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June 9, 2017

An Interview With Gender Warrior Malic White

Malic White in Hir

Emily Townley (Paige) and Malic White (Max) in Hir. Photo by Scott Suchman.

The young performer, playwright, and self-described gender warrior Malic White is in town from Chicago making a singularly significant debut on a D.C. stage playing Max, a whip-smart radical queer resister to heteronormativity. The play—Taylor Mac’s Hir—is a seditious celebration of gender liberation. It is also, as I wrote in my column, one of the funniest and profoundest farces I’ve ever seen.

A major factor in the play’s profundity is White’s punky, impudent performance as Max. I sensed the actor and character had a lot in common. White seemed so real, raw, and revelatory in the role, I was curious to know where they were coming from.

John: Thank you for this interview, Malic! I loved the play Hir, I loved your performance in it, and I loved the role you play, Max. I’d like to begin by asking you to tell readers about that character. Who is Max? What is ze like? What is hir story?

Malic: Max is the 17-year-old child of Paige and Arnold and sibling to Isaac. Ze has recently come into hir trans identity. Max is sharp, passionate, idealistic, surly, horny, and ever-changing. Max is an observer and an uncertain leader, a glitter-encrusted mermaid (mer-person?) on the bow of the family ship.

Who is Max to hir mother Paige, hir father Arnold, hir brother Isaac? And who is Max to you?

To Paige, Max is a teacher. To Arnold, Max is a nuisance. To Isaac, Max is a puzzle. I see Max as a survivor.

How did Woolly find you for the role?

I sought out this play because I’m a fan of Taylor Mac’s work. I had previously performed at Woolly Mammoth with the Neo-Futurists, the Chicago-based theater company I’ve been part of since 2012, so when I learned that Woolly would include Hir in their season, I hunted down director Shana Cooper’s email address and asked to send her a video audition for Max.


To read more from John’s interview with Malic, click here >