Q&A: Who Killed Spalding Gray?

Daniel MacIvor on the inspiration behind his latest solo show

Written and performed by Daniel MacIvor
Directed by Daniel Brooks

Daniel MacIvor in Who Killed Spalding Gray?

On the weekend of January 11, 2004, American monologist Spalding Gray ended his life by jumping off the Staten Island Ferry in New York.

This month, acclaimed Canadian playwright and Governor General Award-winner Daniel MacIvor brings Spalding's story to life in his solo show Who Killed Spalding Gray?, on stage June 20 and 21 as part of the 7 Monologues series at the Luminato Festival. In the play, MacIvor weaves a fictional connection between Gray's life and his own.

Here, MacIvor gives us some background on the origins of his facination with the late artist.

Theatromania: What compelled you to write and perform a piece about Spalding Gray?

DM: I was working on The Best Brothers at Stratford in 2012 and I told a story at rehearsal one day about an experience I’d had in California the weekend that Spalding Gray committed suicide in New York. My dramaturge Iris Turcott was in the room and she told me that this story must be my next solo show. I wasn’t too sure at first if I wanted to go where the story might take me, but in time it turned out that as usual, Iris was right.

Theatromania: What kind of research did you do for this part?

DM: I had been aware of Spalding because over my many years of touring with the previous solo shows I had been on many of the same circuits as he had been. People often remarked that I reminded them of him, I didn’t really see it, but I had this odd, sort of forced connection with him. After the idea of the show emerged I read his journals, published in 2012 and then took several trips to New York, stomping his ground you might say. Also the New York Public Library has a wing devoted to archival tapes of Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, you just have to call and book a monitor and tell them the shows you are looking for and you can spend days there. That is how I was able to see him in performance in some of his lesser known work and both before and after his greater fame.

Theatromania: Can you tell us one unusual thing you have in common with Gray?

DM: I can tell you three, We both were nearly killed in car accidents, we both have tinnitus, and we both do one-man shows.

Theatromania: What have you learned from this experience so far?

DM: Spalding is still with us.

See MacIvor in Who Killed Spalding Gray? June 20 - 21 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre (231 Queens Quay West). Visit luminatofestival.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sat, 2015-06-20 - Sun, 2015-06-21


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