Here we are at the end of the 2022-23 Fringe Theatre Season – and what a season it’s been! We are pleased to welcome the final show of our season, Boy Trouble. Sly Fringing sleuths might recognize the name from our 2019 Festival, but you’re in for a surprise. Creator Mac Brock has been tweaking and working his magic to create what is now an ENTIRELY NEW production based on the characters from the original.
Kay and Anthony have been friends for a long time. Or, like, they grew up together, anyway. They keep each other’s secrets well as two of the only gay kids in town. But tonight, a new secret has their years of tiptoe crossed lines and almosts-but-maybe-nots busting at the seams.
Set over six years of their friendship between 2009-2015, Boy Trouble’s story takes place before the mainstream success of TikTok, Drag Race, and many more new platforms that have destigmatized queerness for youth. As more protests and bills develop across North America to censor queer media (and in extreme cases ban forms of queer art like drag), Boy Trouble looks back on the ways gay youth put themselves in harm’s way when they saw less of themselves reflected in the world.
Q&A With Mac BrockWe sat down with Mac Brock to discuss Boy Trouble, read below to learn more about this incredible new work.
Why are you telling this story now?
Mac Brock (MB): In 2019, when we first premiered the show, we weren’t super specific about the “when” — it was just, like, present day. But the years since then have made us reflect a lot more on when the story could happen. We landed on the years 2009-2015 for a few reasons. By that time, gay marriage was legal close to everywhere in North America, a handful of queer stories were making their way into mainstream TV, and more blatant homophobia was generally falling out of fashion. (Remember the whole FCKH8 thing? 2010 was a weird time.)
Since 2015, we’ve had an explosion of new stories. Drag Race is one of the most popular shows on television and shows like Sex Education, Heartbreak High, and Euphoria put Gen-Z queer relationships in the spotlight. However, we’ve also had a massive increase in campaigns and protests against queer art and trans/non-binary gender expression. These types of regression start slow, but the language is clear: groups are actively working to put queer sexuality – particularly as it relates to our young people – back into the dark corners it had been forced for decades to hide in.
Boy Trouble is set just before kids Kay and Anthony’s age would have this newfound access to a massive wave of representation. If we don’t fight to keep these conversations front and centre, we risk going back to that same time they’re struggling in.
How did this story come to be?
MB: Boy Trouble started as a conversation between me and a few queer friends about the ways we didn’t feel seen by this new generation of gay media. Max Hanic and I dreamt up the first version of the show in 2018, which featured like seven actors and was a real mess. Then, with the help of dramaturg David van Belle, we refined the show into a solo piece that premiered at NextFest 2019 directed by Niuboi. It then got a few tweaks before a run at the 2019 Fringe Festival (my first time at the Fringe as anything but a Patron!).
Afterwards, we didn’t feel like it was totally done. We’d seen one side of Kay’s story, but we were missing the other half. With the help of absolutely incredible dramaturg Elena Belyea, and after maybe thirty new drafts, we built a brand-new piece exploring two childhood friends as their self-discoveries shift, fracture, and test their relationship as they grow up together.
We gathered a super talented team of local queer, trans, and non-binary artists (including super-talented young performer Romar Dungo who’ll be joining Max on stage!) who brought so many of their experiences of queerness’ intersection with class, family, race, language, and so much more. They widened and filled the show’s world, and now we get to share that work!
What do you hope your audience takes away?
MB: Queer stories have come a long way into the spotlight, with a lot of beautiful and positive examples of young people coming out with a whirlwind first romance (think Heartstopper, Love Simon). There’s a lot of conversation around wanting to prioritize stories about queer joy, full of shiny first experiences and acceptance. And don’t get me wrong, those stories are vital, they’re building gorgeous new bridges for the next generation of queer and trans kids. However, mine and most of my peers’ journeys weren’t quite so clean. We had big mistakes and big messes and big feelings of total isolation; a lot of feelings that we wouldn’t have gone through if we knew each other were going through similar experiences.
If you could go back to your younger self, what advice would you give?
MB: This is the part where I tell my parents, if they’re reading this, that the show isn’t a true story(!!!) Okay, that’s out of the way. Growing up queer on the prairies is hard. It’s isolating! Our opportunities to find each other are so limited, so we wind up trying to figure it all out on our own. And I get it, my nickname as a kid was “Dewey” because whenever someone tried to help me, I would say “I do it!” If I could, I’d tell little Mac that he isn’t better off alone. When we try to put the things we’re ashamed of in the dark, we don’t get rid of them, we just make ourselves smaller for the benefit of people who don’t care about us at all.
Boy Trouble (May 16-27)
Created by an entirely queer/trans/non-binary team of Edmonton artists, the new production of Boy Trouble is a fast-paced, physical, and playful interrogation of toxic masculinity and casual sex in the Grindr age. Presented by Amoris Projects as a part our Fringe Theatre Season, Boy Trouble plays May 16-27 in at Studio Theatre in the Fringe Theatre Arts Barns.
ASL Interpreted Shows: May 17, 18, & 23
Relaxed Performances: May 17 & 23
Our Season shows include a minimum of two ASL Interpreted Shows and two Relaxed Performances. Offer What You Will tickets are available for every performance. Learn more about Offer What You Will and Relaxed Performances by clicking the links below.
Offer What You Will ProgramRelaxed Performances