By Alicia Ward
Intense and all-consuming desire takes to the Taking Flight festival stage at the University of Calgary in Fool For Love. The catch? The lovers are brother and sister. Don’t turn away just yet. This beautiful story of passion, complications and sorrow will captivate and intrigue you.
“Throughout the play we look at and examine memory and each character’s idea of what has happened in the past. And those ideas of what has happened in the past are conflicting,” says director Mike Griffin. “It’s not as simple as incest. I think that the base of this play is love and desire.”
Fool for Love’s emotional intensity is shown right at the outset. When the lights come up there is no time to get to know the characters, instead the audience is thrown into the thick of an ongoing argument between the two lovers.
“We’re thrown right into the heat of the play,” notes Griffin. “What’s really interesting is there’s this magnetic push and pull of these two characters because both of them desire each other so much . . . but [it’s not] the right thing for [them].”
The play deals with many unusual and impossible relationships, especially the passion between a brother and sister. This story explores following an individual making the right choices and not expecting someone to be something they cannot. To the audience the relationship is wrong but to the characters it seems right. These uncertainties are what drove Griffin to the script. After reading about 28 plays by Love’s playwright, Sam Sheperd, Griffin was drawn to Fool For Love because it was different than the rest.
“[Sam Sheperd] is very extreme. He links to surrealism, expressionism, a lot of those ‘isms’ that really push the edges of theatre,” describes Griffin. “Fool For Love is sort of a mix. It really pushes the limits of Sheperd’s realism but his realism is never pure.”
Not many of us can relate to loving a sibling romantically or, as Griffin notes, even know what falling in love feels like. In that case, how does a director get an actor to tap into those feelings? Getting actors emotionally and mentally into the characters was a challenge for Griffin. For a genuine performance the ability to not force anything but rather have it come from a natural place is important.
“One of the things I’ve tried to do is try to link the personal experiences of my actors as much as possible to what’s going on in the play,” Griffin describes.
Griffin is currently working on his MFA at the U of C. As part of his degree he must create short scenes from plays throughout the year. Having an opportunity to create a full play instead of just a scene has been a positive and welcome experience for Griffin. After Fool For Love, he looks to next year when he will direct the drama department’s first main stage show — The Liar by Carlo Goldoni.
“The two plays are incredibly different,” laughs Griffin. “Each show is so unique . . . I’m definitely very excited about jumping into my thesis for next year.”
For now, Griffin still focuses on “the uniqueness of a loving relationship” in Fool For Love. Griffin is hoping the play reaches out to a larger audience than just the fine arts community and their families. With the Claim Your Seat program, where U of C students get in free with their university identification, attending U of C shows is easier, and cheaper, than ever.
“We find this storybook sense of love and Fool For Love examines what love is like on a different level. The underbelly of love,” says Griffin. “[To examine how] your view of the past really influences who you are, who you are to become and the relationships that come out of that.”