Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually. Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken… – Charles Baudelaire
Confessional. Absurd. Poignant. Hilariously irreverent. Bartender Seamus is our host at the Empty Glass pub, and Reid weaves his way through several denizens of the tired old place. Reid is a master of character, dialect and storytelling – and for those of you who haven’t yet met Rory MacFadden, you’re in for a— Well, you’re in for it. I had the pleasure of interviewing both Reid and MacFadden for the blog last year.
This was my third time seeing Be Always Drunken; I’d seen Reid perform the show in 2012 and 2013 at The Fox & Fiddle Wellesley – and I see something new every time. A nuance, an inflection, a gesture – and there’s a lovely bit at the end that shifts into improv. There’s not really much more I can say – check out the links to my previous posts on the show.
The sublime and the ridiculous meet the divine and profane in Teige Reid’s Be Always Drunken (In Vino Veritas). Keep your eyes peeled for the next performance at a pub near you.
In the meantime, check out this Rory rant – this is included in the show – and check out Reid’s YouTube channel while you’re at it:
Teige Reid is a Toronto-based actor, writer and comedic performer. Also the driving force behind Pubcrawl Theatre, Reid has performed his one-man show Be Always Drunken: In Vino Veritas as a site-specific piece in a pub, with each show featuring a music or comedy guest. It’s during a performance of Be Always Drunken: In Vino Veritas that the audience meets Rory MacFadden, professional hypocrite and self-described practitioner of transcendental intoxication. Reid has started posting Rory MacFadden videos on YouTube, featuring words of wisdom on everything from drinking, religion and politics to urban development. I interviewed Reid and MacFadden via email – and here’s what we chatted about [WARNING: The following interview contains coarse language]:
LWMC: When and how did the two of you come to meet?
TEIGE: I was doing a one-man show a few years ago and Rory just happened to be in the bar one night.
RORY: He was shite.
TEIGE: The show was a mix of character monologues and improv.
RORY: Fuckin’ awful it was.
TEIGE: Actually – it was going quite well,
RORY: Like arse it was, I was bored fuckless.
TEIGE: About 20 minutes in, Rory stumbled up on stage and started ranting at the audience.
RORY: I just reminded them about all the other, better, things that they could be doing wi’ their night instead o’listenin’ to this fuck head.
TEIGE: I tried to get him to sit back down or just leave, but he was pretty drunk –
RORY: – Shattered.
TEIGE: – and I didn’t want any trouble.
TEIGE: So I apologized to the audience, sat down myself, and let him go. I thought he’d rant on for a few minutes and then leave.
RORY: Fuck tha’.
TEIGE: He did an hour and 20 minutes.
RORY: I killed.
TEIGE: Yes…he did. Though, it couldn’t really be characterized as a performance, as such.
RORY: It was a public fuckin’ service is wha’ it was. I saved those people’s night.
TEIGE: After that he just kept showing up and interrupting my shows. I couldn’t get him to stop, so I hired him. He does about 10 minutes a night now.
RORY: Highlight o’the night, baby. HIGH-FUCKIN’-LIGHT.
TEIGE: But I only pay him if he behaves.
LWMC: Rory, you were born in Glasgow, and grew up as an orphan, raised by nuns. How did that impact on your general outlook of the world?
RORY: Most o’the nuns wanted nothin’ to do wi’ me, so I was raised by one nun in particular – Sister Teresa Intoxicata.
TEIGE: She was a bit of an outcast herself.
RORY: Fuck you, she were a wonderful woman.
TEIGE: I didn’t say she wasn’t. I was just saying that the two of you had a special connection.
RORY: Aye we did. She was great, she’d taken a vow of alcoholism – she could out drink, out curse and out fight any man she came across.
TEIGE: Not your average nun.
