Award winning gay Canadian playwright Daniel MacIvor is in town directing a production of his A Beautiful View. We caught up with Daniel between rehearsals to talk about his plays, his career, being out and his new gaysploitation-teen-revenge-thriller screenplay.
Tell us about A Beautiful View. What is it about?
Two women, Linda and Mitch, meet in their 20’s and develop a deep and complicated friendship for the next 20 years, which they reenact for us, the audience, here tonight in the theatre, for reasons that become clear as the play develops. It is about friendship, love and labels.
In some of the press materials you talk about A Beautiful View as “a love story about friendship”. Does that mean you believe all friendships have love?
In my experience my deepest relationships have been my friendships. I have a number of friends I have known and stayed close to for 20 plus years and so there is a deep love there, a definitive kind of love, a love upon which all other ideas of love are based.
The play is about two women that meet while shopping for camping equipment. Why camping?
Camping evokes nature. Nature to me is the centre of our world and it is the closest we come to the Divine. Their meeting in a camping store reflects their search for something deeper, higher, truer. Also, I happen to like camping.
You talk about A Beautiful View being all about what the actors bring to the play. How important then is casting for you? Did you specifically ask Colleen Wheeler and Diane Brown to be part of the show here in Vancouver?
When Diane expressed an interest in the script as the producer of Ruby Slippers she also spoke of wanting to be in the show. I felt that was a very good fit. I knew Colleen had been in my play You Are Here when it was produced here by Horseshoes and Handgrenades and I was eager to work with her so I asked about her and Diane immediately agreed that it would be an excellent idea.
You’re an actor as well. Which is easier for you, acting, directing or writing? Which do you enjoy more?
They all have their perks and their challenges. I think at the end of the day I feel most connected speaking my own text. I am most challenged by directing, it demands patience and generosity and selflessness, and that work helps me become a better person, so that’s a good thing. And my passport application lists me as “writer”, so I guess that’s how I’m most comfortable identifying
Do you prefer to direct your own plays?
Yes. I don’t have interest in directing other people’s plays. Well, I’ve never been asked so … But I do feel that as the writer I understand the questions of the play. As long as I take my writer’s hat off while I’m directing I feel as if I can get deeper into the play, knowing the light and dark of it from the underneath, as it were.
Have you seen any of your plays directed by anyone other than yourself? Does it bother or intrigue you when someone else directs your plays?
Yes. And I mostly enjoy that experience. As long as people just approach the work with simplicity and don’t dig for hidden meanings or try to weigh it down with concepts.
A Beautiful View comes from your collection, I Still Love You, which won the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2006. How important was it to you to receive this recognition?
It was obviously an honour. It meant a lot to my family as well. And I had the chance to hang out a bit with Her Excellency Michaelle Jean who is truly the real deal and as smart and and elegant as she appears to be.
You mention that Vancouver is an inspirational place for you both in terms of your work and your life. Can you expand on why it is inspirational to you?
I guess in some ways its the nature thing. The sea, the park, the mountains. Also, Vancouver is a city where people live because they have made a choice about lifestyle that seems to be less about career. In Toronto people often choose that city because of where it can get them. In Vancouver it feels as if people are where they are not where they’re going. It’s a city where I feel present.
Do you have a favourite play that you have written and if so, why is it your favourite?
My plays are like my children. I don’t like to pick a favourite. I seem to care most about the one I’m with at the moment.
You’ve acted for the stage, television and film. Which do you prefer?
Stage please. I love the immediacy. The direct relationship with the audience.
Do you think being out has hindered you in your career?
Not at all. I encourage everyone to come out. There’s more room out here than in the closet. And it means you don’t have to become myopic around one element of your life, this “secret” to be hidden. Life’s too short.
You know I have to ask – married or single?
Single. Dating. Single.
What’s next for Daniel MacIvor?
I’m off to Banff for two weeks to hide away in the woods working on a new play for the Banff Centre called Arigato, Tokyo and I’m also teaching a two day Masterclass there called “Play Finding”. Next year I begin touring my new solo show, developed with Daniel Brooks, called This Is What Happens Next. Also, my writing partner Amnon Buchbinder and I are shopping around our new screenplay called Eugene – its a gaysploitation-teen-revenge-thriller.
(Ed Note: okay so we might have stretched the truth a bit with our article title. Daniel DID mention his new screenplay but I guess we’ll just have to wait and find out more about that another time).
A Beautiful View
4-13 December at Performance Works, 1218 Cartwright St, Granville Island
16-19 December at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, 6450 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
Tickets for the Vancouver shows are available through VancouverTix.com or by calling 604‐629‐VTIX.
Tickets to the Burnaby shows are available at http://www.shadboltcentre.com or by calling 604‐205‐3000.