, who has now lost his power; he is literally pushing him out of the way so that Joe can finally reveal this secret. Both of those characters change: one gains power and one loses power by the end. So they actually reverse roles.
Why do you think it’s important to see For Pete’s Sake?
Letizia: Because no matter what has happened in your life, whether you are a victim of abuse or you know someone or you’ve been involved or you’ve heard about it, it’s important to understand how we can help. They will carry this secret with them, some of them to their very last days on earth. And it’s important that they have a voice. It’s important that we hear them. I think that this play gives that voice to people and gives them permission to say, ‘it’s okay, it happened to me. And even if it happened to you, you will find hope and you are going to be fine.’ I think that’s why it’s important. It’s important for people to understand it and it’s important for people who lived it to be able to release that pain. And it’s important for people who are ignorant to it to finally get some education to what’s been happening…so they don’t judge without really understanding what has been going on in a person’s head.”
Explain why you call this play a comedy.
Letizia: For me, this is a dark comedy. The reason why I believe it is a dark comedy is that it uses instances of gallows humor… It’s not poking fun as much as it’s saying, ‘here’s this guy’s story and he’s choosing to use humor to tell this story.’ He laughs at himself and the things that have gone on in his life. For me, I always believe that there’s tragedy in comedy, just like there’s comedy in tragedy. They seem to go hand-in-hand. In terms of For Pete’s Sake, why I think it’s so important is that the jokes give us permission and make us able to laugh at evil. And when you can laugh at something that’s happened to you that is so horrible and disgusting and has this grotesque, satiric flair to it, then you’ve surmounted it. I think that’s why calling it a comedy is so important. Because it’s not saying, ‘poor me.’ It’s saying, ‘I have surmounted this evil, disgusting thing that’s happened to me’… and it’s taking humor and using it as a powerful tool to heal.
For Pete’s Sake runs from September 27th – October 14th at the 4th Street Theater at 83 East 4th Street, New York, NY. For more information and for tickets, visit, www.forpetessaketheplay.com.
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