Sometimes, you just never know when someone will say something to brighten your everyday. That happened more than once during my recent tour of Jewnique, my solo show. In Calgary, Ottawa and Blue Mountain Resort, I met folks who saw my show and shared such glowing sentiments with me, it made up for the bubbling anxiety I felt in my chest each time I thought Oh boy, time to perform an hour of memorized spoken word for a room full of strangers.
One Ottawa man told me, “If I had you as a history teacher, I would’ve paid more attention in school.” Another woman told me, after my performance at the Calgary Jewish Book Festival, that what I was doing was remarkable, truly remarkable, and I should definitely bring Jewnique to the Fringe Festival (don’t worry, I’m on it). Several attendees told me it was impressive how I painted scenes so vivid, they forgot they were in a social hall and were transported to the scenes I painted in the show, such as Syria in the 70s, or a concentration camp, or a mikvah’s calm waters.
When I look back at the sparkling moments of my tour, those compliments shine bright, much like the kudos I heard when I debuted Jewnique in Toronto earlier this year. It’s not just the quick euphoria of an ego boost; to be validated by those who have no relationship to me beyond spending an hour watching me tell the story of my relationship to Judaism…I feel a great deal of nachas knowing my work has touched them in some way.
And it’s a great feeling to know I’ve accomplished what I set out to do: Create a piece of art I can be proud of, from its first-draft iteration in May to the final touches I gave it in October. While I’ve always admired the journalistic work I’ve done, for a long time I never felt that same glow around some of poetry work (even though I created little new work in the past six years, due to the heavy obligations of running Toronto Poetry Slam and an online news network).
Now with Jewnique, and the kind words bestowed upon me by strangers, I feel a deeper confidence in creating theatre work I’m excited to stage for more audiences. Jewnique is just the beginning and rest assured I’ll be leaping back on stages to see what else is burning inside me that deserves to taste air.
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