Emerging playwright aims to turn a break-up into a break-out hit

By Steve Gow

When ‘Til Death Do Us Part finally makes its premiere at the Neptune Theatre on May 25, it will mark the end of the play’s two year delay getting to the stage due to the pandemic.

But the truth is, Halifax-based playwright Katerina Bakolias has been waiting even longer than that to see her on-stage comedy come to life.

“It had a final version two years ago when we were going to get it up, but I actually started writing it in 2014,” remembers Bakolias. “(And) it started from a very different place.”

Produced by Kick at the Dark Theatre Company, 'Til Death Do Us Part is a playful, queer-centred comedy that follows a couple who check into a small town hotel ahead of their wedding, only to find that there is a dead stranger in their bed the following day.

Instead of reporting the mysterious, grim discovery, the pair decide to hide the body and carry on with the wedding preparations, even as the dark secret begins to eat away at the would-be newlyweds’ seemingly perfect relationship.

“(The idea) came from a break-up and it was that big, serious, major heartbreak in my life, so I had a lot of feelings about love and a lot of revelations about sex, and marriage, and relationships,” says Bakolias. “So, of course I was like, I’ll write about it and it will be a brilliant piece of art!”

While Bakolias admits writing ‘Til Death Do Us Part was a cathartic experience, the original draft was quite different — involving several couples, and it was much darker and dramatic.

“I was lucky,” says the Dalhousie University Fountain School of Performing Arts graduate. “I had some other more experienced theatre folks in my life who read drafts of that version and (said), ‘I think you should focus on this one (couple) — this is the one that seems like you are having the most fun with.'”

As a result, the play went through a journey of revisions before finding its way to the version that will be making its debut on Neptune Theatre’s Scotiabank Stage.

In fact, since Bakolias first put pen to paper on that first draft eight years ago, the young playwright has had an impressive creative journey herself.

From appearing as an actor in such stage productions as Neptune Theatre’s Peter Pan or in television shows like Diggstown, to writing short films and the acclaimed play, ReTaled (which premiered at the Halifax Fringe Festival in 2017), Bakolias has earned awards and gained a respectable reputation as one of Halifax’s most talented rising artists over a relatively short period of time.

“I’ve been writing stories for a long time, and it was this show and that break-up that kind of propelled me into writing something for the stage,” admits Bakolias, crediting Kick at the Dark Theatre Company for helping her to discover her true creative self.

She says that relationship formed organically when, soon after she finished university, Kick at the Dark’s Andrew Chandler approached her.

“Basically since then, we’ve just continued to work together,” says Bakolias, who eventually pitched ‘Til Death Do Us Part to the theatre company’s artistic producer. “It just seemed like a natural progression to sort of want to get this up on its feet that I would give it to somebody that I trusted personally and professionally — and he was very excited to really pull it all together.”

On stage from May 24 to 29, ‘Til Death Do Us Part not only promises to mark a big jump in the Bakolias’s already-accomplished career, but it will hopefully also bring some closure to the young playwright’s near-decade old break-up.

“So far, it’s just exceeded everything that I had expected from it,” says Bakolias. “Having just an amazing team behind it and everyone just adding their own creative touches is really just elevating well beyond what I thought the show was capable of — so it’s really exciting.”

For more information on ‘Til Death Do Us Part, visit the website.

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