Toronto Diary
3 min

Another thing to be proud of

Edited at 8:47pm — An earlier version of this post stated that Alex Fiddes, an actor in the show Icarus Redux, is queer. He is actually straight. I sincerely regret the error. 

Is there eanything more fun that watching Conservatives self-immolate? Tory backbencher Brad Trost started up a shit-storm this week when he leaked to that $400,000 in federal funding awarded to Toronto Pride through the Marquis Tourism Events Program (which I’ve previously reported on) has caused such an outrage in the Tory caucus that Diane Ablonczy has had the program removed from her. What’s outrageous about this story isn’t just that Pride is exactly the sort of event that MTEP is designed to fund, or even that the grant was apparently used to improve wheelchair accessibility at Pride events. It’s the idea that even in 2009, Pride can be considered “controversial” or “political” — long after the organisation itself has avowed itself apolitical to the chagrin of many gay marchers. No doubt this is exactly why Harper doesn’t let his MPs talk to media very often.

But hey, if you want to see something that really ought to embarrass the Tories, here’s a video of PM Stephen Harper committing sacrilege at the state funeral of former Governor-General Romeo Leblanc. Now, it’s been a while since I studied catechism, but if I remember correctly, receiving the host and then not immediately eating it is both insulting and a major act of sacrilege in the Catholic Church. I wonder if Harper wwill apologise to the Pope over this one.

Ah, Harper-bashing. So fun. For even more Harper-bashing, come check out my play, Fucking Stephen Harper: How I Sexually Assaulted the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada and Where It Got Me, playing at the Fringe Festival, tonight at 10pm at the Glen Morris Theatre (4 Glen Morris St).

There’s lots of other queer content at the Fringe Festival as well. Perhaps one of the most controversial and thought-provoking is Icarus Redux by Sean O’Neill. A haunting exploration of the Icarus myth and a creepy exploration of all aspects of father-son love, this play may leave you feeling queasy as it challenges you to confront a relationship marred by loss, death, mental illness, and a generation gap that looms like a canyon. I caught this the other day, and highly commend the skilled acting and lovely design work. I also caught up with young queer playwright Sean O’Neill to ask him about this challenging work.

Rob Salerno: How does being queer influence your comedic/dramatic sensibilities?

Sean O’Neill: I think that my queerness affects my writing in a similar way as it does my personality in the sense that it is intrinsic but not defining. There’s a gay character in the play. There’s a lot about bridging the gap between a gay son and a straight (and repressive) father. What there isn’t is a lot of strife over is being queer. Gay marriage became legal in Canada when I was sixteen. I’ve had the luxury of not having to fight for my civil rights, for my freedom, for acceptance and I think that reflects in my writing around queerness.

RS: What’s the gayest thing about performing on the Fringe circuit?

SO: Tough one. Although the other night I went to the Fringe tent for a drink after our show and there were like fifty theatre twinks bumping chests on the dance floor to a constant stream of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry songs. That was pretty gay.

RS: What’s your show about and why are you doing it?

SO: Our play’s a contemporary retelling of the Icarus Myth (Icarus, the boy who flies too close to the sun and Daedalus, the father who makes the wings), except here the story is told from Daedalus’ perspective- a father struggling with grief, memory and vision following the death of his son. There’s a lot of humour in the piece, some dreamy-fantasy moments, and some beautiful wings, if I do say so myself. Idea-wise, I’d wanted to do something with this particular story for a long time, I was really interested in making a work that highlighted and even commented on its mythological gene pool, and the stunning imagery built into the myth led me to believe that theatre was the right medium for the project. 

RS: Why should Toronto’s gays see your show? If possible, answer in ten words or less without using the letter “h”.

SO: Because it is smart, funny, intense, and there’s a cute boy in his underwear [note: cute — but straight — actor Alex Fiddes].


Icarus Redux is playing at St. Vladimir’s Theatre and is next on tonight at 8pm. Tickets are $10 at the door or in advance at 416-966-1062 or online