Cameron Mackenzie and Dave Deveau want children. Three in fact. And they aren’t afraid to let Vancouver audiences know it as they present Deveau’s Tiny Replicas, with partner Mackenzie directing, as part of the inaugural Neanderthal Arts Festival beginning July 21st.
Originally commissioned in 2007 by the Playwrights Theatre Centre, Tiny Replicas has evolved from what Deveau originally conceived as a gay fairy tale, to a piece about a gay couple who, on approaching thirty, want a baby.
While the show is based in reality, Deveau is quick to point out that there are some subtle differences between Tiny Replicas and what he and Mackenzie have planned in real life, which includes getting married first.
“We are also not looking to start our family until well into our thirties,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll have three! We’ve chatted quite a bit about how each of us will father a child and then perhaps adopt a third. But we simply won’t tell them who’s adopted – though it may become obvious to them later in life.”
The journey to the stage for Tiny Replicas has been what Deveau describes as “a long one” but one that he is also really excited about.
“I was more than thrilled that Playwrights Theatre Centre took a chance on me with this commission and I really struggled to get to the first draft that they staged in 2007,” said Deveau. “The play went on the backburner for a long time as I was finishing up my MFA.”
But when the piece was accepted for the June 2009 IGNITE! Festival in Calgary, Deveau saw it as his golden opportunity to complete the work and get his first draft to where he always felt it could end up.
“It gave me that excuse to finalize it and flesh it out to its full structure – the original was kind of incongruous: 9 months in 20 minutes!”
Having been together as a real-life couple now for five years, Deveau and Mackenzie say they are uniquely qualified to work together, especially in the context of a deeply personal play like Tiny Replicas.
“Cameron already has a sense of how these characters sound, how they argue because, let’s be honest, some of the arguments are taken verbatim from our lives,” confessed Deveau. “He is a really astute director who is also extremely willing to hear out my ‘playwright’s voice’ whispering in his ear when I feel an actor isn’t quite hearing the text the way I did in creating it. But likewise, he’s also good at arguing his points with me, and often winning! That’s a rare and precious relationship for a director/playwright to have.”
For Mackenzie it is the ability for both to bring different things to the table and while he admits that there is not always agreement, in the end they have a finished product that he says neither could fully anticipate nor create without the other.
“It’s more intimate than working with a stranger’s script, and it of course does have its challenges too,” admits Mackenzie. “Certainly for this one it is so close to home – literally – I can almost hear in my own head how Dave hears it in his because it often draws from our own life. This idea of egg donation from one friend and surrogacy from another is how I always envisioned having kids and shared with Dave really early on in our relationship. I see a lot of each of us in the characters so it’s much easier to direct as a result.”
It’s probably a good thing that Mackenzie and Deveau appear to work so well together since they are already planning their next stage collaboration with Mackenzie producing Deveau’s My Funny Valentine, the tragic story of Lawrence King who was killed after asking a boy in his class to be his valentine, next spring.
And by the time My Funny Valentine hits the stage Deveau and Mackenzie will be that much closer to their own tiny replicas.
Neanderthal Arts Festival
21 July – 1 August 2010