I recently had the chance to chat with playwright and theatre artist Sonny Mills. Many will remember Mill's Dora award nominated script, The Danish Play, which appeared in Toronto in 2002 and again in 2007. The play, based on Mill's great-aunt's diaries, also enjoyed both a national and international tour. No stranger to the Rhubarb Festival, Mills returns this year with a new theatre piece, M/F (Choose One), co-performed with David Benjamin Tomlinson with direction by Elley-Ray Hennessy.
Gay Theatre Toronto:
Without giving too much away, can you tell us a little about M/F (Choose One)?
It's an Odyssey of Love. It's an expression of frustration over this ridiculous, ingrained notion that there are two, and only two, genders. It's not true. It's fake.
I (Darren Stewart-Jones) produce an LGBTQ theatre festival, Gay Play Day, at Toronto's Alumnae Theatre every September. During our five year run, we've only seen one trans playwright (Rex Emerson Jackson) submit a script. I'd like to improve that number. How important is it for trans stories to be seen on stage?
You'll see more soon. Trans stories are no less (or more) important than any other story. The younger generation is all over this shit (and it is shit, total bullshit). The line is blurring, and it's a slippery slope, thank goodness.
You've been involved in Toronto theatre on and off for several years. Any words of advice for young writers who want their voices to be heard?
First, make sure you are working with people you trust, people who want to help you shine your light, not dim it. You're a sensitive artist, and you're prone to getting your heart broken, so choose your artistic relationships wisely. - MORE wisely than you choose your lovers (you'll get over those heartaches). Then, don't compromise. Don't limit your dreams to what is "possible". Colour outside the lines. Believe it. You can be the change.
You use humour in your writing to deal with issues/struggles that LGBTQ individuals face in their daily lives. Is it enough to just laugh at Donald Trump's antics for the next four years or should we take his ambivalence towards our community seriously?
No one is laughing! That being said, the jokes are writing themselves. Remember Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator"? Humour, historically speaking, has had as much influence on social evolution as any staid philosophy or academic postulating. At least we HAVE a sense of humour! Ever notice how humourless the right-wing nutters are? I think the closest thing to a joke they've ever told was that "trickle-down economics" gag, which wasn't funny in the least. We also have better parties. Laughter engages people. It's not a way to "lighten" the seriousness of what's happening, it's a way to engage people, and indeed to encourage them to act. There will be laughter and dancing at the revolution, and I for one can't wait!
M/F (Choose One) by Sonny Mills appears at the 38th Rhubarb Festival from February 22 to 26. Tickets and info at buddiesinbadtimes.com