Zion Ashkenazi, the sexy Israeli star of a new show at The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, talks about the gay French outcast writer Jean Genet, why sexual deviants will always be relevant, and why the pursuit of evil isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Describe your show, ‘Jean Genet: Son of a Bitch’ in two sentences.
It’s a physical, theatrical, almost a dancing performance, with a high concentration of testosterone and intelligence. It is a burst of rage and an orgasm of words and movement.
How did you first learn about Jean Genet?
My theatre master infected me with the disease called Genet. I have been researching for a long year and then wrote the play about him. I believe we are twins and that we were separated at birth. I hope that doesn’t mean that my mother is also a bitch.
What is it about Genet that attracts you?
His honesty eventually tipped the balance and made me choose him. His lack of fear, his daring, along with poetics and poetry charmed me. I love unsympathetic people!
What is your favourite Genet play, and why?
I love Genet’s books better than his plays. Our Lady of the Flowers is a masterpiece, in my opinion. If I have to choose a play it would be The Balcony or The Blacks. Amazing!
You say that Genet eschewed “middle-class morality to pursue evil”. Did he really pursue evil?
Genet is not pursuing evil in the absolute sense, rather the evil in the hypocritical bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie claims to uphold freedoms when in fact they oppress and repress any individual man, woman and child that does not fit their mold.
Why is Genet still relevant for a modern audience?
Nowadays, although we are modern and open-minded, we still face social fixations. Each social group sets principles and rules which determine who can be a member of that group. There are still outsiders and people that are excluded from the mainstream. Therefore, Genet and his deviations from the mainstream will be relevant for many years.
What Hollywood star should play Genet in the movie of his life?
Because Marlon Brando passed away, I’ll have to do it.
If there was one other gay writer from history you could do a show about, which one would it be and why?
I would love to bask in the rare poetry of Tennessee Williams and Federico Garcia Lorca. But, above all, I love Russian literature. The problem is that you can hardly know anything about their sexual orientation.
Tell us two things about Zion Ashkenazi that Irish people should know.
First of all, this festival will be the first time ever I act in English, so I have to deal with some tongue twisters like murder, murderer and murdered!
Second, I meant to add a scene of Irish dance as part of the show, but I forgot my dancing shoes! Does anyone have shoes at size 43? Please, let me know – Zion Ashkenazi on Facebook.
‘Jean Genet: Son of a Bitch’ runs at The Outhouse Theatre as part of The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival from May 12 to 17, booking here.
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