By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Nathalie Zaro
Name: Marisol Tirelli Rivera
Play: Galileo the Musical
Relationship to production: Book writer/Librettist
Website: _gaia studio
How did you first get involved in theatre?
My father was a stuntman and Wild West show producer. He stuck me on a donkey at three years old in the middle of an arena in front of thousands of people when we had a Wild West show in South America (I was hooked and mortified all at the same time). He also had several vintage clothing stores in New York and Los Angeles, where I would observe fashion shows. He took me to my first musical, Cats, at the Shubert Theatre in L.A. I started tap dancing at seven in hopes of being on Broadway one day.
Who are your biggest influences?
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Tony Kushner, Tenessee Williams, Eve Ensler, Arthur Miller, the list goes on and on...
Our show parallels current ideologies in the U.S government regarding climate change and global warming to the corruption and ignorance of the Roman Catholic Church experienced during the life of Galileo Galilei. After hundreds of years, we still reference Galileo's research in science (the Earth rotates around the sun). Only recently has the Church apologized and recanted his inquisition. Unfortunately, we may not have hundreds of years left to finally admit that our scientists are correct in regards to climate change, global warming, and environmental research. Although the play has a serious message, it tells the story in a fun and engaging way.
What inspired you to write it?
I was infuriated by what was happening with the Tea Party and the U.S. government in regards to climate change by refuting its data and evidence of existence. As I was writing the piece in 2010, we had the disasterous BP Gulf spill occur, which "fueled" the writing and music of this musical even more. I am grateful to have had such a talented composer, James Behr, to write with who was just as passionate and angry as I was.
Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?
This festival was a perfect match for Galileo thematically and morally. I believe in doing theatre for a cause, social justice, and human and animal rights. There is no theatre more important than that.
Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity. What charity has your production chosen and why?
Our charity is the East Coast Maine Coon Rescue, which rescues, fosters, and adopts out Maine Coon cats. We chose this organization because we wanted to help live beings that are being directly affected by our environment. Sometimes it is hard to relate to the lion in Africa or the tiger in India. We don't know exactly what the environmental situation is there, but we do know what is happening in our local neighborhoods. Only when we learn to respect and acknowledge all life forms in our immediately environments, will we then be able to help lives globally. Helping the environment starts in your own backyard.
What's next for you after Planet Connections?
Galileo the Musical has been invited to be produced live for an eco-friendly film festival in Los Angeles. We hope to continue producing and expanding this show into a full length, as well as doing a full orchestral cast recording. We'd love to continue doing _gaia productions as well to continue to build up our communities and social awareness.
And finally, if your play was food, what kind of food would it be?
Our play is definitely a meal of a wholesome vegan meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and vegan chocolate cake for dessert.
Galileo the Musical
Wednesday, June 8th at 8:30PM
Saturday, June 11th at 4:00PM
Wednesday, June 15th at 6:30PM
Sunday, June 19th at 3:30PM
Tuesday, June 21st at 8:00PM
Friday, June 24th at 6:30PM
The Robert Moss Theatre
440 Lafayette Street