Umbrella Talk with playwright Bobby Del Rio

In this week's Umbrella Talk, Bobby Del Rio talks about why audiences are dwindling, his favourite directors, and how he plans on making his mark.

A little more about Bobby Del Rio

Bobby Del Rio has written: Porn Life (named one of 2007's best shows by Fab Magazine's 3-time Emmy nominee Paul Bellini), Christian Values (#3 selling hit of 2001 Toronto Fringe Festival/NOW Magazine cover story), When Children Fall (named one of 2000's "best Fringe/SummerWorks shows" by Eye Weekly), Half-Chinx Taking Over the World (published in Spring 2002 issue of Canadian Theatre Review/broadcast on CBC Radio), Professionally Ethnic (published in Summer 2009 issue of Canadian Theatre Review), and Child Hood (SummerWorks 2005). He was the sole subject of a 30-minute documentary that aired nationally on Bravo!, beat playwrights all across North America to receive a prestigious writing showcase in New York City, is the inaugural recipient of the Robertson Davies Playwriting Award and is currently developing feature film scripts with established film producers. His latest play is entitled The Market. Please check out!!

What do you drink on opening night?

Protein shake. I'm not much of a drinker. I'm a health guy.

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
I'll pick 3.

1. Ross Manson. He directed a reading of my play Professionally Ethnic. He was awesome to work with, and I'd work with him on anything.

2. Chris Abraham. I find him to be the most inventive theatre director working in Toronto.

3. Daniel Brooks. His raw intellect and perpetually creative spirit are inspiring.

What scares you? What can't you write about?
I'm not scared of anything. I tend to write about the things that other people won't.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
I would've said the stock market a few weeks ago. But I just wrote a new play called The Market. So scratch that. I want to write about Native genocide, and I've wanted to incorporate mathematics into a play for awhile now. I was a big math guy before I wanted to be an actor, so I'd love to utilize that skill set... I also want to start writing novels.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)
Part farce, part political thriller, part teen drama, part existentialist, and part intellectual masturbation. Definitely not a musical.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I like praise and hate criticism. But I'm well aware that they both essentially mean nothing. I just do the best I can. Inevitably, the audience tells you everything you need to know...

Where would you like your work to be produced?

A couple years ago I would've listed some of the most established theatres in the country. But now I want to work with exciting artists who 'get' the work I'm trying to do. We've been producing far too much mediocrity in this country for far too long, and that's part of the reason audiences have dried up. Try getting someone outside the theatre community to attend your play. It rarely happens. If we get over our fictitious egos and start focusing on telling the best stories to a wide audience, they will come...

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?


What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
I'd like them to say that I revolutionized the way multiculturalism was conceived in Canada, that I changed the definition of normalcy, that I created innovative work that brought people under 35 back to the theatre, that I displayed a range of content with unparallelled contrasts, that I turned being a Canadian playwright into a badge of honour as opposed to an apology, that I was the first playwright in decades to start riots, and that I found a way to make money doing it. ;)

What inspires you?
The potential humanity has to use our collective brilliance to save lives instead of sell people useless shit all the time.