As we continue the count down to the final performance of Intelligence at Arena Stage (and enjoy a special 10:00pm performance tonight!!!), I thought it would be nice to get to know our lovely cast a little better. I had a chance to speak with them about their passion for theatre, the relevance of this play, their relationship with their characters, and where we can see them next onstage. Next up, we have Ethan Hova, who plays Dr. Malik Nazari, the former head of Iraq's Chemical Weapons Testing Program. Please enjoy!
JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
ETHAN HOVA: As a child, I remember being brought - against my will - to a production of Jesus Christ Superstar at a local college. I fully expected it to be a dusty play about historic religious figures, and I remember being shocked and entralled from the first electric guitar riff. It feels funny to say my expectations of what theatre could be were challenged by an Andrew Lloyd Weber musical, but that experience made theatre feel relevant and cool to me as a child.
JL: Set in 2003, INTELLIGENCE is a historical fiction that examines the lies that led to
the war in Iraq, the impact of the war on the Iraqi people, and what happened when the Bush Administration retaliated against two U.S. citizens when the truth of those lies were revealed. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today’s audiences? .
EH: Well, it's always relevant to feel empathy and a genuine connection to humanity, and in this way, good theatre is always relevant. More specific to this play, however...we have a complicated relationship with truth in this country, especially when it comes to politics, and that relationship has only gotten murkier since Bush held office. It's important to ground ourselves in our recent history, and realize that these monumental betrayals paved the way for the abuses of reality we're seeing in the current administration.
JL: Who are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions, or belief system?
EH: I play Dr. Malik Nazari, the former (ficticious) head of the Iraqi chemical weapons program. We meet Malik years after his involvement in war crimes, and he's changed a lot. I think we share a sense of optimisim and trust in people.
JL: What do you hope the audience walks away thinking about after experiencing this play?
EH: I hope people walk away thinking about the impact of the war on the lives of Iraqi citizens, and how our current administration may be similarly interested in declaring war under dubious or outright false pretenses.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
EH: I move back to New York after Intelligence closes and I'll be working to develop new work with several playwrights there. You can learn more about what's next at my website: ethanhova.com.
ETHAN HOVA (Dr. Malik Nazari) makes his Arena Stage debut. He is a founding member of the New York theater collective, Exit, Pursued by a Bear and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre. D.C. credits include Guards at the Taj (Woolly Mammoth). Off-Broadway credits include Metro Cards (Ensemble Studio Theatre); The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra Go! (La MaMa); and Spinning the Times (Origin’s 1st Irish Theatre Festival, Best Actor Award Winner). Regional credits include Water by the Spoonful (Premiere Stages); Cock (Kinetic Theatre); and Tamara (Quantum Theatre). TV/film credits include The Blacklist, ER, E-Ring and Accepted. Ethan holds a B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University. Instagram: @ethanethane. www.ethanhova.com
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!