From PlayFest: David Davalos on ‘Daedalus’

Here’s a brief Q&A with playwright David Davalos on his play Daedalus, at PlayFest Sunday:

What’s your play about, in a couple of sentences?

After suffering a major artistic disappointment in Milan, Leonardo seems to have renounced art and instead worked briefly as a military engineer for the ruthless leader of the Papal armies (and illegitimate son of the Pope) Cesare Borgia. But after his time with Borgia, he returned to art and created his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa. Daedalus is a fictionalized account of that time in Leonardo’s life when he was struggling with the question of his identity, and with the responsibility creators bear to and for their creations.

What was the impetus that made you want to write it?

I had read a magazine article that mentioned the historical happenstance of Leonardo, Borgia and in all likelihood Machiavelli all sharing winter quarters during Borgia’s campaign to unify central Italy for the Church (i.e., his father and himself). The image of those three titanic personalities gathered around the fire sharing insights on art, politics, religion and power was very attractive to me. Around the same time, I was reading Peter Wyden’s book Day One, about the development of the atomic bomb, and something clicked connecting the two ideas. This play is the result.

Has it been produced anywhere else?

Daedalus has received developmental work at the Ashland New Play Festival, the South Coast Rep and the Old Globe, and was produced at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia. I’ve continued monkeying with the text throughout, and am grateful to OST for the chance to develop it further.

What do you hope to get out of its inclusion in PlayFest?

Making it better! The usual: tighter, clearer, cleaner. Cut the fat and build the muscle. Pretty much the improvements the playwright needs himself.

And some biographical info:

David Davalos is pleased to be back in Orlando again, his play Wittenberg having been developed here during the 2008 PlayFest and then produced as part of OST’s 2008-09 season. Among David’s other plays are The Tragedie of Johnnius Caerson (a comedy in blank verse chronicling the Late Night TV Wars); and Darkfall (a modern sequel to Paradise Lost). He currently homesteads in the frontier wilds of northern Colorado with his wife Elaine and daughter Delphi.

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