Wednesday, 16 September 2015 15:54

Interludes and the decision to see myself for myself

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It's an honour I never expected.


That’s how I would describe watching Interludes, a one-woman play written and performed by New York City playwright Claire Sargenti.
I attended a recent showing in Manhattan and one of the characters was based on me.
To tell the story correctly, you need to know that I first met Claire in January of 2013. We were in New Orleans for different, yet similar reasons. I had canoed there from Saskatchewan to spread my uncle’s ashes. She was there to write a play.
After an injury ended her career as a ballerina, Claire needed to find a new art form that wouldn’t demand such a heavy toll on her body.
She tried different artistic genres, but none beckoned her. Searching for a creative outlet, she remembered a short trip she had taken to New Orleans one year before in 2012.
While she was there, Claire toured St. Anna’s Church where she saw the names of hundreds of victims written on the walls.
Stabbed, shot, burned — the murdered citizens were remembered with an inscription bearing their name.
The grim list gave an identity to the people who once lived, loved and cried in the city with the nation’s highest homicide rate.
This powerful visual stung Claire, but also sparked the inspiration that would become her play. She needed to understand how a city with so much food, music and life could also have so much death.
Answering that question would help her discover an art form that would ease the pain of no longer being able to dance ballet. A year after her tour of St. Anna’s, Claire was back in New Orleans to write Interludes. 
Claire and I met in January 2013 and our common ground was that we were both in New Orleans to try to make sense of death.
Although she was still mostly a stranger, I invited her to the ceremony where I spread my uncle’s ashes. She would understand it. That much I knew about her.
What I didn’t know is that she would include a character named Canoe Boy in her play. She only revealed that to me after I left New Orleans and had returned to Canada.
Now it’s Aug. 29, 2015 and I’m in NYC to see Claire’s play. There are 12 characters and she does all of them.
I’m anxious to know how she’ll portray me and how I appear to her.
The lights go dim and Claire emerges from the dark crowd. She walks onto the stage dressed as one of the characters and begins a monologue. When that character is done talking, Claire changes costumes and becomes someone else.
I feel a mixture of curiosity and nervous energy as she transitions from character to character until she begins a monologue sitting in a canoe holding a vial of ashes. My emotions intensify.
Canoe Boy clings to the vial with both hands and doesn’t spread the ashes. He says he wants to keep his uncle all to himself. In real life, I did spread my uncle’s ashes in New Orleans, but only because that’s what I had promised to do and not because I felt ready to say good-bye.
In the way she portrayed my character, Claire so eloquently captured my feeling of not wanting to part with my uncle. Seeing this on stage made hot tears stream into my beard.
Fortunately, the theatre was dimly lit and no one saw.
To learn more about Interludes, I invite you to visit the website www.nolainterludes.com.
(Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Sask. to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. For more information about his speaking engagements, phone 306-661-8975 or visit www.canoetoneworleans.com.)

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Dominique Liboiron

Dominique Liboiron is a speaker, author, teacher, journalist and photographer. To raise awareness about heart disease and to honour the life of one of its victims, Liboiron canoed from Saskatchewan to New Orleans. He is the first person to undertake that journey. He enjoys outdoor sports such as camping, hunting, fly fishing and canoeing.