Blood On the Ice, Honey In the Tea Room: A Chat with Kevin Kincaid

hockey mom hockey dad heather rankin kevin kincaid

heather rankin & kevin kincaid photo by timothy richard

Tomorrow, October 17th, Michael Melski’s play Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad (1995) opens at the Neptune Scotiabank Studio Theatre in Halifax. Set against the backdrop of Pewee Hockey, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad tells the story of Teddy (Kevin Kincaid) and Donna (Heather Rankin), two lonely single parents, who meet one another in the bleachers. Kevin Kincaid and I sat down at the World Tea House on Wednesday and literally drank pure honey from straws while having the following chat about the show:  

Amanda Campbell (AC): Can you tell me a little about where you’re from and how you got into acting?

Kevin Kincaid (KK): I’m from Lunenburg, originally, just about ten minutes outside Lunenburg- a place called Front Centre.

AC: Great; and all the people there are coming to the show!

KK: I just talked to the Bridgewater Bulletin today so, let’s hope! My dad’s been putting the banner up around, letting people know.

AC: And I heard that your dad was a Phys-Ed teacher. My mother was also a Phys-Ed teacher! Well, she was before I was born.

KK: Whaa? No way!

AC: Yeah! So, I’m always interested in how the children of sporty people first get interested in theatre.

KK: When I was five and six I was in plays in elementary school. I did a lot of singing as well. I was a Soprano voice.

AC: Really!? You and Heather should do a duet!!

KK: Well, I don’t think NOW. *laughter* My voice has changed since then. I was really encouraged by my parents to do a lot of different stuff when I was a kid. But when I got into Junior High and High School the things that I was most interested in were all sports. My dad told me to go travel before I went to University and then it was at Dalhousie University where I first took an Acting class and that’s where theatre all started. Suddenly, all the stuff that I had been learning when I was travelling, the self-help books I’d been reading on how to be more aware and more compassionate, even the sort of Taoist stuff that I had been thinking about, was all feeding into this class. And I wanted to do more. So, I auditioned for the Acting Program, and they accepted me, but I wanted to go travel for another year. So, I took off and traveled all the way across Canada because I wanted to see all of Canada before I went back to school. I knew that once I started in the theatre program it was ON and my career was going to be Go, Go, Go. So, I started in BC- Arctic Circle, Dawson City… all the way down to Nova Scotia- a three month camping trip. So, the next year I auditioned again and got in and that’s when it all started. So I got my Honours Degree in Theatre at Dalhousie and then I flew down to New York. We were in rehearsals for our last show of the year. I flew down on a Friday, auditioned Saturday, got back in Halifax that night for rehearsal on Sunday. The audition was for RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and they accepted me to their Shakespeare program. So, I did that in 2000 and realized what it was like acting every day in a Conservatory. I got to do King Lear while I was there and I really felt like, “Okay. This is what I should be doing.” That’s how it all began.

AC: How does studying Shakespeare give you a foundation to go on to do other types of theatre?

KK: I made a goal of mine to either do a Shakespeare play, or his contemporaries, or a two person play every second year. And, every second year, man, it happened! I didn’t even have to try for it! I got to do the Woolgatherer by William Mastrosimone and then I did Moliere- it was mask work in Ottawa- the hardest theatre I’ve ever done. I’m glad I did it because everything has been easy ever since. My mom saw the play and didn’t know me for the first twenty minutes because of the costume and the voice. Then I did Oleanna. I did Prospero in The Tempest and then I did Shakespeare by the Sea where I did Julius Caesar, I played Brutus and I played Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night. Those two characters I really feel like kind of represent my personality: Brutus is always trying to do the right thing and, of course, he always ends up doing the wrong thing. But, he feels like he’s doing it for the Greater Good. Then, I’m a little bit like Sir Toby Belch in that I’m a drunken fool and I like to play pranks on people. So, after that Jesse [MacLean] said, “Let’s do Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad” and I did it last summer, and now we’re doing it again. And Neptune was kind of a ten year goal of mine, and this opportunity came knocking and so, here we are.

AC: What’s the most exciting part about making your Neptune debut?

KK: Getting to work with Heather. And Michael. Those two people. It’s really amazing. They’re so nice. Mike knows the play so well and he’s in there so deep and he’s like an older brother, I feel like.

AC: Were you familiar with Melski’s work before you did Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad at Chester Playhouse in 2012?

KK: Of course, yeah.

AC: Were you more familiar with his films or his plays?

KK: Probably his movies more. Back at Dal in 98 and 99 him and Steve Manuel would be talking about what it was like to do a play for a bottle of Coke because they were just buddies and I saw them and was like, “I want to have relationships like that!” I have that in my film world with Charles Wahl, a director that I work with- who I’ve been working with for the past ten years- and Jesse MacLean and I have done three or four projects and are always looking to do more projects. I think I like to work with the same people over and over again. People who I consider buddies and where we’re working towards something bigger than money: there’s a need or a desire that we have.

AC: You want to talk a bit about working with Heather?

KK: She’s fantastic. Heather’s amazing. She’s a very giving person and a lot of fun.

