Jamie Konchak is playing May in Sage Theatre’s production of Fool for Love. And she’s pretty excited about it. Back in November she was been away doing a project in Prince George, and now is performing Fool for Love in Edmonton with Shadow Theatre.The cast is bringing the show to Calgary next week and she’s thrilled to be coming home. “I’ve had a great time in Edmonton, but I’m excited to be back home among my friends and well known colleagues in the Calgary theatre community,” Konchak says when prompted about her return.
The creative team is adapting Sam Shepard’s play to the small space of the Joyce Doolittle Theatre in the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary, and it’s going to be a bit of a challenge. The play tells of the tainted romance between Eddie and May, and looks at how the desires of one generation can wreak destruction in the next.“It’s intense,” Konchak says when asked about what she likes about the play, “it asks a lot of everybody emotionally. It’s not a very long play, but you go through a lot in a short period of time while you’re on stage. You don’t really have a lot of time to breathe,” she adds. She explains that it’s a bit of a pressure cooker and that’s going to be stepped up when in Calgary. “The Joyce is a really intimate space,” she says,”and we’re confined to [that] small space.”
“I really quite like her,” Konchak states about her character May, “she’s got some serious struggles going on, and she’s just trying her dardest to make the best out of this one life we’ve been given.” It’s really a struggle that all of us are going through. But it seems that May has a lot of things holding her back. “There are all these things that keep getting in her way,” Konchak says, “her past is certainly one of them, Eddy, her lover is definitely a major piece. So when he returns, her past returns with him.”
This role is not without its challenges. Even the playwright has a note at the beginning of the play: this play is to be performed relentlessly, without intermission. Konchak opens up about the challenges of playing May, as well as the challenges of being an actor in general.
“It’s an emotionally complex role. You have characters who do kind of awful things, or say awful things to people and are going through things that don’t feel good as a human. And [my] job as an actor is to go there and to go there everyday, and embrace it with joy and open arms. So I find that difficult. It’s hard to call yourself to action, to go to those places everyday”
But she gets by with a little help from her friends. Playing alongside Konchak is Shaun Johnston of CBC’s Heartland. And Konchak can’t help but rave about him, “oh my gosh, he’s so lovely,” she says. “he brings such a raw honesty [and] it infuses the rest of the process, and the rest of us with energy as well.”
Johnston is revisiting Fool for Love, as he played Eddy in Shadow Theatre’s 1989 Edmonton Fringe Festival production and is now back as the Old Man.
“Firstly, I hope it’s a good night in the theatre and I hope that they experience it as such,” she says when asked about what she’s hoping audiences take away. “I think what Sam Shepard does really well in this play is that he asks us as performers and [as a viewer] to look at the grey tones and morality. I hope they are moved in moments,” she adds, “whether that be to laughter or to frustration.”
“Gosh, it feels like such a political question!” she groans when asked about what she’s personally looking forward to in the remainder of the theatre season. “I should answer somehow strategically that will help me in the coming years,” she jokes. Konchak doesn’t really need help, a Betty Michell winner from her role in The Penelopiad and two other nominations for best actress in a drama are her tract record. “I’m going to say Sweeny Todd, because it’s Mark Bellamy’s final production and he’s given so much to that company,” she says. “But now, I’m like, oh my gosh! it’s Sweeny Todd, I should mention something more indie!” she quips.
Sage Theatre’s Fool for Love opens next Thursday, with a preview on Wednesday. Tickets and more information can be found at sagetheatre.com
Also – check in here for a review.
Photo Credit: Rick MacWilliam for the Edmonton Journal