In 2011, during his final year as artistic director at 7 Stages, Del Hamilton handed associate artistic director Michael Haverty a copy of The Navigator, a book by Irish author Eoin McNamee, and mentioned that it might make a good play if adapted. This month Haverty takes Hamilton up on the suggestion by staging an immersive, site-specific version, running through Oct. 13 at Atlanta’s Goat Farm Arts Center.
“It’s a classic hero’s journey,” says Haverty. The Navigator follows Owen, a teenager with no friends who has lost his father. As the world around him begins to disappear, he joins a fantastical group called the Resisters to battle against the Harsh, a group known for being soulless, cold and bored. Joining Owen is Cat, a young woman. “They have a fun and feisty relationship. It’s a real companionship,” says Haverty, adding that the show unfolds over some 12 acres at Goat Farm. “We go at a zig-zag and have resting stops for people, and it’s wheelchair-accessible.” Belying its name, the Goat Farm is a former cotton-gin factory “with a huge barn, and there are old machines lying around giant shattered greenhouses. It’s the perfect place to set this.”
Indeed, the audience becomes a part of the Resisters’ army. They receive Magno (magnetic liquid) to fire at helicopters and learn how to help wounded actors. They are also invited to partake in creating the show’s accompanying percussion and rhythm. “Part of the reason I’ve made it so interactive and physical,” says Haverty, “is to point out how teens have an active role in their destiny.”