One man’s journey to seek out a new life in the tropics has inspired an intimate, new play by the sibling playwrights of Castlereigh Theatre Project.
Ocean Fox (a work-in-progress) looks at the tumultuous life and times of Jef Fox, an American dive-master on a remote Bahamian islet called Harbour Island.
Verbatim from interviews with island residents, Ocean Fox is a spiritual odyssey that navigates the waters of tradition and devotion toward an uncertain horizon.
Brother and sister playwrights, Francesca Albright and Jude Thaddeus Allen, travelled to the remote island on vacation where they met Fox on a diving excursion and were immediately intrigued by his story.
“Jef took us out on the water and . . . for a moment we had experienced a part of his life, which elevated our vision beyond what one might plainly see in front of them, which is a man who sought out a life in the tropics and the change that involved, and the beauty and humanity that comes along with making a change like that,” says Allen, Castlereigh co-artistic director.
Originally from Connecticut, Fox is a 30-year resident of Harbour Island, which is no more than six kilometers long and has a population of less than 2,000. It’s just one of the more than 3,000 islands, cays and islets that make up The Bahamas.
In September 2011, Allen and Albright spent 30 days on the island researching the play. They interviewed many people, including Fox, using a dictaphone.
“By doing by voice alone, it steers the way the play itself manifests,” says Allen. “We feel that without that visual influence we get something a little more real.”
After transcribing and analyzing their recordings, what emerged is “a semblance, or some sort of aura of the Bahamas, which gives us a more literal version of what a man and his island really is,” says Allen.
“There’s an anticipation, a wish that the audience’s experience of Ocean Fox involves any and all of the Bahamas that we brought home with us.”
Actor Rhys Finnick plays Fox, as well as 14 other characters in the play, which is directed by Peter Boychuk.
“I was interested in docu-drama and had never directed one before,” says Boychuk. “I think it’s really interesting to devise a piece entirely from transcripts and interviews because it creates a very different style of show. There are some interesting challenges like how you dramatize things coming out of interviews and things of that nature. You have a lot of freedom with how you put things together, but you’re also bound…. You can’t just make things up.”
His challenge is finding the appropriate places for drama and creating tension in the play, trimming down lines and getting inventive about how to keep people’s attention.
Because it’s a work in progress, it will be fairly bare-bones, with a simple set and lighting.
“Life doesn’t have tidy little character arcs and all the things we’re used to in drama, people don’t always come to realizations and transform. Things don’t always get tied up in neat little bows and sometimes profound things happen and nobody changes.”
Castlerigh Theatre Project has been around since 2007 when Albright and Allen travelled to Medicine Hat, Alta., to research their first project, Castle in the Sky,(which Victoria audiences may remember from Intrepid Theatre’s YOUSHOW in 2011) which tells the tale of a 12-year-old girl and her 23-year-old boyfriend who murdered her entire family. M
Intrepid Theatre Club (1609 Blanshard)
July 27 and 28, 8pm (doors at 7pm), reception to follow.
Tickets: $10 at ticketrocket.org, email@example.com or phone/text 250 858 6870