Dolphin dads, tiger moms, helicopter parents. … What’s the right way to raise children, anyway?
That question is too loaded to be definitively answered in Central Alberta Theatre’s season-opening play, Rounding Third, by Richard Dresser.
But some light will certainly be shed on the subject of parenting when this baseball-as-a-metaphor-for-life comedy opens on Thursday, Oct. 2, at the Nickle Studio, upstairs at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre.
Rounding Third is about two Little League baseball coaches with polar-opposite philosophies about how to deal with children.
The head coach, Don, is a no-nonsense blue-collar worker, who believes his young players need to be taught to get ahead in life.
“He believes winning is everything and he’s not above bending the rules to achieve that,” said Bob Grieg, who is co-directing this comedy with his wife Geanette.
The assistant coach, Michael, on the other hand, is a company executive who wants to help coach the team as a way of bonding with his son, who’s one of the players.
Michael is more into allowing the kids to have fun and learn from positive experiences. “Winning is secondary to him” said Grieg.
But this soft, permissive approach drives Don crazy — especially when Michael starts telling a little-leaguer that it’s OK for boys to cry.
Is it possible for these two odd-couple coaches to find some kind of middle ground?
Grieg won’t divulge what happens, saying people will have to see the play to find out. But it’s safe to assume both men will go through transformative experiences that make them reconsider some of their original attitudes towards their young players, he said.
“It is possible to start appreciating another person’s point of view if you start walking in their shoes — even though at first it seems hopeless.”
Grieg believes the U.S. comedy is timely, with various parenting styles hitting the headlines recently.
A debate continues between proponents of authoritative parenting, as in the tiger mom, all-work-little-play method, and the more permissive dolphin dad, parent-as-playmate approach.
Experts also question whether today’s helicopter parents, who helpfully hover over their children from birth into young adulthood, are ultimately hindering them from taking responsibility for their own lives.
Grieg admitted his own parenting philosophy is closer to Michael’s than Don’s. But he and Geanette have worked hard to help the local actors (Craig Scott as Michael and Perry Mill as Don) play both characters dimensionally.
Audience members should understand that Don really wants the best for the young players, said Grieg. “He wants to teach them that the world is hard, (making) money is hard, jobs are hard. …
“He thinks Michael’s living in a candy-ass world, where everybody goes out for popsicles and everything’s wonderful and fun. But life’s not like that. Life’s not fair.”
The Griegs say they enjoyed working with the cast and crew on this, their first directing effort for a full-length play, and are excited to share their comedy with an audience.
“I think a lot of people might see themselves in this,” said Bob Grieg with a chuckle.
Tickets are $32.70 for the 7:30 p.m. shows that run Oct. 2 to 19 (2 p.m. matinees on Oct. 5 and 12) from the Black Knight Inn.