NYC Playwright’s “The Other Day:” Getting Over Sexual Orientation

Written by | Entertainment, Stage

"The Other Day" play

The Other Day pushes back against the notion that gay and straight couples face different challenges. And it does that deft little dance while avoiding bumpersticker aphorisms like “Love Is Love,” according to playwright Mark Jason Williams.

The play, directed by Andrew Block, grapples with the intricacies of intimacy with such nuance that Williams spent five years writing his drama — largely because he didn’t think he’d gone through the same experiences he was depicting with his characters.

“It’s a play that’s very personal,” Williams says, “in terms of capturing the complexities of intimate relationships. And as someone who struggled with it, I actually needed five years to represent that as authentically as I wanted to. I needed to grow, and it’s hard to write about something when you know that same thing about yourself is missing.”

Williams says he’d been looking at romantic love from the outside in for more than 35 years. “And when I met the guy who’s now my husband, all of that became much clearer to me. I learned about the joy that people talk about. No one wants to see people in misery on stage; but they are happy to watch true-to-life scenarios play out.”

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The Other Day revolves around four characters — a woman on her way out of a failing marriage; a foreigner keeping a secret and a pair of men who meet in a substance-abuse support group. Soon their lives interweave and those interactions sends each on a personal journey that reshapes both them and their relationships.

For Williams, having two of the characters be men in love is just slightly more than incidental these days. “I think we’ve moved past being defined by sexuality,” he muses. “What gay couples have, whether it’s fighting about money or enjoying a vacation, is pretty much the same as what straight couples have; it’s very universal. It’s true that in Trump’s America, we’re under the microscope right now, and that the LGBTQ community is constantly being demeaned. I know I’m lucky to be living in the New York bubble in that I don’t have to think about my sexuality being a big deal, and maybe that’s why this wasn’t written as a coming out play. But if I’m having a confrontation elsewhere in the country, all of that changes. It can be really hard.”

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Last modified: January 22, 2019