Receiving its world premiere in Halifax this month, The Gift will attempt to solve the age-old question: are we here by chance or destiny?
The world is a heck of a place right now … Come to this show if you want a place to forget all that, a place to enjoy just the sheer concept of living and having fun. – Ron Ulrich
Written and directed by long-time Canadian theatre veteran Ron Ulrich based on an idea by actor Robert Lamar, who also stars in the one-person play, the inspiration for The Gift sprang from Lamar’s grandfather.
“Robert’s grandfather gifted him this ability, this concept, this discussion and these experiments, which will help him to prove one way or the other, whether or not this gift of destiny or seeing destiny occurs,” says Ulrich.
From that initial idea, Lamar approached Ulrich to help turn the concept into a play in which Lamar’s estranged grandfather had just passed away.
“While exploring the house that he grew up in, he discovers this really cool philosophy where everything that has happened in his life seems to have been predetermined or predestined, and that’s how he wants to go forward,” explains Ulrich.
Ulrich clarified that while exploring destiny is at the core, The Gift does not venture into religious or metaphysical territories. Instead, it presents the idea that, from the moment of the Big Bang, a series of events were set into effect, shaping our destiny as individuals and as a collective.
“Every one of us at some point questions the concept of whether our actions are voluntary, destined, or merely a result of random chance,” says Ulrich. “Some people have the gift to explore and see, to question the very fabric of our existence. It’s a gift passed down through generations, a legacy that allows us to discover the interconnectedness of every moment, each one being a precious gift in itself.”
Producer Brookes Diamond revealed his excitement for The Gift, highlighting his affinity for diverse projects and expressed how the theme resonated with him due to personal experiences and beliefs passed down by his mother.
“We called her the gypsy who always told me things were destined to happen,” says Diamond. “And whether she was teasing or not, I never really figured that out, it caused me to think about that often. So, when I heard that this idea of destiny versus chance was at the show’s core, I was hooked.”
Rather than a strictly static viewing of The Gift, Lamar will invite audience members to help shape the outcome of the play.
“Ten people are chosen randomly from those who want to volunteer and will help Robert with an experiment to show whether or not destiny happens,” says Ulrich. “Robert’s experiments demonstrate that destiny is precisely why that person is up there or why a particular experiment is going the way it is.”
With hopes that The Gift will have life after its local run, Ulrich invites audiences to experience the show during its initial run in Halifax.
“The world is a heck of a place right now, with a lot of stuff going on and a lot of bad people running for power in this world,” he says. “Come to this show if you want a place to forget all that, a place to enjoy just the sheer concept of living and having fun.”
The Gift plays at Halifax’s St. Andrew’s Church Hall (6036 Coburg Rd, Halifax) through March 9. Visit experiencethegift.ca for tickets and information.