Daniel MacIvor, renowned playwright and actor, is bringing his talents back to Winnipeg with his latest play Small Things, which sees its world premiere at the Prairie Theatre Exchange (PTE) on October 16.
Bob Metcalfe, artistic director at PTE, notes that MacIvor has an acute sense for delving into the human psyche. “Daniel MacIvor is an outstanding and award-winning playwright who has a keen eye for the nature of relationships,” he says. “In this show, he takes a look at how the differences [between people] are not as large as we sometimes think.”
Small Things examines the dichotomy between castes, with an elderly socialite taking an interest in the family of her poorer housekeeper. The play’s a commentary on the class structure that is often a barrier between people of different backgrounds in modern society.
In the play, the character of Patricia (Barbara Gordon) is an aging woman of grace and wealth who hires an underprivileged woman named Birdy (Ellen Peterson) to be her housekeeper. Their uneasy relationship is further complicated when Patricia becomes absorbed with Dell (Alissa Watson), who is Birdy’s daughter; Dell is uncertain about her life, and such vacillation is compounded by the fact that her young son may be transgender.
“It’s a story about these women who are kind of finding their place after a lot of changes have happened to them,” says Watson, a Winnipeg-based performer. “My character is a bit lost and a bit stuck and she doesn’t know how to move forward in life.”
It’s a situation that echoes Watson’s personal life as well: she always loved music and theatre, but struggled with how to incorporate those feelings into a career path. Eventually, she graduated from Brandon University with a major in education with a minor in theatre. But it was only after teaching primary school for a few years that she understood her heart was elsewhere.
“I realized I wanted to pursue acting full-time, so I continued studying at PTE and took some workshops in England before I took the plunge into acting as a career,” Watson says. “Teaching just wasn’t enough for me, and I realized that acting was what I wanted to do. I was already familiar with the PTE family, and Bob recognized that I may be a good fit for this character, so I was kind of lucky in that regard.”