Patrick Mathieu (Fortune Society)
My name is Patrick and I was born in Haiti. I started in the theater in high school, went to the City College of City University of New York for a bachelor of fine arts in dance, left twelve credits shy of bachelor of fine arts because I was offered a position as a professional dancer, and then went on to tour the United States. I left City College because I was offered a position in the Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company. I also toured Puerto Rico and Romania as a professional dancer with All Nations Dance Company.
I met George C. Wolfe because he had just come up from Kentucky and was teaching at City College, and I ended up working on some of his productions at the Public like Spunk. I was the light spot operator for Spunk, and then he called me and offered me an opportunity to be on stage at the Public, and I played several characters in his Caucasian Chalk Circle in 1990. It was at the same time that the woman who I was living with called me and told me she was pregnant, so I had fraternal twins and had to stop performing because I had to pay for pampers! I kept working with the Public, but mostly as a scenic carpenter and in electrics.
I always had a conflict with theater, because I feel like my creative eye was mostly cinematic, and I’ve always wanted to go into film. In 2006 I decided that’s the route that I was going to take. I eventually ended up in the New York Writer’s Coalition and discovered that creative writing can actually be fun, and I am currently leading that same workshop at Fortune Society on Wednesday evenings.
I don’t know how you can live in New York and not work in the theater. I mean the performing arts and the arts in general, are what I fell in love with and what I’m about. There’s art everywhere, it doesn’t matter what nation you’re from. I was lucky in that I became a freshman at City College when they had just opened up a brand new state-of-the-art three-theater complex. During the convocation the performers were Mikhail Baryshnikov, Peter Martins, New York City Ballet—and that was just the opening act! The second act was Ella Fitzgerald. I was working backstage because I wasn’t just in love with being a performer, I was in love with the entire idea of the theater. So then I find myself backstage with Ella Fitzgerald and it was just wonderful.
I’m looking forward to playing Gonzalo. I’ll enjoy playing him; Gonzalo’s a “bon vivant.” I think the monologue he has in The Tempest really reveals who Gonzalo is. As implausible as the world he describes is, his ideas are a lot of fun. It was weird doing my monologue for my audition in the Martinson at the Public, because that was where Caucasian Chalk Circle occurred in 1990. So it was like, wow, I was not only back at the Public, but I got to become part of that small group of individuals who made it from backstage to talent onstage at the Public Theater. It feels wonderful to be back in the space.
Right now I’m focusing on filmmaking mostly. If more acting stuff comes that’ll be fun, but I have several ideas for film. I created a twenty-three minute piece to the music of Jimmy Cliff, that takes us from slavery to Barack Obama. Right now I’m trying to get that into what I think is the perfect home for it, the Museum of African Diasporan Art, otherwise known as MoCADA in Brooklyn. I’m hoping to get that piece done, to continue my other projects, and we’ll see what happens next!