By Alex Brown
"A duet for three." This wonderful articulation, both poetic and paradoxical, creates an atmosphere of smokey spirituality, which is precisely the purpose of this unique phrase. As the subtitle for The Darling Family, these words set the mood for the theatrical journey that follows.
The players in this duet are He and She, a couple for three months, who have recently learned that She is pregnant. This unplanned pregnancy represents the "presence of the absent third party" which inspired the subtitle, describes director Dawn Ford.
The play follows a series of conversations between the couple as they come to terms with the pregnancy. It explores the feelings of these individuals, "spiritually, emotionally and idealogically as well as intellectually," emphasizes Ford.
Playwright Linda Griffiths collaborated closely with the actors as she wrote the play, allowing it to be entirely character driven. This causes the potent spiritual issues of the characters to be brought to the fore.
This concept of spirituality is fully explored in the play, which runs until Nov. 11 at the Pumphouse Theatre. It is addressed through the emotions of the characters, their conversation and even the context of their actions.
"The whole play exists within a healing circle," says Ford. "They’re purging themselves of their negative experiences."
The theatre is set in the round, and as the play progresses, action follows this circular path. Images are based on this clockwise movement in the healing circle, says Ford.
"I have a very distinct directorial vision," says Ford, regarding the complexity of this arrangement.
She remains undaunted, having applied this vision to a number of projects, including directing the award-winning production of Daniel MacIvor’s House. She is also an accomplished actor and co-artistic director of Rogues Theatre, a company that aims to bridge the gap between amateur actors and the professional acting community. Ford is currently a student at the University of Calgary where she is studying for her master’s degree in theatre. She teaches acting with Rogues Theatre.
"Children inspire me!" she exclaims. The enthusiastic Ford has resolved to teach far into the future.
Originally, Ford felt an affinity towards The Darling Family because of the structure of action within the play. However, her true affection lies in the personal connections one can make with such a story of self-exploration.
"It’s about following that journey and understanding that every decision is specific," says Ford.