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Rhubarb Profile: Icarus Speaks

David introduces his show - at Rhubarb in this final week.

Can you introduce yourself and your piece?

My name is David Tomlinson, a Toronto based (for now...), writer/actor.
This is my fourth Rhubarb! festival (what can I say? It's an addiction...), and my first solo show for the festival.

The show is called Sunstroke: Icarus Speaks, and is a re-telling of the Icarus myth. It's directed by Diana Kolpak.

Who would you say is your ideal audience?

Good question...uh...anyone who likes a good story. Mythology buffs (no purists though thanks...I've taken a few liberties).

It's an unusual piece, it (hopefully) says some compelling things about fathers and sons and the patriarchal bloodline...but not in an obtuse way or a way that makes it inaccessible for audiences.

I never write for anyone in particular, I always write what moves me and hope people get something out of it. I tend to write about very universal themes...you may or may not be familiar with the wrapping paper, but you'll understand the package in a second.

Anyone could come see the show and get something out of it.

What inspired/motivated you to create the play?

It was something I was moved to write. The Icarus myth always kind of pissed me off...Daddy Deadalus tells Icarus not to do something, but Icarus does it anyway and gets punished? Was it a simple case of hubris? Is the son never allowed to eclipse the father?

It's a very dangerous story to hand down to boys...but we've held onto it for hundreds of years. I always figured there was something more going on behind the scenes, that things weren't so cut and dry...and as the material started coming, all the things I started to discover made so much more sense.

How long have you been working on it?

It first emerged as some stream of consciousness writing about two years ago...then it took some time, trying to figure out what it wanted to be...I think we're (the show and I), both very happy with the way things worked out.

Tell me about the process of writing/performing about the piece?

Well...it's a very male show, so I had to pack away all my Tori Amos cds while I worked on it! I found some great arena rockers from England called Longview who really fueled some writing...they rock. The piece is a fusion of straight theatre and Pochinko clown, so I've taken an unusual approach to developing the play.

Diana (the director), has been very involved in the development of the work, so that has certainly given her an immediacy to the material. The performance will also reflect a clown sensibility, though there is no white face, and no red nose.

In terms of material...relationships between fathers and sons and men in general is compelling to me...every son has an interesting choice; to perpetuate the damage of his father or heal it.

What makes Rhubarb a good venue choice for you?

I love Buddies. I love the people. I love the festival. It's a home for me, and what better place to do a show than in my living room?

It's also a great way to test drive ideas, and see if the concept works, and if there is something more there. I always have a blast when I do the festival...and it's a thrilling atmosphere to be around...so many great shows to see.

What's next?

Finding a producer for my television series! I have been working on it for a year, and it's ready for the money men. I am currently in the Buddies Antechamber Playwrights Unit, working on a new full-length piece called Near To Where You Are with Lex Vaughn.

Writing a few screenplays. If the show is a success at Rhubarb!, there are certainly ways we can expand it and develop it into a longer piece...our vision of the extended show is quite intricate, and would love to do it. Other than that...who knows?


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