AC: Does she get to be funny in the play? Cause she’s REALLY funny.

KK: Oh my God. I don’t want to spoil it for you. I don’t think she knew how funny her lines were without the audience there to laugh at them. I did the play before so; when we were in rehearsal I was like, “Oh, yeah. You’re hitting the mark.” But then last night at the Pay What You Can was one of those nights where it just came about and all the laughter was there. Yeah. Heather is a really considerate person and I really enjoy working with her. She makes it so easy to do the play, to pretend that we are in this relationship; which can sometimes be hard or awkward. She’s really great to be around, so I feel pretty lucky about that.

AC: I’m so glad to hear that. That’s so nice. So, there’s a parallel drawn in the play between fighting on the ice in hockey and fighting off the ice in real life. We can liken this to the idea of how it is often perceived as not being acceptable to be a bully, yet we see in the NHL that it can be advantageous to exhibit bully-like behavior while playing hockey. So, Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad does present the question: how does this paradox work for our society and especially for our children?

KK: It’s very interesting.

AC: When you were playing hockey as a kid do you remember the fighting aspect of it? From a child’s perspective?

KK: No. The one incident I do remember was my Assistant Coach- just imagine us, little kids just sitting there- and it was just like in the play when my character, Teddy, has an altercation with this guy named Mombourquette- I can still SEE them when I’m doing the play- the Assistant Coach ran around, like in slow motion, and I saw him punch the other guy and them start fighting.

AC: Whoa.

KK: He got banned. He wasn’t allowed to come back. So, the bullying… there is something about sports and an arena and going back to the Ancient Roman period. It’s something Gladiator. It’s feeding a need. It’s bizarre. Why is fighting allowed there but not allowed here? I can’t answer that question. I still haven’t gotten it figured out. I don’t know what to think about it. I’m still mystified by hockey. I mean, it’s a religion. I know that Teddy wants the kids to have confidence and to be able to protect themselves. I can understand that desire from him. I think Teddy has a real code: of all the things, keep your guard up, don’t take crap off of anybody and never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever hit a girl.

AC: Which is interesting because, while admirable to be adamantly against the hitting of women, it also brings up the concept of why is it “okay” to hit men, but not to hit women? That’s still a double standard. Why should we be able to hit anyone, regardless of their gender? Teddy is showing his subtle sexism there.

KK: Yes. That’s what we hope happens out of this play, that people leave thinking about these aspects of the play as well as having a good time.

AC: Yeah. I read in the Herald this morning that they were calling the play a “romantic comedy” and I was thinking, “it’s really NOT a romantic comedy in a traditional sense of that genre. At all. It goes deeper and darker than that.”

KK: It does. It goes to dark places. It has a romantic comedy element, but it goes to dark places.

AC: And the ending is ambiguous.

KK: Oh yeah. Heather made a really good point, if you’re an optimist you’ll think one way and if you’re a pessimist you’ll think another way.

AC: Yeah, but also it depends on how you see Teddy. How flawed is he to you? Is that a deal breaker? It’s so subjective, I think. I read that the play was originally set in Cape Breton, but for this production it’s set in Dartmouth and I think that’s so great because I feel like it’s important for us to recognize that a lot of the issues that are brought up in the play aren’t just “small town” problems- even though some of them may be sometimes stigmatized that way. And the play is not taking place 30 years ago, although it could be. I think you could set Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad 30 or 40 years ago and you probably wouldn’t have to change more than a few words- just the costumes. But, it is a reflection of our contemporary society- in all its flawed glory.

KK: It’s true. It’s crazy that it has this timelessness to it. Canada’s hockey is religion.

AC: I think it’s smart of Melski to tap into that, to bring hockey into the theatre. Often there is this perception that “Jocks” never do anything “artsy” and that “Drama Nerds” never do anything athletic and that people are divided into these binaries definitively. It’s just not true at all. I know so many actors who are hardcore hockey fans, who play a myriad of sports. I know athletes who enjoying going to the theatre. So, I would love to see this play appeal to people who maybe have never thought of going to Neptune before, but who have kids in hockey or who play hockey or who go to the Mooseheads games, because I really think it’s a play that they would really enjoy.

KK: There were lots of kids there last night that looked like they might have been a hockey team. My wife said she overheard them as they were walking out saying they loved it. However you can hook people into theatre- pardon the pun- you gotta do it.

AC: One last question before I let you go, if you and Heather were playing hockey against one another, which one of you would be the first to pull out a punch?

KK: Heather’s really competitive. I’ve played a lot of sports so I think maybe I got it all out of me. So, maybe Heather. *grins* Heather would probably knife me in the side.

AC: She’s small, but she’s mighty.

KK: SHE’S FAST AND MIGHTY.

Fast and Mighty. Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad opens October 17th at Neptune’s Scotiabank Studio Theatre (1593 Argyle Street) and runs until October 27th. Shows are Tuesday to Friday at 7:30pm, Saturdays at 4:00pm and 8:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. Tickets are $20-$38.00. For tickets call 902.429.7070 or visit http://www.neptunetheatre.com or come to the Box Office at 1593 Argyle Street. 

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