OUTStages Festival at Intrepid Theatre: An interview with playwright Dave Deveau (My Funny Valentine)

OUTStages Festival at Intrepid Theatre: An interview with playwright Dave Deveau (My Funny Valentine).

Intrepid Theatre present’s Victoria’s inaugural queer theatre festival July 5 – 12, 2015 in Victoria BC.  As part of the outreach activities, there will be two play readings at the Intrepid Theatre Club July 7th–The Bad Touch by local playwright Kat Taddei, and My Funny Valentine by Dave Deveau of ZeeZee Theatre (Vancouver).

OUTstages Play Readings 2015

I had the opportunity to chat with Deveau about his work.

He grew up in Ontario and became involved in the performing arts at a young age—a chance encounter with a teaching assistant at his school (her mother was a talent agent) led to work in film and TV, including a series.

When most kids were busy drawing, he was constantly writing stories.  As much as he wanted to major in drama at his fine arts high school, it wasn’t possible due to the many absences needed for his TV acting schedule. Deveau found a home in the creative writing department instead.

His parents were always supportive of his acting career and made sure to check in with him often regarding his desire to continue. At the end of high school Deveau made the decision to attend York University rather than sign for a new TV series. He completed his BA and then attended UBC for his MA in playwriting.

Recognized by XTra Magazine in 2013 as one of Vancouver’s brightest young queers in their Top 30 Under 30, Deveau came to the attention of theatre-goers in 2011 with his award-winning play My Funny Valentine, an exploration of events and themes surrounding the murder in 2008 of gay student 15-year-old Lawrence (Larry) King by his classmate Brandon McInerney.

Deveau remembers watching Ellen Degeneres as the news broke.

“I became obsessive about the case and started researching it. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with the material—the case was so complex, there were issues of child abuse, behavioural problems, neo-Nazi ideology—I thought I would never be able to handle it appropriately. I sat on the binder for 7 months, wrote an early draft in 2010 and then worked with a dramaturg to shape the piece.”

“The characters are based on real people, some of whom are only mentioned once in the historical record. I’ve taken the threads of truth and spun them into a play. Larry’s 3rd grade teacher Helen is the only person who appears throughout the piece—she becomes the anchor, someone who becomes haunted by the incident and unable to get on with her life.”

Were you inspired by The Laramie Project (the 2000 play by Moisés Kaufman and the Tetonic Theatre Company about the reaction to the 1998 murder of University of Wyoming gay student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming) in any way?

“I don’t think you can ignore the influence of the Laramie Project. I was nervous, frankly. But, My Funny Valentine is not verbatim theatre. The characters are not named and I’m not, as the playwright, putting words in real people’s mouths.
The system failed both Larry and Brandon. We can only hope for incremental forward movement.”

Ultimately when people walk away—what do you want them to take with them?

“The characters are deeply flawed human beings. I’m trying to be as honest with them as I can, and open up a deeper conversation with the audience. When I first worked with the dramaturg, he asked me what more I had to offer than an account of the murder. Frankly, there are a lot of questions, but not a lot of answers.

My Funny Valentine is murky and uncomfortable but there is also space for joy and laughter. Communally we have permission to think ‘that person has a point’. It’s a three-course-meal rather than a depressing starter.

The reading at OUTStages will be 45 minutes of the full 80-minute original play. I’m honoured to be asked to be part of Victoria’s first queer theatre festival and excited for the possibilities it opens up.”

When I chatted with Deveau, he and his husband Cameron Mackenzie were preparing to present their acclaimed East Van drag show Apocalypstick! at Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre as part of that city’s first Pride.

Play Reading
Tuesday July 7, 8pm

Intrepid Theatre Club -By donation

The Bad Touch by Kat Taddei (Victoria)
Two sets of strangers connect (and don’t connect) over the course of a one-night stand.
My Funny Valentine by Dave Deveau (Vancouver)
This acclaimed plays explores the tragic murder of 15 year-old Lawrence King, who asked his classmate to be his valentine.

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.


  1. […] presented as a reading at the inaugural OUTstages Festival in 2015.  You can read that interview HERE.  I caught up with Dave recently for an […]

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