S. Asher Gelman on Afterglow, ‘This journey taught me the essential nature of honesty, clarity, and communication’

S. Asher Gelman’s raw, funny, and sensual exploration of polyamory, commitment, and modern love, Afterglow, tells the story of Josh and Alex, a married couple in an open relationship. When they invite Darius to share their bed for a night, a new and intimate connection is ignited. Relationships are challenged and futures are shaken as all three men come to terms with their individual definitions of love, loyalty, and trust.

The new production reunites the original creative team, which, as well as Gelman includes set designer Ann Beyersdorfer, lighting designer Jamie Roderick and sound designer Alex Mackyol for its return to Southwark Playhouse. Costume designer Justin Nardella, intimacy director Lee Crowley and casting director Anne Vosser have also joined the team for the play’s run at Southwark Playhouse Borough, where it opens on 12 January.

We caught up with Gelman to find out what its like to be returning to Southwark Playhouse, and the real-life inspiration for the play.

Q&A with S. Asher Gelman

What can you tell us about your play Afterglow?

Afterglow tackles the intricate dynamics between three men struggling to navigate their complex relationships and feelings.  It’s a deep dive into uncharted emotional territories, brought to life on stage with striking visuals, including the famous onstage shower.  The play offers a diverse range of elements for our audience, and, of course, a healthy bit of nudity.

Can you tell us about the original inspiration for the play?

Nearly a decade ago, after my husband and I decided to open our relationship, I found myself in an extra-marital relationship that almost ended our marriage. Learning to navigate through this challenging and devastating time ultimately brought us closer and strengthened our bond. This was the catalyst for me to, as Carrie Fisher said, ‘take my broken heart and make it into art.’ The creation of Afterglow launched my career, and introduced me to an incredible team of collaborators, with whom I still have the pleasure of working with today. It’s important to note that, much like the character Josh from the play, I have two primary partners – my husband Mati, of 14 years, and my partner Stefano, for three years. We’ve built a beautiful family together. This journey taught me the essential nature of honesty, clarity, and communication, especially in managing complex emotions in any relationship.

What’s it like to be bringing the play back to Southwark Playhouse and ‘getting the band back together’ by reuniting the original creative team for the run?

I cannot adequately express what an absolute joy it is to bring our original, record-breaking creative team back together for a third time (after the Off-Broadway and Los Angeles productions).  Bringing this play back to London, and getting to do so while fully realizing the continued evolution of our original vision for the show is such a dream.  I love what I do, and I love the people I get to do it with.  May every artist find such incredible collaboration.

What has it been like to see the play gain such praise internationally?

In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined that something I was involved in has had such an incredible reception.  I am full of gratitude and deep appreciation for everyone who has been a part of our Afterglow family.

What do you hope audiences take away Afterglow?

I hope audiences learn not to be afraid of their feelings.  I hope they learn that many things can be true at once.  I hope they learn to be kinder to each other, and themselves.  I hope they learn the importance of having difficult, necessary conversations.  I hope they learn how to communicate better, and how important open and honest communication is.

Afterglow runs at Southwark Playhouse Borough from 12 January to 10 February.  For more information and tickets, visit the theatre’s website.