RORY: She wasn’t good at rememberin’ my birthday or gettin’ me Christmas presents and shite like that, but she taught me to trust myself and fuck the consequences. Bein’ an orphan sucked, sometimes, but she made not havin’ a family seem okay: Rory, you’re a lucky boy, you are totally autonomous. You don’t need a family – families never leave you alone, they’re always hovering about, judging you and trying to get their hands on your money. When you get right down to it, a family is just a government you can’t overthrow – fuck ‘em, you are better off wi’out one. She really hated the government, never trusted anyone but herself and taught me to question everythin’. She used to tear up newspapers at the shops screamin’: You can’t buy the truth for 25p! Och, she was the best. I miss her somethin’ terrible, and every time I drink, I think of her. Maybe I drink so much just so she’ll never be far from my thoughts.
TEIGE: You never told me that.
RORY: You never asked. Prick.
LWMC: And are you a full-on expat now, or are you splitting your time between Glasgow and Toronto these days?
RORY: I haven’t been home in years.
TEIGE: Technically speaking, Rory didn’t actually immigrate to Canada.
RORY: I fell asleep one night, about 12 years ago, in a crate in a warehouse, and ended up here along wi’ a shipment of fridges. I guess you could say I immi-crated.
TEIGE: So he actually can’t leave the country.
RORY: No Passport, no social insurance number, no, none o’that crap – I don’t exist here – which is great ‘cos I can’t get arrested or anythin’.
TEIGE: I keep telling you – that’s not true.
RORY: I beg to differ.
LWMC: Tell us about the genesis of Rory’s YouTube videos.
TEIGE: Well, like I said, he does 10 minutes in every show, but –
RORY: – It’s nowhere near enough.
TEIGE: LIKE. I. SAID. He does 10 minutes in every show, but for the last year or so, I’ve only been doing a few shows every few months.
RORY: And that sucks donkeys.
TEIGE: Rory, I’m sorry. But I’m busy. I have other things on my plate. I have a job. You do nothing. NOTHING. Even when it comes to the shows you don’t do anything. You won’t even rehearse, you just show up.
RORY: That’s all you pay me for, isn’t it?
TEIGE: Fine. So a few months ago, Rory said to me
RORY: Listen shithead, I’m not sittin’ around waiting for you anymore, give me your fuckin’ iPhone.
TEIGE: I wasn’t going to quote you verbatim but…yes…he took my iPhone and started shooting videos of himself.
RORY: And that’s that.
LWMC: Do you have any plans to turn the videos into a live stage show?
TEIGE: Well, I suppose anything’s possible.
LWMC: Teige, you’ve had good success with your pub show Be Always Drunken: In Vino Veritas, which Rory appears in. What words of advice would you have for Rory if he decides to do his own live solo show?
TEIGE: The one thing I would stress to him is to rehearse.
RORY: Fuck tha’, that’ll make it too much like work.
TEIGE: It is work.
RORY: See that right there, that’s your problem. You want everythin’ perfect. It doesn’t have to be. Just get up and do it, and let wha’ ever happens happen.
LWMC: Rory, do you have any advice for Toronto’s mayoral candidates as they head into the final stretch of the election campaign?
RORY: All I can say is whoever wins better make my sufferin’ through this endless-bullshit-campaign fuckin’ worth it. It doesn’t take this long to elect a Pope, for fuck sake’s. Want my advice? Get it over wi’ and get back to work you c*nts!
TEIGE: That’s great Rory, a really lovely sentiment, well done.
RORY: Bite me. Life’s too short to have my time wasted like this. I’ll tell ya wha’, I’ll support whichever candidate promises to impose a standardized floor plan for grocery stores.
RORY: I’m fed up lookin’ for pancake mix.
LWMC: Anything coming up that either of you want to shout out?
TEIGE: I’m currently booking performances of Be Always Drunken: In Vino Veritas for October, November, and December, mostly out of the city, but I’ll be sure to let you know once all the dates and locations are nailed down.
RORY: And keep an eye out for my show, Rory MacFadden: Being and Drunkeness.
RORY: Seriously. Which reminds me – I need you to make a few phone calls for me.
LWMC: Anything else you’d like to share?
RORY: I suppose I should have mentioned this before – but I don’t do interviews, the immigration thing, you know. I hope that’s not gonna be a problem.
