3 Questions: Mindy Parfitt talks about her new theatre company, The Father, and dementia

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      To launch Vancouver's newest theatre company, The Search Party, Mindy Parfitt is directing The Father.

      Showing at the Vancity Culture Lab from November 21 to 30, it tells the story of a woman struggling to care for a father who's fighting for his own autonomy, even as he's battling dementia.

      The show marks the first time French playwright Florian Zeller’s work has been presented in Vancouver.

      Parfitt's recruited a strong team for the show, which stars Kevin McNulty, Jillian Fargey, Steven Lobo, Agnes Tong, Emma Slipp, and Kayvon Khoshkam on-stage, and features set by Amir Ofek, lighting by Itai Erdal, sound composition by Owen Belton, and costumes by Jessica Oostergo.

      We asked Parfitt three questions.


      What’s the vision for The Search Party, the new theatre company that’s launching with this show?

      The Search Party exists to bring emotionally powerful and aesthetically rigorous productions to Vancouver’s stages. Focusing on contemporary theatre, it is committed to a strong cohesion between text and design. 


       What spoke to you most about the way Florian Zeller deals with the father’s dementia in the play?

      The masterful way The Father is constructed allows the audience to get inside the protagonist’s experience. Florian Zeller is able to create characters and relationships that embody the complexity of dementia. He brings to life the isolation and the humour associated with the disease.


      Dementia is a difficult subject that more and more of us are having to face with our parents. How do you think this work helps the conversation?

      Over one million people in Canada are directly or indirectly affected by dementia. Its sufferers are increasingly silenced, not only by the illness, but also by societies dismissal of their individuality and voice. By producing this work, we are creating an opportunity for audiences to learn more about dementia. We are using theatre to expose the human that exists within the illness. Predominantly, the conversation surrounding dementia is focused on treatment and institutionalization. By exploring it through theatre, we are reframing the conversation to focus on the experience of the illness. 

      Mindy Parfitt