OH MY HALEY, here we go again!
”I was dating a comedian few years ago, and I started thinking about why is it that when a man makes a big romantic gesture people generally are quite charmed, and he's celebrated, but when a woman does the same gesture for a man, she's deemed desperate and crazy?” Canadian Haley McGee looks at this gesture as a trope and plays with the gender dynamics in her solo I'm Doing This for You (directed by Mitchell Cushman), which is already her second show in Tampere Theatre Festival.
Haley McGee is an internationally acclaimed performer and writer who has toured her solos around the world. Her awarded solo OH MY IRMA (2011) toured from Canada to Mongolia with over 100 shows, among them the performances in Tampere Theatre Festival 2014. Her new solo I'm Doing This for You premiered in the fall of 2015, and she has also performed it internationally – stopping next at Tampere Theatre Festival 2016.
McGee's resume includes several theatre plays as well as films and tv-shows, as she has performed as a guest star in the popular Murdoch mysteries tv-show, for example. She holds a BFA in Acting from Ryerson University (2007). Initially McGee did not plan to become a playwriter, but after showing a script to her instructor at Ryerson Theatre School and receiving an enthusiastic response, she started to write.
McGee is said to be a ”hugely talented writer and performer” (The Skinny), and when watching her perform ”you'll be left hanging on her every word, movement and facial expression” (Three Weeks). In her solo I'm Doing This for You the audience gets to watch how her fascinating, distinctive character hilariously, but also in a tragic way, tries to rekindle her romance. The audience gets to wait for the guest of honour to arrive while the perfect gift starts to fall apart and reveal the truth about her relationship with her man.
McGee hopes the audience will come up with their own meaning and interpretation for the show. For McGee, the work has been an exploration of the compromises she witnesses her peers and herself make in order to maintain a romantic relationship. The show is also about loneliness even though it is a romantic projection and about the conundrum of attraction.
"I'm Doing This for You is a controlled demolition – a spectacle of delight and horror, an act of incredible showmanship, in which Haley compellingly builds her entirely-too-believable character only to carefully choreograph her implosion. By the end everything is a glorious mess, just as it should be." (Andy Field, Co-AD Forest Fringe, London)
The character in McGee's solo is one segment of her, an embodiment, that she zooms right in on, blows up and distorts. However, she says her work is not autobiographical. Ultimately she is interested in creating a fictional world where the characters take a life of their own. With a mask she can get closer to the truth, truth based on her own feelings and thoughts, which she finds freeing and fun.
“The polarity between hilarity and despair is what fascinates me and I try to get both into every moment of everything I write”, said McGee in Toronto Star's interview about the solo OH MY IRMA. She loves exploring boundaries and says she always flirts with the question ”how much is too much?”. By smashing together drama and comedy she makes people laugh even in dire situations. According to her, the best comedy comes out of situations where there is a vital need for levity. In I'm Doing This for You she draws parallels even between comedy and sex.
”I want people to feel the darkness so the laugh is even better, such a relief. I want us to celebrate being in a room, witnessing the same thing together. With this show, I hope the audience leaves with hope. At the very least they'll leave with cake.”
– Katri Weckroth
Interview with McGee