Whether you're considering adoption or not, "The Call" offers a nuanced and unflinching look into the complicated and prickly nature of domestic and international adoption.
The Arkansas Repertory Theatre bravely tackles the sensitive topic of international adoption in playwright and screenwriter Tanya Barfield's "The Call," which runs through Feb. 11 on the Main Stage. The story offers an insightful look into the lives of lead characters Peter and Annie, a white, heterosexual couple who have moved past years of battling infertility issues and gained a new, hopeful desire to adopt a baby from Africa.
The story is told with only five characters. The couple's best friends Rebecca and Drea, a lesbian African-American couple, gently question their motivations behind adopting trans-racially—causing them to dig deeper into their intentions— while providing plenty of tension-breaking, lighthearted jabs that bring up humorous questions like who will do the child's hair.
The fifth character, Alemu, is Peter and Annie's new African neighbor who is delighted to hear the couple will be bringing home a child from his homeland. Alemu introduces the element of our global responsibility to help the children of Africa, adding to the intense pressure Annie feels to go through with the adoption when she gets news that makes her second guess her commitment.
"Tanya Barfield has a unique perspective on this story as a bi-racial woman who was adopted and identifies as gay," said John Miller-Stephany, producing artistic director at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. "Actually, we discovered that three of the five actors in the production and two staff members were also adopted. It's a story that's touched many lives in this production, and we are reaching out to those in the adoption community in the hopes of encouraging conversation, and who knows, there may even be a real possibility to inspire people to give a child a home," he said.
What's refreshing about "The Call" are the intimate glimpses you get into the lives of a couple going through the emotional rollercoaster of adoption. The elated moment when you get "the call" you've been waiting for from the agency, devastating moments when things don't go as planned, and the mixed bag of feelings of self-doubt, insecurity, pure joy and knowing in your heart when it's right.