LWMC: Thanks, guys. Looking forward to seeing you both on stage again soon.
Just in case you missed the “one-man” show reference at the beginning, Rory MacFadden is a character, created and performed by Teige Reid.
An actor pounding back vodka shots can’t bring himself to play the jolly old man in red in the Santa Clause parade. An elderly man sipping white wine has lost his wife, but not in the way you’d think. A drunken, foul-mouthed and hilariously funny Scotsman named Rory loses his bottle of Keith’s, threatening mayhem till he finds it. And a charming, but oily Southern gentleman sips a cocktail, his apparently delicate sensibilities masking a raging hunger. A gay lawyer sipping whiskey opens up about his relationship with his father, who is bitterly disappointed in him – but not for the reason you’d expect. All woven together by Irish bartender Seamus, who worships at the altar of Guinness and has his own pain to manage, and bookends the piece with snippets of Baudelaire’s “Be Drunken.” Welcome to the Empty Glass, the divey bar playing host to the evening’s revelries and tales of woe that comprise In Vino Veritas. And all characters we see are created and performed by actor/playwright Teige Reid. It’s moving, darkly funny and irreverently philosophical – and just when you think the show is going in one direction, there’s a surprise. No game of “What’s in the Wellie” this time – but an equally fun turn unfolded. And all the while, the audience may order food and drink. The only rule: keep our cell phones off.
And since this is a Pubcrawl Theatre production, that’s not all. The evening opened with an acoustic set from guest artist Julian Sark, who I was able to get my ears on from just outside the room (we were in the second floor space of the pub). I working the box office and had just come up from ushering folks upstairs from the main floor pub entrance. Sark described his set as full of wordy, fast songs. For his last song, he conducted an audience poll: slow and depressing, or upbeat and fast? Formerly with the band flickershow, Julian’s been playing solo these days – and he opened for In Vino Veritas in the same space when I saw the show back in March, so it was a treat to hear him play again. Lyrical, eclectic pop with an equally varied cast of characters and, of course, a romance or two.
You know how you can say or feel stuff while under the influence of alcohol – sometimes even in the presence of total strangers – that you may not normally? Do you like poignant, insightful humour that holds up a mirror to humanity’s foibles, perhaps including a quote or two from some of our notable bards? Have I got the show for you!
And here’s what the audience is saying about In Vino Veritas:
“Sharp writing with depth, married with solid, engaging character work made for a polished, well-paced and consistently funny show.” J.Orchard, Toronto
“The energy and conviction with which Teige portrays such a diverse group of characters is nothing short of phenomenal. Positively riveting!” Robert Dungan, Toronto
“A real ‘tour de force’ – Teige’s show has everything from absolute hilarity to pathos – it’s like 10 shows in one. I loved it and would highly recommend it.” Bernie Sherlock, Dublin
“Teige has a wide emotional range that easily draws you into the world of his characters. He stirs up loads of laughter interspersed with moments of serious contemplation. Strong writing and seamless execution definitely make this a show worth seeing.” Allan C., Toronto
“If you want to chase away the ‘January Blues,’ you can’t do better than go to Teige Reid’s really witty and hilarious show.” Margaret, Toronto
“Teige conjures up an amazing array of colourful characters and wonderfully witty – and ridiculous – stories to great comic effect! He’s a master at engaging the audience and mining humour from unlikely places. It’s not easy to come up with surprising punch lines – but Teige does, making for a really great evening out.” Andrea Romaldi
“The show is hilarious, and it doesn’t need alcohol!” Anneli P.
“In Vino Veritas is a comic and tragic look at the barflies who inhabit every drinking establishment. In the back room of a real bar, you’ll see characters tell their stories, fight a losing battle against the past, reveal eternal truths, and down a few rounds.” Bob from Oshawa
“It’s one thing to be very funny, and another to have a deep and sympathetic understanding of people. Both gifts are amply present in Teige Reid, and they make for a winning combination.” Paul Truster, Toronto