– Solo performer Alex Mahgoub responds to some questions from DC Theatre Scene. –
Tell us about the moment where you said to yourself: “I just have to do this!”
I remember a long time ago my mom saying something like, “Alex your life in New York City is so crazy, you could do your own show about your adventures!” At the time, I thought it was a silly idea. But a few years later I saw a great friend do a solo show about his mother and losing her to cancer. I laughed, I cried, I was touched, and I learned something…about life. It was one of the most powerful theatrical experiences my life. I knew then, that I wanted to have the shot to create the same feeling for someone else.
Why is it important to you to do this play now?
We live in a tough world where people are questioning their identity. Am I gay or straight? Am I black or white? Am I a man or a woman? These are REAL questions for a lot of people and they struggle with them daily. A lot of my show circles around the idea of “identity.” Am I who I am because of someone else, or can I actively choose to be who I want to be? The issues at play could not be more current.
What story are you telling?
“Baba” means father in Arabic. The show is about my father – my relationship with him, the things he taught me about life, and about losing him in a tragic way. And then having to grow up without a father in a very tough and complicated world. You see me try to make my way and figure out what it means to be a “man” in today’s world. The show touches on many aspects of Millenial life (I’m 30 years old) – the struggle to “become something,” the idea of “going after the dream,” the new reality as created by the financial crisis and recession, the disconnect from college and real life, drug use, and much more.
What have you been learning about yourself during rehearsals?
That wow. I can be having so much more fun doing the show than I could have ever imagined! It’s exciting because I’m both preparing for Capital Fringe and the audience in DC but also for FringeNYC in New York City. The show has to be loose and free enough to move from venue to venue and not be hampered by space limitations or newness in the space. So it’s exciting to create flexible blocking and movement across stage.
If you won a Tony for this show, who would you thank?
My agent, manager, lawyer. Actually – no I don’t have any of those people. LOL. I would thank my mom – for giving me all the love in the world. My grandmother for much the same reason. My sister, my uncle, my girlfriend, my niece, my nephew, my cousins, and of course my father – who is the inspiration behind Baba. I’m also so grateful to my teachers along the way….education is truly the great equalizer in life, and I had so many amazing teachers who helped make me who I am today.
What do you want the audience feeling or thinking about when they leave your show?
I want to inspire people to know that regardless of any tragedy in life – you have to keep up hope and stay positive. No one is ever truly defeated if they have those two things. It’s my goal that people leave the show with an enlightened sense of self. In other words, that they can feel more comfortable and secure in their own skin – being proud of who they are and where they come from. But also knowing that at any moment, they can choose to change, if that’s what they so desire. Ultimately, that true power doesn’t come from outside – but from within.
Alex Mahgoub is a proud graduate of Rutgers University, with a degree in English Literature and Theater Arts. He has also studied with Maggie Flanigan (Mesiner), Shane Ann Younts (Voice & Speech), and Fay Simpson (Lucid Body). When not acting, Alex plays the part of a New York Real Estate Associate Broker with the Corcoran Group. You can read reviews of his work at www.AlexMahgoub.com. Past theater roles include: John in Antioch & Dolan in LINE both at the Thirteenth Street Repertory Theater, Sir Andrew Aguecheek in Twelfth Night, Hortensio in Taming of the Shrew, and Servant in Servant of Two Masters. Short film roles include Greg in Party on the 49th Floor, Grey Bills in Private, The Son in The Last Touchy Feely Drama, and Rayhan in Dejeration.