With You by Shawn Pallier
August 11, 14, 17 – 19, 21 at Venue #10: Acacia Hall
An interview with Shawn Pallier.
Describe your show in five words.
What I did with death.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?
With You is about the journey I took after the loss of my mother who took her own life at the Alberta Hospital on April 6, 2000. It follows my path from trying to understand her & her mental illness to my own struggles in a maze of thoughts and actions that I had always hoped would lead to healing.
With You is your story of understanding your mother, her mental illness and her death. Why was theatre the right way to explore this story?
Theatre gives me the ability to express my story in full colour – Not just words in black and white on a page. I felt that just reading it didn’t have the impact that a fully-formed performance would, so I pushed myself to take it beyond just a series of blog entries, which is what it originally was.
Also, performing theatre at the Fringe is a way of getting my message beyond just my circle of friends and family. I wanted to find a way to reach out to those who have struggled and maybe make them feel more at peace.
How has With You evolved over the 15 years you’ve been writing it?
At first, it was all about the fond memories I had with her & how I missed her, so in early scenes it includes a couple of stories that give a small window into her strong, selfless, passionate character. For years, it would seem it was destined to end at her funeral, and a feeling of fault over things left unsaid, and things left undone.
However, as I grew older, I found the need to add to this unfinished work. The story blossomed into my own journey. It became about how I tried to deal with the hurt, anger, and sadness, and how I felt about my perceived failure to have the correct thoughts, the right reactions, and the right relationship with her when she was alive. The most difficult part of the journey is ultimately the one that would set me free: Embracing the past and realizing I can be free of the feelings of hurt, wrongness, and guilt.
What message do you hope to pass on to audiences or post-show conversations would you like With You to inspire?
I hope those who see this performance will no longer feel alone if they have had feelings like mine. To lose someone, not just through suicide, but in any way whatsoever can always feel too soon. If you are grieving or have grieved, I hope I can bring peace of mind and healing to my audience through this piece. Also, I’m surprised to discover already that the small handful of people that have seen it are relating to it in other ways. Those who have suffered with (or know people who have suffered with) physical illnesses and addiction have been able to draw parallels and feel a catharsis from the performance, and I’m glad to hear that.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
I do want people to know that dealing with death isn’t always dark and serious – Sometimes, it can be surreal, funny, and enlightening. I promise to deliver something that will entertain as well as inform, and my true goal is to leave my audience with a feeling of hope and healing.
The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.