My Funny Valentine speaks to the core of humanity

Zee Zee Theatre presents the return of Dave Deveau’s My Funny Valentine, based on the true story of 15 year-old Lawrence King who was shot twice in the head after asking his classmate Brandon McInerney to be his valentine.

Anton Lipovetsky appears in Dave Deveau's My Funny ValentineFirst presented in 2011, My Funny Valentine not only finds a new home at the Firehall Arts Centre, it also sees a change to its script and cast.

When the play first appeared, McInerney’s trial had not yet been completed.  It wasn’t until several months later that following an original mistrial, prosecutors went back to court a second time, but decided to drop the original hate crime charge.  A month later McInerney pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a 21 year prison sentence.

“The biggest change [from the original 2011 version] is that we can look back at the crime and all the trial information,” explains playwright Dave Deveau.  “Brandon is now serving his jail sentence and there is a sense of closure at a judicial level, even though the underlying themes and issues have not necessarily been resolved.”

The other big change for this updated version of Deveau’s play comes from the casting of Anton Lipovetsky (photo right), who plays the numerous characters in the story.

No stranger to working together, as the two had already been working on Deveau’s next play, Lipovetsky was seen as a logical fit to replace Kyle Cameron who is now working in New York.

“[The role is] an absolute gift to an actor,” says Lipovetsky.  “I feel tremendously lucky.”

Originally in talks with the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company to be part of their season, the opportunity to remount the show with them disappeared when the Playhouse closed its doors last year.  Fortunately, Deveau was able to find a replacement in the Firehall Arts Centre who conveniently had an opening in their own season.

“We approached Donna [Firehall Artistic Producer Donna Spencer] who had seen the show and was a really positive champion,” says Deveau.  “They needed a show and we needed a venue”.

With its new cast, an updated script and the serendipitous nature of its new venue, Deveau is poised once again to bring this “powerful and sophisticated” story and one of the best plays of 2011 back to the Vancouver stage.

“[My Funny Valentine] is important because as a society we haven’t learned all of our lessons,” says Deveau.  “We still hear about young kids killing themselves and others; those kids that feel like misfits and their lives end abruptly.  I wish I could say I had a way to stop this ‘trend’, but the only way I am able to wrestle with questions like this is to write about them and to have those conversations with an audience.”

More than just a conversation though, Deveau insists that My Funny Valentine also speaks to our core humanity and is designed to challenge.

“An audience is not going to agree with every character, but all of them have an innate humanity that is loveable and understandable,” he says.  “In that sense it enables us to see the best in people with whom we don’t agree and that is a lovely thing for a society to do.  It invites people to hear from people they don’t necessarily agree with, but find a common ground.”

My Funny Valentine
19 February – 2 March 2013
Firehall Arts Centre

A death goes far beyond its immediate surroundings: it echoes through a community. On February 11, 2008, in California, 14-year-old Lawrence King asked his classmate Brandon McInerney to be his valentine. The next day, McInerney shot King twice in the head. After being declared brain-dead, King passed away on February 14, 2008–Valentine’s Day. Visit http://www.zeezeetheatre.ca for more information.

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