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MainStage Series

Michael Merino


Michael Merino has been writing and directing plays for over twenty years. As a member of the Dramatists Guild, Woolly Mammoth Playwrights’ Playground, Lower Garden Project Theater, and Doorika / Purée, he has developed complex and inscrutable texts that befuddle and bewitch his audiences. His works have been performed and workshopped nationally and internationally at places like the Kennedy Center (Washington, DC), the Contemporary Arts Center (New Orleans), the Pataphysics Playwriting Workshop at The Flea Theater (New York), l’Ogresse (Paris, France), and various malls, bars, coffee houses, and erstwhile auto parts stores. His plays have also been presented at the New Orleans and DC Capital Fringe festivals. Michael was a winner of the Emerging Voices Playwrighting Competition, a first place winner and a semi-finalist of the Theatre Oxford’s Ten-Minute Play Contest, a finalist of SETC’s Charles M. Getchell New Playwrighting Project, and a semi-finalist at the Playwright’s Center’s PlayLabs Festival.

Artist and Protector of Children: The Life of Henry Darger

Artist and Protector of Children: The Life of Henry Darger explores Darger’s two realms, the real and the unreal, and illustrates how one informed the other.  The play begins with Darger as a war correspondent in his epic, The Realms of the Unreal, which is set on an imaginary planet where Catholic nations are at war with the Satanic Glandelinia.  The plot weaves together events from Darger’s childhood and his life as a janitor with heroic tales where he, along with the saintly Vivian Girls, attempts to rescue enslaved children and avenge the murder of the leader of a child slave rebellion.

Darger steps in and out of his own narrative to wrestle with violent storms, a waning belief in an unresponsive God, and schizophrenic episodes.  As the play draws to a close, the Vivian Girls visit Darger in Chicago, and forgive him of his treachery and moral lapses.