Interview with THE PARTICIPANTS! playwright: Jesse Calixto

Jesse Calixto, who is no stranger to the Annex stage, is the playwright of THE PARTICIPANTS!, opening on March 15. Since 2017, Jesse has performed in DEERS, Peggy: The Plumber Who Saved the Galaxy, and You’d Better Sit Down For This, as well as Spin the Bottle and HOLIDAZE.

We asked him a few questions about the play and to get his opinion his favorite character. Read on!

What inspired you to write THE PARTICIPANTS!?

I work in tourism and theatre so when the pandemic shut everything down in 2020 I lost my job and community, I was single and living alone in a studio apartment in Pioneer Square. The Participants was the project that let me imagine a time when the theatres would open up again and I wrote it with Annex Theatre specifically in mind. Stuck in my studio apartment I wrote a play about four strangers locked in a room together. Like now, it was an election year so the division between the Right and Left was at a fever pitch. Social media created an environment where people were stuck in an echo chamber where they could pick and choose their own “facts.”  What was real? What was “fake news? Is this all a hoax? 

What do you want audiences to take away from the show?

I hope it reminds people that despite our differences, we are all enduring the “human experience” together and in the end deserve love and grace.   

If you could play any one of the 5 tracks in the play—James, Nick, Rebecca, Anita, or Phil—who would you choose and why?

I based the character of Anita on my mother and I love her so much. When I read the play out loud, I always imitate her sweet little voice. I think I would kill that role! 

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