As a child, Chris Bullough had an especially close bond with his grandfather.
“He passed away when I was 10, but he left an indelible sort of mark on me,” the actor and occasional playwright recalls. “I had this memory of him in my head of just unconditional love.”
But when Bullough got a bit older, he began to hear some other stories about the man: particularly tales about his membership to The Orange Lodge, an Protestant fraternal society with a layer of secrecy and a reputation for, among other things, actively antagonizing the Catholic belief system.
“It just didn’t fit with this image I had with my grandfather,” Bullough recalls. “That he would be someone who hated people because of what they believed in. So I had a bit of a crisis with it, really trying to put this together in my head, and reconcile these two very conflicting images of my grandfather.”
Apples and Oranges was born out of that crisis. The Theatre For Young Audiences script that Bullough began back in 2003, which saw an initial run in 2009 with Concrete Theatre, and is now being remounted by the same company, was Bullough’s attempt to sort through some of those feelings in a way that was both child-friendly and didactic.
“I’m trying to make it fun, and trying to express what I was going through at the time,” he says. “And try to reconcile these two very different ideas of my grandfather, and what it meant … I just tapped into the absolute ridiculousness of the whole thing.”
The allegorical plot concerns two cultures living on the same island; each peoples have told big tales of the other side’s evil ways, but when a young Papple boy and Orange-Folk girl meet, the two discover there can just as easily be friendship between them, without the pre-existing prejudice to clutter things up.
It’s all told in rhyme, too—Bullough happily admits to taking a page from a certain Dr Seuss’s MO in the name of adding a fun dynamic to the story.
“I liked the idea of kids trying to process the world that’s being revealed to them as they grow older,” he says. “As adults reveal more and more about their own prejudices and try to justify them. I just poured everything I talked about before into this, and started broadening my approach, and really tapping into the farcical nature of it all.”
Fri, Feb 7 (7 pm); Sat, Feb 8 (11 am & 2 pm)
Directed by Mieko Ouchi
ATB Financial Arts Barns, $12.50 – $18