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Daniel MacIvor’s new script 

Editorial by Kyle Shaw

Sunday is a big day for Daniel MacIvor, the writer/actor. It’s his birthday—he was born 44 years ago in Sydney, Cape Breton—and he’s marking it with a performance of his play Cul-de-sac at Neptune’s Studio Theatre. The show is the Halifax debut of the acclaimed Cul-de-sac, and one of the last events of Pride Week. But biggest of all, Sunday’s performance is the finale for the play itself. “This is gonna be the final ever performance, ever. I’m done,” says MacIvor. “I’m gonna take it out and bury it in the backyard, and that will be that.”

As you might guess from the title, Cul-de-Sac is about a dead-end situation in a suburb. The story centres around our narrator, a gay outsider named Leonard, but is revealed with help from eight of his neighbours. “A violent event occurred in the cul-de-sac and there was a sound associated with that,” says MacIvor. “This sound travels through the neighbourhood and moves through every house in the night. We meet each person in the house who remembers hearing the sound and talks about that evening. They also talk about themselves.”

Alone on stage, MacIvor plays Leonard and the rest of the cast. “There’s a piece in it near two-thirds the way through,” MacIvor says, “where I perform a Christmas party with everyone at the neighbourhood there, so there’s nine people and I perform them all. Which is partly just showing off. But partly I did it because I knew I’d be touring the show for a long time, so I wanted to give myself something impossible to do so I’d keep engaged. It keeps me busy for 75 minutes for sure.”

On and off over the last three years, MacIvor has taken his show on the road, earning rave reviews from New York to Vancouver. He’s also earned a rest, considering the work involved in acting a neighbourhood to life. “The show has a very light touch in places, but it gets very, very dark. It’s an odd space to go for me,” MacIvor says. “It’s like 75 minutes of a day, but really this show ends up owning the whole day. I have to be careful not to get overstimulated. I couldn’t even go to a gallery when I was on tour with the show. The only thing I could do was maybe watch a couple hours of TV because it would numb my brain.”

But closing Cul-de-sac is about more than wrapping a stressful play to move on to the next one. In the bigger script, MacIvor is making life changes. After spending nearly 20 years based in Toronto, becoming established as perhaps Canada’s premier playwright, he has moved back to Halifax. And he’s getting out of acting altogether, planning finale shows of three of his other one-man plays—Here Lies Henry, Monster and House—and tying up various projects in order to concentrate on writing.

“I enjoy acting, but I don’t know if acting enjoys me. Acting, especially in this solo stuff, it really becomes the focus of one’s life. And I want to make my life the focus of my life more.”

As part of getting off the stage, MacIvor is working on a new project with his longtime collaborator (and Cul-de-sac co-creator) Daniel Brooks. “We’re developing a non-show show about stopping acting. In an effort to stop acting, I’m doing a show. It sounds crazy, but it all makes sense to me somehow.”

MacIvor has another major event lined up for this summer: He’s marrying his boyfriend. While he doesn’t want to talk about the personal details of his wedding, he has opinions about the politics of same-sex marriage. He sees Canada’s acceptance of SSM as a defining characteristic, symbolizing what sets the country apart from its American neighbour. “There is a ‘live and let live’ attitude here that just doesn’t exist there,” MacIvor says. “We’re different. And I love it.”

Cul-de-sac tickets are $20, available through the Neptune box office, 429-7070. I’m available through email: editor@thecoast.ca

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