Clockwork Theatre, one of Vancouver’s newest independent theatre companies, launches its inaugural season with Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love.

Set in a dreary motel in the Mojave Desert, Fool For Love is quintessentially Shepard as it explores the relationship between two on-again-off-again lovers whose love-hate relationship is complicated by family secrets.

“I like messy lives,” laughs Becky MacDormand, co-artistic director for the fledgling theatre company. “Fool For Love really captures the idea that we are all interconnected.  The relationship between Eddie and May is similar to the cyclical nature that many people fall into; this idea where you can be obsessed about something and you keep coming back to, thinking you need it.”

Not originally convinced that Fool For Love was the right play for its first production, Phil Miguel, the second half of the artistic director duo, says it took him a few reads to see the power of the story.

“As I dove into it more it revealed such a desperate cycle of behavior between the characters, and how one person’s choices can branch out into other people’s lives,” says Miguel.

There were also practical considerations for the small up-start theatre company that is bank rolling the production themselves.

“It is not a huge cast or a huge set, and Sam Sheppard is a name that people know so hopefully that excites people to come see it,” says MacDormand.

Realizing there are risks involved in the increasingly crowded Vancouver independent theatre space, MacDormand and Miguel are hoping that a planned season will also appeal to Vancouver audiences.

“One thing that Phil and I are excited about doing is a three show season including a classical work, something that we think sometimes is lacking in Vancouver, a more modern work, and a new work,” says MacDormand.

Friends since their time together at Trinity Western University, MacDormand and Miguel have no illusions to the challenges of a new theatre company, but with a similar outlook on theatre, and complimentary skill sets, they are up for the task.

Phil Miguel and Becky McDormand are co-artistic directors of Clockwork Theatre
Phil Miguel and Becky MacDormand are co-artistic directors of Clockwork Theatre

“It can be challenging,” admits MacDormand. “I have a day job as well, and I’m not sure that will ever go away, but it’s exciting to be at the beginning of a new emerging company.”

For Miguel, that excitement is tempered with the reality of having spent some time at Pacific Theatre since graduating.

“It has been very helpful for me to see how a professional theatre company is run,” says Miguel. “It is perhaps a little less scary for me because I see the day-to-day that everyone is dealing with,and there is a certain calmness that I have from working at Pacific Theatre.”

While the duo have ambitious plans for three shows in its first season, it is concentrating on mounting Fool For Love before moving onto their next projects.

“We’ve talked about what the next show might be, but we don’t have any definite titles yet,” says MacDormand. “We’re hoping to do a classical piece, maybe something by Tennessee Williams and maybe even a play that I am writing.”

Fool For Love plays the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver) May 12-16. Visit http://clockworktheatre.org for tickets and information.