Damien Barlett and Mitchell Larsen star in “The Narrow Path”. (Donald B. Campbell)
“If people laughed a little bit more, they wouldn’t have to pray so much.” This is the overarching theme in Donald B. Campbell’s The Narrow Path. The Saskatoon playwright is making his return to the PotashCorp Fringe Theatre Festival with a story of religion, sexuality and all the questions that lay in between.
Campbell is a pioneer of the Fringe scene here in Canada, he was part of the very first North American festival held in Edmonton in 1982. He says those early years were a risk. “No one knew if it was going to work,” says Campbell. “No one knew if independent theatre was going to work. For me it was a huge eye opener.”
“No one knew if independent theatre was going to work. For me it was a huge eye opener.”
In the years that followed, Campbell continued to have plays produced for the stage including On The Line (Globe Theatre 2002, 2003), On The River’s Edge (Battleford Community Players 2009) and Short Cuts (Hardly Art Theatre, Saskatoon 2014).
The Narrow Path marks his return to the Fringe. “This is my Act II in my playwriting after a brief intermission,” explains Campbell. “I hadn’t written any new stuff in a while but when this play was chosen by the Spring Festival of New Plays in 2015, I took it as a sign.”
Donald B. Campbell returns to the Fringe scene with “The Narrow Path”.
The play was workshopped and rewritten fleshing out Campbell’s characters. The result, says Campbell is a more balanced story showing the grey areas in life.
The play centres around Robert, a conservative pastor struggling with his faith and his own sexuality. It’s only with the arrival of a visitor to his town that Robert is forced to face reality. Campbell says the idea came to him about 5 years ago. He read about a speaker brought in by a local church to talk about recovering from homosexuality. “She claimed to be walking the straight and narrow path. It was a major red flag for our community,” says Campbell. “There were protesters outside the church and the community was visibly upset. I couldn’t stop thinking about the pastor that made a choice to bring her in.”
The result was a play that Campbell says deals with some very heavy topics but does so with a ton of humour. “I’m just excited to be back because the people who see plays at the Fringe are really there to push the boundaries of theatre and are willing to engage with the productions.”
The 2016 PotashCorp Fringe Festival runs July 28 – August 6.
Click here for more details on The Narrow Path.
Click here for more festival details.