Best of Fall 2012: Michael Healey on mounting his controversial play Proud

Best of Fall 2012: Michael Healey on mounting his controversial play Proud

Playwright Michael Healey mounts his own production of Proud, the savage political satire that sparked a storm in the city’s theatre world

Best of Fall 2012:  Michael Healy

With Proud, you found yourself at odds with the Tarragon Theatre, where you were playwright-in-residence. They refused to put it on due to concerns about potential libel, so you resigned. Do you miss being there?
The Tarragon was a great home for me. And it’s extremely chilly out here. For a dozen years I would write a play and nobody would tell me what kind of a play I should be writing, and when I was done, I could hand it over and reasonably expect somebody to put it on. That position is completely unique in Canadian theatre. I do miss it.

You’ve decided to take on the role of the Stephen Harper–like prime minister in Proud. You previously played George W. Bush. You seem to be into power.
I really am. You can ask my wife and two-year-old twins how I wield power around our house—and how they completely disregard me.

Have you ever considered public office? You wouldn’t be the first writer or actor to try.
I think I’m of more use where I am. Public office is all about creating consensus and getting things done. Theatre is all about creating conflict and getting fake things done.

Do you think Harper will ever see the show?
We invited him to the opening night and got a very nice email back saying he was too busy to attend. We let him know that the play would be on for two weeks, and that he was welcome any time.

A lot of artists can’t stand Harper. What’s your take on the PM?
I understand why a lot of people are boiling with rage about every action Harper takes, but he has done a better job of articulating an idea of the country than anybody else. People who disagree with him had better create a vision of their own to counter his.

Sept. 20 to Oct. 6. Berkeley street
Theatre Upstairs

(Illustration: Adam Cruft)