A Timely Series Mixes Laughter With Non-Violent Communication Modeling Between People Who Seem Alien to One Another
LOS ANGELES, CA / ACCESSWIRE / April 16, 2021 / In a world that appears to be more polarized than ever, how can we learn how to communicate and collaborate with people who have different perspectives? Down The Middle, a brand new comedy series created by Michelle Lee Barton and Heather Dowling (in partnership with David Fickas and Brice Beckham of Drama 3/4 Productions) has aimed to address just such a gap, with its roots built from the idea that comedy can help all to soften and open to the possibilities of new levels of communication with one another. Down The Middle began as improvised recordings between friends Barton and Dowling as they pursued their acting and writing goals together.
As the two discovered their odd-couple chemistry, they saw a story to tell about partnership and working with people you don’t understand, or maybe can’t even stand to be around, sometimes. “I was inspired to create something with Heather that was authentic to our voices and that highlighted the comedy that lives inside our very real friendship as we navigated being vision and accountability buddies in Los Angeles,” said Barton.
“This was meant to be a fun project for us, exploring how two people as different as she and I could be empowering partners for one another,” said Dowling. “But when my friends David and Brice at Drama 3/4 read the rough drafts for the two-person series we were planning to shoot, they found the premise highly entertaining and wanted to create a much bigger world.” The new show streamed virtually with cast and crew in attendance, including beloved television host – and one of the stars of the show – Tom Bergeron.
“The opportunity to act rather than host is one of the things that appealed to me. It’s the first time in years I haven’t thrown to a commercial while on camera,” said Bergeron, when asked about his role in the series. “Working with an energized and inventive team was great fun. ‘Rex’ pops up from various, sometimes exotic locations during the series, but I rarely moved more than 50 yards. Movie magic!”
Bergeron plays “Rex,” the lovable, somewhat eccentric owner of a boutique ad agency and father of “Aurora,” played by Barton. The boss of the ad agency’s operations manager, “Karen,” is played by fellow developer Heather Dowling. Karen, an uptight workaholic who lives for her job at a boutique advertising agency, finds herself at odds with Aurora (a bohemian trust fund baby who has never had to punch a clock) when Aurora’s father – and owner of the agency – announces his surprise retirement and leaves the company in the hands of this polar opposite pair. Will these two find a way to work together or will they destroy the “golden goose” that has funded Aurora’s shamanic journeys and been Karen’s dream job from the beginning?
The premise is an important one, centering on the relatable idea of “odd couples” in a frequent art-mimic-life scenario that’s often realized in everyday life. Whether at work, in school, or online, Barton and show producer Jennifer Clymer believe that their story will turn a lens towards the importance of non-violent communication in a light-hearted way that underscores reception. Developed in the 1990s by Marchall Rosenberg, non-violent communication (NVC) is based on the assumption that compassionate communication yields different results than uncompassionate communication – and that these differences have a significant impact on both individual and societal levels.
“Down the Middle is a comedy about listening and compromise at a time when we need it the most,” says Clymer. “Not only is Down the Middle important as a reflection of how we can grow if we look past our immediate differences and beliefs, but it’s important just for the laughter that it will bring.”
About Pulvis Solaris Productions
Michelle Lee Barton founded the aptly-named Pulvis Solaris from the idea that Red Pulvis Solaris – an ingredient in the 7th stage of alchemy – turns lead to gold the moment it’s added. A perfect encapsulation of the production company’s mission, Pulvis Solaris is dedicated to storytelling that transforms and ignites potent shifts in perspectives, calling forth a socially integrated global community while captivating niche audiences. For more information on Michelle Lee Barton and Down The Middle, visit Instagram or Twitter – or head to downthemiddleseries.com.
Michelle Lee Barton
SOURCE: Pulvis Solaris Productions