An intimate talk with The Inheritance's Daniel MacIvor and Qasim Khan

June 3, 2024

Johnnie Walker

A cutie Q&A with castmates Daniel MacIvor and Qasim Khan

Following smash-hit runs on Broadway and London’s West End, Matthew López’s The Inheritance is about to make its Toronto debut. Boasting an Angels in America-esque runtime and a stacked ensemble, this two-part epic is the hottest theatre event of the year! Inspired by E.M. Forster’s classic novel Howard’s End, López’s play shifts the focus to contemporary Manhattan (and obviously Fire Island) to tell the story of Eric and Toby: a 30-something gay couple trying to Have It All. Morgan, a fictionalized version of Forster, reaches through time to comment on the modern-day characters—and even interrupt for the occasional kiki.

The multigenerational cast includes legendary writer-performer Daniel MacIvor as Morgan and rising star Qasim Khan as Eric. Daniel and Qasim had the following chat for Yohomo to dish about The Inheritance, Hanlan’s Point, and the radical potential of queer tenderness.

Photo by Daliah Katz

DANIEL: What did you know about Forster before you started working on the play?

QASIM: Outside of knowing that The Inheritance was kinda based on Howard's End, I had no idea that either the book or Forster existed. You mentioned you were reading Howard's End in preparation—was that your first time?

DANIEL: Before starting prep for The Inheritance, I didn't know Forster at all. For me, it was a revelation. So far ahead of its time: a cultural critique on industrialization and capitalism and the class system with a very progressive focus on the land and our misuse of it.

QASIM: On the note of Forster: a friend of mine in Stratford came across a first edition copy of Maurice yesterday at a thrift shop. 

DANIEL: Wow! I'm jealous.

QASIM: He said it was just sitting there for $3.99.

DANIEL: When I was in San Francisco earlier this year, I did manage to find a first edition of a book of Edward Carpenter essays (the dear friend—and maybe lover?—of Forster.) As it says in The Inheritance, Carpenter was the OG Radical Faerie. Did you know about the Radical Faeries? 

QASIM: I knew nothing about the Radical Faeries! The joy of this process is being exposed to a slew of history I never knew existed—because, as the play talks about, queer history isn't taught.

DANIEL: The Faeries are amazing. When I was younger they scared me because of their engagement with the feminine. Back in my day, that was so dangerous. A lot of us felt that butching it up was the only way to survive. The Faeries were having none of that BS.

QASIM: Thinking of the Faeries makes me think of Hanlan's on Toronto Island—when you look past the vanity, the expensive speedos, and party-culture, Hanlan's is actually a special place that connects queerness with earth in a small way. Maybe I'm too critical and the Faeries would think it's perfect.

DANIEL: They'd have a slightly separate encampment with drums and bells and garlands and dancing—but as the sun starts setting it would be the spot on the beach. There's this conversation in the play about missing the social life of gay bars / clubs which resulted in a lot of talk about Toronto spaces of the past. Did that idea resonate with you?

QASIM: In my Village-era, I was using chat rooms to meet people. Going out in the Village felt intense to me back then. I would've been in my early twenties and had the self-confidence of a Kleenex. I very much felt like a visitor versus a member of the community. 

DANIEL: I so get that. It was a strange time back in the 80s and 90s. It reminded me of high school cliques. Like you, I felt like a visitor.

QASIM: As I get older, I realize that a gay club or gay bar is more than just a place to get tanked and make out with a stranger—these are places for us to understand ourselves in relation to others like us. I'm rocking this middle-pocket in the generational-queer continuum, because there's so clearly a generation in front of me and a generation behind me. What is it like working with two younger generations of queer folks on this show?

DANIEL: I welcome my role as an elder. And I love being in this multi-generational rehearsal room—it feels so united, like a true community.

QASIM: As Eric describes in the play, queer culture in the past felt like "a secret culture, with a shared language, and shared secret experiences." 

DANIEL: I miss the "secret culture" thing. My line is: I preferred it when we were over the rainbow and under the radar. But of course, that's coming from a white cis dude who quickly learned how to pass as straight—I always had the mainstream option.

QASIM: During the pandemic, with restrictions and limitations in the real world, it feels like queer folks took over the internet. My DMs on Instagram became sitting around a table at a gay bar. It reminded me that my earliest exposure to queer stuff was via the internet. My first gay friends were strangers I would meet in chat rooms and message boards. 

DANIEL: The fabric of our early lives are so different that way. The digital age happened to me—while you were born into it. How that affects our experiences of queerness must be enormous. And yet: hearts still love don’t they? And break. Here's a show-specific question for you—inside the process: greatest joy?

QASIM: Getting to play these scenes. López has written some beautiful dialogue. It feels current without being cringey, and it feels epic because the situations that the characters are in are all very large. 

DANIEL: Greatest challenge?

QASIM: The stamina and long-term-planning of threading a character's arc over two plays. In Part One, it feels like Eric is gathering bits and pieces of information about himself that he's tucking away, and in Part Two he gets to take them out one-by-one and make use of them. What's one part of the piece you look forward to? 

DANIEL: Being allowed to watch you beautiful actors work those gorgeous scenes. It is where Daniel and Morgan are one. Morgan is delighting in the story being told and I'm delighting in how it's being told.

The Inheritance cast photo by Dhalia Katz

QASIM: Greatest challenge so far for you?

DANIEL: Looking for the arc with the audience. In this play, it's a different sort of direct address than I am used to. In my own work, I do it a lot but there's always a wink in it. Here’s what I want to know: the play is about gay men and yet so many of us in the cast would first identify as queer. Where do you see this sitting?

QASIM: I identified as gay from the day I came out when I was thirteen. Somewhere in 2019, I found myself engaging in the world in a different way. My "gay" relationship was feeling like I was trying to recreate the relationship dynamics of my straight family and friends; to measure my life in relation to straightness. In 2020, when the world stopped, I discovered that queerness allows all of the unique parts of me to live together in a more fulsome way and in conversation with each other. Queerness challenges the system, where "gay" strives to fit inside the system. 

DANIEL: This feels so deeply true.  

QASIM: Eric operates in the world in the same way I did for a huge part of my life. My hunch is that if someone were to ask Eric how he identifies after the play is done, he might say that he's queer.

DANIEL: In a society that races toward fundamentalism, tenderness has become queer.  

QASIM: I think it's pretty beautiful for a group of people to bravely walk through the hallways of capitalism leaving a trail of kindness, care, and tenderness behind them.

DANIEL: It is important to recognize that it is tenderness that lives in the centre of this play. The whole thing surrounds a heart that contains trauma and joy and grief and old-fashioned love and new-fangled love and hope and humanity.

QASIM: The beauty of the piece is that it's about a group of tender-hearted men trying their best to do the right thing.

DANIEL: That so beautifully describes the play. Do people need to see both parts?  

QASIM: The first part sets the puzzle pieces on the table, and the second part puts them all together in a very surprising way. The event of The Inheritance is both parts—so for the full story, the full journey, and the full experience, you gotta do the whole thing. 

DANIEL: I agree: to see Part Two is to see the pieces of Part One put to use.

QASIM: Do audiences need to have read Howard's End to understand and appreciate The Inheritance

DANIEL: Most certainly not. I think it's a delight to see where López has borrowed and adapted and ignored the original. There's lots of Easter eggs in there for those in the know—the umbrella, the names, literal lines—but The Inheritance stands fully on its own.  


The Inheritance ~ written By Matthew López and directed by Brendan Healy ~ runs March 22 to April 13th at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

Grab tickets for the two parts here while you can!