“It’s not your typical night out.” Going to see one of Daniel MacIvor’s plays, that is. This is What Happens Next, McIvor’s latest, three-years-running show, is making its last stop in Calgary.
“Why Calgary? Calgary’s like a third home for me. I’ve been coming to Calgary since I did the High Performance Rodeo in ’91 or ’92 and I’ve been coming ever since. Why Calgary? I don’t know. It seems like if I don’t have a show in Calgary, I don’t have a show.”
MacIvor particularly appreciates the chemistry and excitement of the audiences in Calgary as well. “The audiences in Calgary are really game: they’re gung-ho, they’re up for it. There’s that, I don’t know, maybe it’s a bit of the Wild West, but there’s something about the audiences that I love.”
MacIvor has been writing and acting in plays for 20 years. He has written and directed a bevy of award-winning productions, such as 2-2 Tango, This is a Play, How it Works, and See Bob Run. He describes them as all quite autobiographical and he uses his own life as inspiration often.
After his numerous years in the industry, MacIvor is confident onstage and “feels very comfortable. I think the clearest relationship I have in my life is the audience’s relationship in my shows. We both know what our parts are and we play them to the best of our ability. I love that relationship with the audience.” There is a chemistry that he feels onstage that allows him to perform like he does.
Originally from Nova Scotia, MacIvor admits that he would be more than happy to sit and describe how effed up life can be sometimes. But one thing of which he is certain is his acting and playwriting passion: “I don’t understand how any of this works, but I get how it works when I’m onstage.”
This is What Happens Next is a collaboration of ideas spawned from MacIvor and his partner, Daniel Brooks. “It’s not just me, it’s also Daniel Brooks. We make it together. There’s the designers too and they’re very involved from the beginning… there is kind of a family.”
The play was written to tell a certain story and MacIvor describes that story as “the life you live. You choose your story. If you want to tell stories of your misery and all the bullshit that’s happened to you, and all the resent that you have for other people, why you’re not what you should be, why you didn’t get what you’re supposed to, why you’re not loved like you should, then that’s going to be your life. If you choose to tell different stories, then that’s going to be your life.” This is What Happens Next leads viewers through the Kingdom of Kevin with a cast of archetypal characters meant to each personify aspects of MacIvor’s fantastical autobiography. The Kingdom is fraught with dark tales of divorce, addiction, John Denver and even the Little Mermaid — this is MacIvor’s life, but it could just as easily be yours.
He says the play is going to be dark, always with some humour involved to provide comic relief. This is What Happens Next is going to provide a stark realization that, as MacIvor describes as one of the main messages in the production, “People have more control over their lives then they think they do”.
Desperately seeking hope and a happy ending, This is What Happens Next will baffle audiences with its edge and not-so-upfront narrative. Because it is so detailed and stark, audiences won’t have a problem connecting with the messages within the play and the actor, MacIvor himself.
Daniel McIvor says his show is easily likeable. “If you like the work we’ve done before in Calgary and you liked it, you’ll like this show. If you’ve seen the work we’ve done before in Calgary and you didn’t like it, you’ll like this show.”
This is What Happens Next runs from January 23 to February 3 at the EPCOR Centre for Performing Arts as part of the High Performance Rodeo.
By Amanda Taylor