I'm Haley McGee, a solo performer, theatre-maker, actor, writer and voiceover artist, originally from Canada, now based in London, UK.
I’ve been described as “defiantly distinctive” (The Scotsman), “a fearless, raw talent” (CBC Radio), and “one to watch” (A Younger Theatre).
I create solo shows, live performances and plays for people who want to see innovative theatre that makes them feel everything.
Combining my diverse experience as a classical actor, improviser, storyteller and clown, I talk directly to audiences and celebrate the live-ness of theatre.
I’m into liberating the female voice on taboo subjects and digging into uncomfortable questions with humour and guts.
I’ve toured my solos to over 35 venues in 11 countries around the world. The shows have received 4 & 5-star reviews, enjoyed sold out performances and won awards, including Best Production at United Solo, NYC (the world’s largest solo show festival).
As an actor I’ve worked with The National Theatre Studio, BBC Radio 4, The Yard Theatre (UK), Canadian Stage, Off-Mirvish and CBC (Canada) among many others. As a writer, I've developed projects with Battersea Arts Centre, Camden People’s Theatre, The Stratford Festival of Canada and the Banff Centre. (For more details, see my longer bio below).
As a voiceover artist, I’ve worked with many companies including NBC, ITV, Virgin Active, EY, Spotify, LinkedIN & HP and I’m beginning to cook up my own audio projects — more details on these imminently.
My focus has been solo work in recent years, but I've also written plays for many actors, devised shows and dabbled in video. I thrive on variety.
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★★★★ “a disturbingly powerful production by a hugely talented writer and performer"
- The Skinny on OH MY IRMA
★★★★ “funny, strange, excruciating & affecting"
- The Telegraph on IDTFY
I make live performance and theatre shows about uncomfortable questions, that are funny, gutsy and surprising. Drawing on my diverse training and experience, my work spans storytelling, live-art, clown, improv, stand up and dance.
I smash performance traditions together and talk directly to audiences, in order to get back to the ancient functions of performance — communion and catharsis — in new, relevant ways.
I believe that theatre can play a vital role in helping us feel less isolated (a crumby bi-product of working remotely and socialising in digital spaces) by embracing its live-ness and underlining the audience’s necessity to the event. So sometimes my work is interactive, even becoming an open conversation between performer and audience, and other times the audience’s involvement is more subtle.
The polarities of hilarity and despair are present in everything I create. And I’m fascinated by the power of interpersonal politics, the battles we wage against our former selves and how our bodies reflect our unspoken histories.
My work is inherently feminist, liberating the female voice on taboo subjects (self-harm, debt, failed relationships) and taking on the double standards women face (in comedy, romance and as agents of crime).
Each of my shows is a response to a big question:
“If you do something irreversible, is love still unconditional?” (OH MY IRMA) “Why is a woman who makes a big romantic gesture for man deemed pathetic and desperate, when a man who does the same thing is celebrated?” (I’m Doing This for You) “Is it possible to have a good homecoming if you still hate the place and people you’re from?” (Kitchener +Waterloo) “Can you turn sentimental value into cold hard cash?” (The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale)
My theatre is silly, sexy, live, whip-smart and unafraid to careen into dark corners.
Originally from a mid-sized twin cities in Canada (Kitchener-Waterloo), I spent 12 years in Toronto, before relocating to London (UK).
After completing my conservatory training as an actor, I worked as a performer with many of Canada's most prestigious theatre companies. Highlights include touring with Stan Douglas’ live film noir, Helen Lawrence (BAM, Royce Hall, King's Theatre Edinburgh, Munich Kammerspiele, deSignel, Canadian Stage) and the premieres of Hannah Moscovitch’s Infinity (Volcano/Tarragon) and George F. Walker's Dead Metaphor (Off-Mirvish/Canadian Rep).
I started creating solo work shortly after graduating from theatre school. My first show, OH MY IRMA, began as a 2-minute monologue that I performed at emerging artist nights around Toronto and gradually grew to a full-length show. This process of creating through performance has informed how I make solo shows -- the audience's reaction helps me to decide that impulses to pursue and what to ignore.
OH MY IRMA was developed at Theatre Passe Muraille's BUZZ Festival, before a run a the Edmonton Fringe and premiere at TPM in 2011. Not wanting the show to end after this run, I began touring it internationally.
Performing OH MY IRMA at festivals and venues around the world exposed me to artists working in all sorts of different forms and styles and from different traditions, which I found to be incredibly exciting and inspiring. My subsequent solos have all been international co-creations, with companies in London (UK), Berlin and Toronto with artists based in those cities as collaborators.
My solos have played in the UK, USA, Netherlands, Germany, Canada, Finland, Kosovo, Poland, Bulgaria, Japan and Mongolia, and two seasons at the Edinburgh Fringe (won: The Brompton Prize, Lustrum Award, shortlist: Arches Brick Award & Brighton Comedy Award). OH MY IRMA has been produced in French and German. More detail about each of my solos under "solo projects".
From 2010-2015 I was heavily involved with Common Boots Theatre (formerly Theatre Columbus), a le Coq-based physical theatre company in Toronto. There I honed my skills in clown and collective creation, performed in two outdoor winter shows, co-created The Public Servant (published by Canadian Theatre Review) and wrote an outdoor winter show, Weather the Weather, both of which were produced by the company.
Since relocating to the UK I have worked with The Yard Theatre (Deborah Pearson's Made Visible), The National Theatre Studio (TomorrowLoveVR) and BBC Radio 4 (The Hours); my solos have been presented by CPT, BAC, The Albany, Drayton Arms, Summerhall and The Bike Shed. I was a member of Camden People's Theatre's Starting Blocks Scheme where I began work on my new solo, The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale. CPT continues to support the development of this work towards a full-production.
As a playwright my work has been supported and developed by The Battersea Arts Centre, Camden People’s Theatre, Theaterdiscounter (Berlin), The Stratford Festival, The National Theatre School of Canada, The Banff Centre for the Arts, Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal, Tarragon Theatre and Nightwood Theatre.
I hold an Honours BFA in Acting from Ryerson University and studied improvisation as part of The Second City’s Conservatory Program.