GIRLS AND HORSES, by A. Shay Hahn, directed by Karla Faulconbridge, with Emily Hurson, Joe Pingue and Mary Francis Moore. Presented by Mad Craft Habit Theatreworks at the Factory Mainspace. Aug 3 at 9 pm, Aug 5 at 8 pm, Aug 7 at 3:30 pm, Aug 8 at 6 pm, Aug 12 at 12:30 pm, Aug 13 at 6:30 pm.
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Karla Faulconbridge has added a new direction to her career as a designing woman.
Theatre-goers already know her as a talented set designer, with impressive indie credits like Theatre Viscera's Muscle Memory and Mark Lonergan's velo/city.
But earlier this year she successfully directed A. Shay Hahn's urban satire Model Homes for Rhubarb!, and this week she helms Hahn's Girls And Horses.
According to the multitasking Faulconbridge -- who's also designing sets for two other SummerWorks shows, Sanctuary and Au "Country Road" -- the two disciplines aren't far apart.
"A director has to create a complete sense of a play's world, and the same goes for a designer," she says. "When you're designing, you're also examining blocking, movement and rhythm. I think working in two disciplines makes me stronger in each of them."
She couldn't have chosen a better play to direct.
Hahn's script shows what happens when an Internet start-up salesman named Conrad (Joe Pingue) gets stranded in the heart of darkness that is the Ontario countryside, surrounded by nature and two seemingly normal women (Emily Hurson and Mary Frances Moore).
It's a horrific and highly entertaining twist on the city slicker/country bumpkin theme, with shots at urban sprawl, back-to-earth types, dot-coms and even our paranoia over rural drinking water. It's naturalism turned supernatural.
The main challenge? Mood and tone. And how do you suggest things without tipping them off too soon?
"I'm trying to create shifts subtly," says Faulconbridge, part of the triumvirate that is Mad Craft Habit Theatreworks, with Hahn and designer J.P. Robichaud. Each of them has a design background.
"Much of the mood will be suggested by the physicality of the characters," she says. "Joe is jittery, and the women are quiet and still and have the speech patterns of people from an inbred community."
The show's dominant image will be one of isolation, evoked by having the action focused on a 16-square-foot playing area on the vast Factory Theatre mainstage.
Faulconbridge, who recently travelled with Robichaud to the Blyth Festival, where Hahn is head designer, says she never really understood such intense isolation until the trip.
"We looked out the window and saw miles and miles of nothing. My big question with the play is, 'Why doesn't Joe run?' He can't. There's nowhere to run."