Ask actor-writer Charlie Rhindress about the meaning of the title of Boo, his solo show at the Atlantic Fringe Festival, and he'll give you multiple answers.
"Actually Boo was my nickname growing up, as in 'Boo-boo,'" he says, explaining with good-natured candour that he was an unexpected pregnancy for his young mother. "And it's also 'boo!' as in fear, because the main character in the play is afraid of something that he's trying very hard not to deal with. And finally, it could be 'boo,' if people don't like the show," he adds.
The play began its life as a series of satirical postings by Rhindress on Facebook. The postings, called the "Rhindress Method," purported to help actors learn their craft by following such tips as "Keep expectations low. Remind everyone, regularly, that you are a bad actor."
Emmy Alcorn, artistic director of Mulgrave Road Theatre, wanted to help Rhindress to turn the tips into a one-man show. She paired Rhindress with Daniel MacIvor, and after a workshop series, Boo was born.
"The play we have now is not at all what I had planned," says Rhindress. "I was also working on an autobiographical play at the time, and we eventually decided to put the two pieces together so that we ended up with something completely different."
MacIvor describes the process in one of his postings at danielmacivor.com: "Yesterday worked with Charlie on his show. So far I've managed to help him destroy the lovely little piece he initially created while mining for something deeper. I guess it's like gardening. You've got to make a big ugly hole to start."
Rhindress laughs when asked if this excavation process has been difficult. "Daniel has really been putting me through my paces, pushing me to make sure I get there. Sometimes it's hard, but I love the way his mind works and he's been a great influence."
The final incarnation of Boo is a funny and heartbreaking story of a man trying desperately to forget his troubled past by making people laugh. But the harder he tries to be funny, the more it's clear he's haunted by something he doesn't want to reveal.
MacIvor says that the piece will have special resonance for anyone who works in theatre, but that it will also speak to a wider audience. "Anyone who has been in a difficult relationship is going to be able to relate to Boo," he says. "And I think it's probably fair to say that's just about everybody."