Q&A: Bingo!

Nova Scotian playwright Daniel MacIvor on bringing his hometown comedy to Toronto

Presented by Factory Theatre
Written by Daniel MacIvor
Directed by Nigel Shawn Williams

Photo by Joanna Akyol.

Set in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Daniel MacIvor's play Bingo! is making its Toronto debut at Factory Theatre this month in a new production directed by Nigel Shawn Williams (opening May 8). Described as the "Cape Breton version of The Big Chill," Bingo! follows a group of old friends as they attempt to rekindle their relationships (between drinking games, of course) at their 30th high school reunion. Featuring a powerhouse Canadian cast, inluding orginial production member John Beale, as well as Sarah Dodd, David Keeley, Dov Mickelson and Jane Spidell, the show promises to be a fun and touching look at mid-life yearning, regret and letting go.

We caught up with MacIvor to find out more about his personal connection to this nostalgic piece.

Theatromania: How would you describe Bingo! in a few sentences?

DM: Bingo! is a comedy with a simple message about taking action. Five characters meet again at their 30th high school reunion. Some have maintained contact, some have drifted, some have ventured out into the world, some have never left home. It looks at how so much of the way we behave as adults reflects the people we were in high schoolthe bullies remain the bullies, the freaks the freaks. But we have an opportunity, with the perspective of age, to understand how change isn’t effected so much by changing who we are but by accepting who we are.

Theatromania: Has the production changed much since it first premiered?

DM: In the early drafts the play was pretty much straight ahead comedy and the characters clearly identifiable archetypes. Once I started working with the actors I became more interested in their motivations so as I worked on the play I let the characters reveal who they were and what they wanted. These reveals became monologues for each of the characters. It would be against the play to have the characters be able to speak this way to one another so I have them each take a moment with the audience to expose something of who that are and what they want. This was in place by the time the play premiered in Halifax and I found it gave the play a bit more depth. It was more satisfying for the audience.

Theatromania: Which character do you most identify with?

DM: Probably the controlling characters. I love Dookie, the bully, because I understand why he needs to take control, I see the nature of his insecurity. But if I could play any character I’d probably want to play Boots. She’s a kind of female Dookiethough her controlling nature doesn’t come from insecurity but rather from full assurance that she knows what’s best. As does mine.

Theatromania: What do you love most about your hometown (Cape Breton)?

DM: The importance of sense of humour and it’s particular bent. At its core is a balance between cynicism and sentimentality everything is sardonic and heart-felt at the same time. It feels true to life to me, authentic.

Theatromania: Did you learn anything new or significant while working on this piece?

DM: Originally the play was something of a lark for me. Something that my brother and his pals would like. But as I sat with audiencesmade up of more than just my brother and his palsI felt from them an overwhelming sense of relief thatat least for tonight in the theatrethey were having fun. I have a tendency to want to be seen as sophisticatedperhaps a result of so many years of having been a Caper Bretoner trying to pass as a big city boyand Bingo! is a populist work. For me there was a fear in this, that I was exposing myself as unsophicticaed, but sitting with the audience in their pleasure I felt no fear at all, I felt that I was performing a needed service. They were having fun. At least for tonight.

Bingo! runs until June 1 at Factory Theatre. Visit factorytheatre.ca for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sat, 2014-05-03 - Sun, 2014-06-01


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