HOME FREE by Martin Julien, directed by Stewart Arnott, with Hume Baugh, Julien and Pamela Sinha. Presented by Hide & Seek at Factory Mainspace. Aug 3 at 6:30 pm, Aug 4 at 2 pm, Aug 5 at 12:30 pm, Aug 6 at 8 pm, Aug 7 at 9:30 pm, Aug 9 at 11 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Sometimes prisons have no visible bars.
In Martin Julien 's Home Free , Christian peacekeeper Frank is kidnapped by Muslim insurgents while on a mission in Iraq. His Canadian lover, Josh, must keep silent or risk Frank's life at the hands of his fundamentalist captors.
Remind you of the true story of Canadians James Loney and Dan Hunt? That was Julien's jumping-off point for the play, though he's fictionalized the specifics.
"When Loney was freed, I learned as did most other people that this Catholic worker was gay and partnered," says Julien. "It turned the story on its head, adding a dimension that moved it from the strictly political to a more intriguing personal realm.
"I was fascinated," he continues, "by the interaction involving truths, secrets and lies, public and private faces. What kind of multifarious self-definitions did those two carry in their own lives activists, Catholics, gay men in a spousal relationship. It was quite a collection."
Focusing on their period of separation, Julien wanted to add another character who'd point up the seeming paradoxes in the men's lives.
"I came up with a liaison officer working for the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, someone as different from the two men as possible."
So we meet Roula Said, a second-generation Muslim woman with some unexpected views on the partners and their situation.
And who are Josh and Frank?
"They've been together a long time, all their adult lives, in a committed, open relationship. Frank's the more vocal of the pair, the leader in the relationship and its more public face," adds Julien, who's also playing the role.
"Josh is by nature more retiring, perhaps lacking the confidence that Frank has in terms of faith and sexuality. He sees the slightly older Frank as both an equal and a mentor.
"And they're both imprisoned, Frank in a literal sense and Josh metaphorically, by his inability to be public about Frank's life and their partnership. That parallel of prisons is a fascinating one to explore."
Though known primarily as a performer, Julien's moving more and more into writing. The Unanswered Question premiered at the National Arts Centre last winter, and he's working on Blue Note, which uses choral singing to explore human loss.
"In Home Free, I wanted to write a piece that was contemporary and political. Theatre should take part in the public dialogue that we as a society must have about the central concerns in our lives. We see it happening with Tony Kushner in New York and David Hare in London. I want to participate in that kind of debate."