‘I revel in the discomfort that this play creates in me.”

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‘I revel in the discomfort that this play creates in me."

So says Myles A. Taylor, the 28-year-old Winnipeg actor who plays the pivotal role of a teenager seeking independence in the Brad Fraser-scripted dark comedy Kill Me Now.

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Winnipeg actor Myles A. Taylor plays the role of Joey Sturdy in the MTC Warehouse production of Kill Me Now. Like Joey, Taylor lives with cerebral palsy.</p>

JASON HALSTEAD / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Winnipeg actor Myles A. Taylor plays the role of Joey Sturdy in the MTC Warehouse production of Kill Me Now. Like Joey, Taylor lives with cerebral palsy.

There are three things to bear in mind.

One: Taylor, like his character Joey Sturdy, lives with cerebral palsy.

Two: Brad Fraser plays are notable for tough and controversial content, a state of affairs that has defined the Edmonton-born playwright since the late 1980s, when he launched Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, a drama that shook the relatively staid realm of Canadian theatre with its frank depiction of homosexuality, kink and murder. It was ultimately named one of the top 10 plays of 1992 by Time magazine.

Three: Taylor is not an acting novice. But most of his experience has come from making films at the University of Winnipeg, where he is wrapping up a bachelor of arts degree in theatre and film. Playing a big role on the theatre stage is a major deal.

His attitude to making a stage debut in a play characterized by rough language, controversial content and nudity can be summed up in three words: Bring it on.

Myles Taylor loves a challenge.

"I’m completely comfortable with the toughness and the R-ratedness of the script," he says.

Playwright Brad Fraser</p></p>

Playwright Brad Fraser

"I don’t like confrontation but I like an obstacle," he says prior to a rehearsal at the Tom Hendry Warehouse Theatre, where the lobby has been transformed into a rehearsal hall because the second-floor rehearsal space is inaccessible to his wheelchair.

"I like it when someone says no to me," Taylor says. "Because I can just be like: ‘Screw you, I’m going to do it anyway.’

"There’s a certain part of me that enjoys the potential of their discomfort when they realize that they were wrong about my ability to do the thing they said I couldn’t do."

While Taylor is a decade older than his character, he could relate to him, even if his character’s physical challenges are more extreme than his own.

"I was Joey at 17," he says, acknowledging that he deferred his own bid for independence.

"I realized I wasn’t ready to move out and it would be foolish of me to move out."

He did leave his Winnipeg hometown to move to Alberta when his dad got a new job. After six years there, he opted to move back to Winnipeg and live on his own at the age of 24.

"I wanted to get back to Winnipeg because all my friends are here, and most of my family was here. It was home. And I knew I wanted to go to film school."

Of course, the role departs from Taylor’s own experience, but that too presents a challenge Taylor welcomes.

"My physical needs are a lot less severe than his are. He’s got a lot of mobility issues and a quite heavy speech impediment," he says of Joey Sturdy. "And as a result of his disability, he sexually matured late because he’s on testosterone. As we start the play, it’s starting to kick in and as a result, everything sort of goes off the rails. And that’s when the fun starts."

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Playwright Brad Fraser says, in a way, his play Kill Me Now took him out of his own comfort zone, too.

"It’s a departure in that there isn’t a single gay character in the entire play and I don’t think I’ve ever written that particular kind of play before," he says on the phone from his home in Toronto.

Fraser says he doesn’t feel the need to represent those in the sexual minority the way he was compelled earlier in his career in works such as Poor Super Man (later made into the film Leaving Metropolis) and the TV series Queer As Folk.

"It was always a political thing to have gay, bi, lesbian and trans characters in my plays because they didn’t get represented as much as everybody else did in the 1990s and the early 2000s," he says. "But in the last 10 years, there’s been a lot of opening up to representations, not just of gay people but trans people and asexual people as characters.

"So on one hand, it kind of let me off the hook politically to have to represent the under-represented," he says. "When you grow up a minoritarian figure in a majority, in the same way queer or gay people do, there are a lot of questions when you sit down to do something like this.

"One that I ask myself is: Who is being represented here and who is not generally being represented in the theatre?"

The answer ultimately yielded the tale of the Sturdy family, a single father taking care of a teen son with special needs, an especially challenging way of life when the father himself succumbs to a paralyzing illness.

"Disability is a big part of this play although it’s not a play about disability," Fraser says, adding it was largely inspired by his own family and his own experience with a medical crisis.

"I have a very diverse, odd and not necessarily attractive family in which a great many people are represented, including people of colour, including Asian people, or people of native blood as my great-grandmother was," he says. "Some people had different kinds of disabilities. I myself had spinal stenosis for five years and I was practically a shut-in cripple.

"The intersection of all those things and the experience of them came to this play," he says.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King
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In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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