Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
I’m Dan MacDonald. You might recognize my voice from 939 The River - I'm the host of The Afternoon Drive - and I also host and produce a weekly show called Hear + Now which showcases local music! As far as theatre goes, I've performed in local theatre since 2010 - including the DRAG Trilogy at Kordazone, I was in the musical (title of show), - also some really fun roles in plays like Entertaining Mr. Sloane, The Divine Sister and the gender-bending Theodora: She-Bitch of Byzantium to name a few. I’m pumped to be working with Post Productions for the first time!
Clearly your theatre experience is mostly in edgy gender - ending plays. How is playing a character like George in Stop Kiss different for you? Was the transition difficult?
Believe it or not, playing George is actually CLOSER to the real me than the other roles I've played. George works in the service industry (I did as well for about 10 years), he likes to party, he seems to have a bit of fluidity when it comes to the people he's with, he's laid back, a little bit directionless but ultimately he's probably considered a nice guy with a small wild streak. I see plenty of myself in that character!
That gives us a pretty good sense of who George is. How does he fit into the story and themes of Stop Kiss?
I feel like there are so many themes of identity in the play - people searching, finding, becoming who they are - and George is someone who seems secure and confident in who he is. Not perfect, but not trying to be. I love his confidence. Mostly - I love his warmth. He loves to party and be social, but his heart is always in the right place when it comes to his close friends. Callie is a close friend. He loves her - but I feel it's a true love. More than “girlfriend love”. It’s a love that has evolved to something far stronger than romantic - it's almost more like family. That said – I do think there is a small bit of sadness when he realizes how his relationship with Callie is changing – although I believe he accepts it fully, because he’s an “it is what it is” kind of guy.
George really does seem to embody a particular kind of love - what Bertrand Russell called creative love as opposed to possessive love -- the kind that is open and welcoming and respectful of the dignity of others. Do you see this as the sort of love that dominates the story of Stop Kiss, or is it one of several alternatives at work in this story? How complex is love on this play?
It's so true. George's love is not the SLIGHTEST bit possessive or selfish - just open! He wants to have fun and he wants everyone else to have fun, too. A little bit hedonistic - but an ethical hedonist! I don't think George ever intends to hurt anyone - but he appreciates people who carry the same "open door / zero drama" policy when it comes to romance. Love seems to be moving into uncharted territory for many of the characters in the show. Peter is losing what may have been the love of his life. Callie might be discovering real love for the first time. George's love for his friend is evolving into something deeper than just a good friend with benefits. The characters - almost all of them, including Mrs. Winsley - seem to be in the process of figuring out where they stand with their significant others. Like any relationship - it's all a work in progress, all a beautiful struggle. But - love is complex and as simple as it can be - it can be equally complicated. The love in this play is all true - and much of it has some baggage.
What has the rehearsal process been like for you, personally, as you’ve experienced the play evolve and take place?
The rehearsals have been fantastic. I love that we do some character study and examine who everyone in the story is. What I most love is the timeline of this show. The scenes are not in chronological order - and watching the show evolve and the way the timelines come together to tell this story make it SO impactful! To me it backs up themes of connection ... and disconnection. Emotional and physical. There are connections ... and there are disconnects. Rehearsing the scenes in order, and then watching how the scenes fall into their proper place in the script - it almost created a whole other show for me -and seeing some of the scenes I was in, in context with the other scenes they fell between gave me insight into the story and characters.
Why should people see Stop Kiss? What's in it for them?
So many great reasons to see Stop Kiss. Mostly - it's a simple story, but like ALL simple things, nothing is ever TRULY simple. This is a show about raw love; it's warm, it's shocking, it's tense, it's charming, it's touching. It's tight writing and a timeline that will keep people guessing. It's an honour to work with some of my favourite people in our city's theatre scene in this show - and throw in some music from one of my favourite local artists - Flower Face. I think going to see this show will be an emotional experience: fun, entertaining, but also heavy. I'm sure the trajectory of our lives changes every single SECOND. This is really about one single moment and how it can change everything we know - about life, and about ourselves.
Photo by Jacques Scheepers Photography