Actor Elan Zafir answers our questions about his play coming to Capital Fringe, The Unaccompanied Minor.
– Tell us about the moment when you said to yourself: I just have to do this!
I see my son four times a year. It’s never felt normal. It’s never felt right. Dropping my son off at the airport is an excruciating experience. Picking him up is incredibly exciting, and also maniacally stressful. The whole process fills me with anxiety.
And something always goes wrong! I’m late to pick him up! There’s no gas in the car. Suddenly there’s traffic: on a Saturday! It’s relentless. I have to be there when he gets off the plane, right? But that’s getting through security. There’s always a huge line, or a family of five—who wait until the last second before removing their shoes/don’t remove their laptops from their backpacks—Amateurs! I developed a form of PTSD from the experience.
When you are dropping off your son at the airport, he gets to board first. On this day there was a ton of people in a line waiting to board early as well. As it became his time to go, he turned around to hug me, I noticed all the other passengers suddenly unbothered by the delays, the amount of people, the hustle and bustle of a busy airport—I noticed them all looking at me and my son, saying goodbye to each other. That day, I realized this isn’t normal for not just me, but for ANYONE.
– Why this play now?
I keep hearing in the news about families being torn apart, by our current president’s decisions. I can’t imagine I understand how they feel, but I can say that “hurt” from feeling separated by the thing you love most in this world, is a universal thing. Also, it talks about the latch key generation. The kids that aren’t as tech heavy as now. The kids that grew up outside, not in front of a screen.
– What story are you telling in the performance?
I tell the story of my life and what it’s like to be a dad four times a year. I tell the story of my relationship with my son. How it works, how it fails, how my life before he was born—both prepared, and destroyed my ability to deal with his absence.
– What have you been learning about yourself during rehearsals?
Have your heart open. It’s the easiest thing to do, and the best way to feel connected to those who seem most foreign to you.
– If you won a Tony for this show, who would you thank?
My director Dody DiSanto. My Dramaturg Rick Hammerly.
– When the performance is over, what do you want the audience feeling or thinking about?
Their lives, their loved ones. Their past, their future. I hope to take them on an incredible journey. An incredible experience. Something they have never seen before, or will see again.