You may recognize Stephanie Morin-Robert as one-half of 2017 Fringe hit, Bushel and Peck, or as one-half of The Merkin Sisters, but Stephanie isn’t just one-half. Her solo show Blindside has toured Fringes across Canada and the USA, winning the awards for Most Outstanding Production at the London Fringe and Outstanding Original Work at the Ottawa Fringe. Blindside will be in Vancouver April 26 to 28 before launching another summer tour. We asked Stephanie to tell us a little more about what to expect from Blindside.
Theatre Wire: Describe your show in five words.
Stephanie Morin-Robert: Personal, intimate, charming, hilarious and just-a-little-gross.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
We all have a little kid inside of us that just wants to be held, but we often create a wall to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable and force ourselves to deal with it in a completely different way. Blindside starts off with my 7-year-old-self having to change schools in the middle of the third grade, one of my most frightening experiences ever. I didn’t tell anyone that I had a glass eye because I was ashamed and insecure. Insecure about something that seemed impossible to change. Until my glass eye started to have a mind of its own by often falling out during the most unpredictable and embarrassing moments. Until I discovered that having a glass eye was more like having an unattractive super power against all bullies and child-hating teachers. Until I starting digging and digging deeper into my childhood memories and put together this show. Until now.
Blindside is based on your own experiences. How did you choose which moments and stories to recount when creating it?
Over the last few years, I have been particularly interested in finding ways to re-connect with my personal experiences through childhood. I’m starting to understand how much our upbringing has an impact on our adulthood and the people we become: an accumulation of moments overlapping each other to create something whole, like the layers of an onion. Memories can be either very strong and vivid or blurry and disconnected. The most interesting challenges of true-life storytelling are the empty gaps we fall into when details are lost or unclear. If we really don’t remember, do we make up how we felt or how others reacted?
When I was two, I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a tumour on the retina of my left eye. I had my eye removed to save my life. At the time, this was a very traumatic situation for everyone in my family…except me! I was young and completely clueless as to how serious and life-changing this really was.
I had many insecurities that I had never dealt with, because I was so used to being surrounded by family and friends who always knew why I was different and were able to see past that. I was protected by my own innocence. And I didn’t have a choice but to be strong at a very young age.
Paradoxically, this is a rich field for storytelling: finding out how much one’s own upbringing is a unique world with a rich cast of characters.
Blindside integrates live video projection, dance, and storytelling. What is the advantage of combining these elements?
As a comedian and choreographer, I use voice and projection as a tool to support a vivid storyline, but I also see it as an extension of the body. I incorporate movement and live video to allow the story to breathe, to expand, to shift, and to trace through time and space. I hope this recipe allows me to make movement, video, and storytelling more accessible and relatable to a larger audience, letting them choose to connect one way or the other.
What do you hope audiences take away from Blindside?
I hope the audiences feels enlightened and finds a stronger desire to allow themselves to be vulnerable when facing what makes them different from the rest of the world.
Oh, and I also hope the audience takes away some of my Blindside merch after the performance.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
What doesn’t kill you, makes you funnier.
Oh, did I mention it’s a comedy?
Blindside runs April 26-28 at Studio 1398, located at 1398 Cartwright Street on Granville Island. Buy tickets now, or purchase tickets to this show and two more and your tickets are automatically discounted to Subscription rates! Check out all the shows that are part of the Subscription here.