Daniel MacIvor found inspiration for his latest play, A Beautiful View, in the sex lives of people in their 20s. The writer-director found that 20-somethings were more polyamorous and less likely to define their sexuality than older generations.
"That shows some sort of social evolution," says MacIvor. "People are just more open to a living experience, as opposed to having to fit inside a box."
The east coast premiere of A Beautiful View, which opens October 13 at Neptune Studio, challenges us to discard the labels we've created for ourselves and our relationships. The play explores the relationship between Mandy and Liz, who are struggling to come to terms with the sexual nature of their friendship---neither identifies as lesbian.
"My character really does want to live in a world where we can get beyond labels, where the individual and the person is what's foremost," says Jackie Torrens (Liz), "as opposed to gender or skin colour or another kind of distinction."
Kathryn MacLellan's Mandy is a complex woman, who she describes as innocent, vulnerable and prone to putting her foot in her mouth. "She has sort of a joie de vivre and she wants to put herself out there, but with a bit more reticence," explains MacLellan.
The women invent colourful stories to impress each other---Mandy tells Liz that she's in a ukulele band called Ukuler, which she describes as "intentionally" under the radar.
Torrens, MacLellan and MacIvor, who've formed a theatre company, The Distinct Theatre Society, are hard at work rehearsing in a virtually bare room at Neptune. The stage won't look much different on opening night, says MacIvor, it will be "empty, right to the concrete walls." Though his dialogue is intentionally accessible, the play's blocking, lighting and timing leaps add postmodern and meta-theatrical elements to his work.
In one scene, Liz and Mandy engage in small talk from opposite sides of the stage, gazing in different directions. This sense of isolation is heightened through the use of individual lighting for each character. The timing in the scene shifts sharply. In a flash, both women are years older, reflecting on the events which just transpired onstage, are physically close and facing one another when they speak. This creates a sense of collision, which will be elevated by the fact that they'll suddenly share lighting.
"Daniel's writing is very precise," says MacLellan. "You don't want to miss a word, because every word means something and he's orchestrated it beautifully."
While MacIvor's work is carefully constructed, it is certainly not rigid. MacLellan and Torrens embrace a captivating naturalism within the precise blocking.
MacIvor calls the theatre his "church," which explains his careful attention to detail. "The theatre exists as a kind of a limbo between life and an afterlife," he says. "It's almost like, in our journey between life and the afterlife, we have to pass through a theatre and explain something to these witnesses, the audience."
In MacIvor's limbo, he's forced to analyze his views on love. "Boy, just look at my track record and I do not know what that's all about," he laughs, "but for some reason I keep thinking about it."
This is a relatable sentiment, making A Beautiful View incredibly relevant in an age of fuzzy relationships, collapsing roles and sexual norms.