Blood Pact Theatre with support from Storefront Theatre, and in association with Factory Theatre presents the world premiere of After Wrestling — opening March 1, 2018. After Wrestling revolves around Hogan and his sister Leah. Together they navigate old flames, new relationships, and their mental health in a booze- and grief-fuelled debate after the suicide of Hogan’s best friend Gibby. Playwright Charlie Kerr — with writing partner Bryce Hodgson‘s blessing — shared some insights about the play with yours truly.
HM: Dark comedy… what is it about this type of work that interests you both?
Charlie Kerr (CK): I think it’s always been my favorite genre and the one that I am drawn to most because it is the one that is most aligned with my worldview. The world is a terrifying, dark, horribly unfair and unforgiving place but at the same time it’s also beautiful and hilarious.
HM: Where did the idea for After Wrestling come about?
CK: Bryce and I had a close friend who died by suicide and it shaped our lives in many ways. And one day Bryce told me he had a concept for a play that revolved around two characters, a young man named Hogan, who had his best friend die by suicide, and Hogan’s sister, Leah, who is forced to take care of her grieving, whacky brother. And from there, it has evolved and changed and grew over the three years that we were steadily writing it.
HM: After Wrestling is described as a “slacker comedy turned suicide-mystery.” Is this how you both envisioned the story would evolve from your original concept?
CK: I think I can speak for both of us when I say we truly had no idea where this thing was going when we first started writing it. Also I always have absolutely no idea how people are going to package or summarize our work, let alone, what they are going to take from it. I’m just too close to the material, particularly with this show. So when I heard that people were describing it in that way, I thought that was pretty damn cool, as I am a big fan of both slacker comedies, mysteries and genre mixing. But yeah, definitely not what we initially envisioned. The original concept included a lot more dynamite. The dynamite ended up on the cutting room floor.
HM: The play addresses some universal and important themes: love, loss, mental health, among others. How do you delicately use dark comedy to push boundaries while addressing some heavy topics in your work?
CK: I think for Bryce and I, with anything like this, it comes down to being well-researched and writing from a place of love, curiosity, and compassion. And for me, I drew a lot on my own honest experiences with my own mental health issues. And the humor just more or less just kind of fell into place.
HM: After your success with Kill Your Parents in Viking, Alberta, for its “sharp dialogue and rich subtext,” what can audiences look forward to in After Wrestling?
CK: Some laughs, some wackiness, some sad parts, some existentialism, a good amount of swearing and some unnecessary pop culture references that will probably go over peoples’ heads. Thank you so much for this interview. This whole experience has been really cool and informative and dream-like and we are really grateful for it. Toronto’s theater community continues to be amazing to us. Lots of love and here’s hoping we see you in the audience!
Theatre that addresses some very difficult themes with strong storytelling… just a few reasons not to miss After Wrestling. I echo Charlie’s last comment as well; I hope to see many of you in the audience also!
Written by Bryce Hodgson and Charlie Kerr
Directed by Bryce Hodgson
March 1 – 18, 2018
Factory Studio Theatre
Tickets: $30-$50; avail online or by calling 416-504-9971