At the beginning of this year I didn’t exactly do the resolution thing, but I definitely set a few intentions, or goals for the year. They mostly revolved around challenging myself creatively, and exploring portrait work outside of my own little norm. When you set goals at the beginning of the year, it really makes you notice how fast March rolls around (!!)
Anyhoo. One of the intentions I set was to actually work on a little project I’d been joggling around in the ol’ brain for a while. I have not yet come up with a name for this project (suggestions are welcome!) but here’s the gist: I have always maintained that the most important thing to me in life is meaningful connection with interesting, intelligent and inspiring human beings. I’ve often been teased that my main hobby is coffee-drinking, which, when you live amongst all sorts of extreme-sports-loving people, seems kinda lame. But I will own it. I love coffee dates a LOT. And not just because of the coffee (even though it’s up there with my favourite things on the planet.) I love coffee dates because of the amazing, engaging, inspiring conversations that often go along with the americanos or lattes. I can’t think of much else I would rather do on a given day than to sit down with someone and hash it all out. They have a french saying, I think: “remaking the world”. I live for that shit.
Back to my project, though. I thought it would be interesting, in our age of on-line social networking, to follow a chain of true, personal connection. To create a portrait of someone in my life, to have them answer just a couple of questions about themselves, and then to see who they would choose to be photographed and interviewed next, and what they would have me ask. I couldn’t think of anyone more perfect to start this project with than one of my dearest and oldest friends. So let’s do this.
Matthew MacKenzie | The Playwright
Alexis: When did you decide you wanted to be a playwright?
Matt: Working as a house painter, I had a dear friend sit me down one day and explain that the girls I was trying to date were way out of my league. His advice was to either get more realistic, or get into the Arts. Since I didn’t play an instrument or have a screaming desire to make an ass of myself on stage, I settled on playwriting.
Alexis: Tell me a bit about the project you’re working on that you’re most excited about at the moment?
Matt: I’m writing a weird cabaret piece called Bears with my good friend Bryce Kulak. It’s about a guy who walks out of Edmonton one day headed for the Rockies, and as he goes he turns into a Grizzly. Bryce and I are both kind of bear like, and we’ve been wanting to create something strange together since we were twelve, so we’re pretty psyched about Bears.
Alexis: What are your goals for 2014?
Matt: To destroy my enemies.
Alexis: Do you remember when we met?
Matt: High-school. Bryce and I both slept through our first introductory coffee date, and were reamed out pretty badly by Carly. Our friendship was born in fire–my girlfriend at the time took a dislike to you, based solely on the fact you also had red hair if I correctly recall, and would bark at you in the halls.
Alexis: Yeah. I remember that. I remember thinking, “Someone just barked at me in the hall. I’ve arrived. I’m in Arts School! (starry eyes+reverent tones)”
Alexis: Who would you have me photograph next, and why?
Matt: My dad’s mom, Nikki MacKenzie. She’s wildly interesting.
Matthew MacKenzie is one of Canada’s most promising emerging playwrights. He’s currently the Writer in Residence at Downstage Theatre in Calgary, AB. His work has been produced across the country, and further abroad, from New York City to Monrovia, Liberia. He’s a bright soul, an impressive coffee date, a huge inspiration, and the most loyal friend one could wish for. He’s good for a few laughs, too.