Play dives into magnetic attraction of water
Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 06:00 am
Water is inextricably linked to us. We drink it. We cook our food in it. We bathe in it. Our life depends on it and as such, it has complete power over us.
And then there’s dowsing, the practice of searching for water with a divining rod or a forked branch or a couple of bent wires.
Some call it a hoax and debunk it. Yet an equal amount of people believe humans can sense electric and magnetic energy invisible to the eyes – much like animals.
Great theatre thrives on speculation and controversy, and it was only a matter of time before The Frequency of Water playing Jan. 17 to 26 at ATB Financial Arts Barn would see a remount.
“It’s a play about memory and about water. Water is a big topic right now because of the flooding down south, and about who owns the resources and our care of water,” said director Maralyn Ryan, founding artistic director of St. Albert Children’s Theatre.
Under the umbrella of Kaybridge Productions, playwright-director Carol Murray-Gilchrist first premiered The Frequency of Water at the 2006 Fringe Festival. It was an unusual concept with a strong cast and it carried home the 2007 Sterling Award for Outstanding New Fringe Work.
Murray-Gilchrist was always convinced of an unexplainable link of water to our bodies. The Spruce Grove teacher’s grandmother was a dowser with a renowned reputation for locating underground streams and water pockets.
In her play, Murray-Gilchrist introduces the young Michael Garrett (Jack Walker) as a young boy dropped off at his grandmother’s (Michele Vance-Hehir) for the summer. His father has a new partner and doesn’t want his son around.
The grandmother is a dowser or water witch.
“He feels she’s out of step with water. He has all the technology, but she brings him to a place where he can heal and propels him towards chemistry. In his studies, he comes to believe water has a memory,” explains Ryan.
As he defends his thesis about water’s memory to his sonochemistry students, the older Michael (Dave Horak) is flooded by memories from a childhood summer.
Horak, a musical theatre instructor at MacEwan University is both an actor and a teacher and he brings an authenticity to the role, Ryan adds.
“He can be dynamic yet brings a vulnerability we didn’t have in our previous production,” states Ryan adding she played the role of dowser in the original production.
In trying to prove his theory, 30 years later Michael goes back to the lake near his grandmother’s home.
“He’s heard it’s polluted when it used to be pristine. There’s a theory you can clean the water with a sound machine that bursts molecules and the water cleans itself. When he puts the sound machine in the water, it catches on a fabric suitcase and he finds a body.”
In going back to his youth, Michael comes to realize that what we do to water also affects us.
“People may believe water doesn’t have memory, but what if you believe it’s alive? Ultimately we are responsible for the environment. I love the idea of divining, having a connection to nature and that is our source of life.”