In Conversation with Erika Downie, director of Seven Siblings Theatre’s THE PLAY ABOUT THE BABY
Interview by Hallie Seline
HS: Tell me a bit about the show:
Erika Downie: Imagine an advertisement for anything during the 50s and then introduce Salvador Dali mixed in with Picasso and sprinkled with Banksy and you have The Play about the Baby. It is naturalism turned upside down, the identity of individuals questioned and the dream world of a young couple’s “Eden” shattered, but always returning to hope.
HS: What drew you to Albee?
ED: His writing. The way he approaches character, and the arc of this play in particular was and is exciting. There is always something new to discover in Albee, every page can be approached with such different views that it’s exciting to see what will unfold. But I am most drawn to Albee’s approach to humanity, how he captures character in crisis with humour and play, but mostly with honesty and truth.
HS: This is one of Albee’s lesser known later plays. What drew you to direct the show for Toronto audiences now?
ED: Identity and the question of who you are and why and when you became you. We as a society are saddled with questions of identity and for some it’s very easy to proclaim who you are and for others… not so much. Albee discusses identity in a fundamental manner, you are who you are because of your lessons, your tragedies, your wounds. You grew from out of these moments and I thought it was very poignant to come to understand this and share this with our Toronto audiences.
HS: Edward Albee straddles the line between naturalism and absurdism in a really interesting way. There seems to be a tension between the two. How does working with the Michael Chekhov technique lend itself to performing this play?
ED: The Michael Chekhov technique lends itself to any play. Even in the “not so well written” plays Chekhov will help develop the best aspects of that play as best it can. For Albee’s The Play about the Baby is so well written that the marriage between Albee and Chekhov fell naturally into place. The focus was character relationships and through Chekhov the actors developed with such a solid foundation in character that the text lifts off the page and wraps itself around the audience forming a relationship between actor and audience, audience and playwright.
HS: What are you most looking forward to with presenting the show at The Rhino?
ED: Intimate spaces help bring the idea that the audience is in the living room of a young couple, The Rhino lends itself to this and puts the audience right in the action of the play.
HS: Describe the show in 5-10 words.
ED: Wounds children wounds, without them who are you?
HS: If your audience could listen to one song or soundtrack before coming, what would it be?
ED: Beethoven’s sixth.
The Play About The Baby
Presented by Seven Siblings Theatre
Written by Edward Albee
Directed by Erika Downie
Featuring Scott McCulloch, Judith Cockman, Will King, Nora Smith
Stage Managed by Emma Miziolek
Set Design by Stephen King
Produced by Madryn McCabe
A young couple has just had a baby. They are madly in love, and have the perfect life. Their bliss is suddenly interrupted when they are visited by an older man and woman. A truly strange turn of events transpires, setting off an evening of manipulations and mind games that ultimately question reality.
1249 Queen St. W., Toronto, Ontario, M6K 1L5
May 18 8:00pm
May 19 8:00pm
May 20 2:00pm
May 20 8:00pm
May 21 8:00pm
May 18-21 Artsworkers $20, General $25