(And yes, that's Victoria Harbor above, Nanaimo below.)
The Nanaimo Fringe Festival is a very small Fringe, as Fringes go, with only 9 shows this year, while others host hundreds. But it was Nanaimo's small size that made it the perfect place to debut my newly revised full length My Stroke of Luck.
Not only did I get the chance to perform, to see every other show that played both weeks, a smorgesbord of storytellers, Zombie love, monologues of George Bernard Shaw, physical comedy and puppets, and meet all the other performers, but most importantly, I had the chance to talk with my audiences, which I cherish!
The audience laughed and some cried as I performed, so it was with gratitude that, with no rush to clear the venue within 15 minutes for the next show, my audiences simply stayed put. So organic, informal Q and A's followed each performance.
Incredibly rewarding, at least as much as performing and sharing my story! Questions about my pathway, my choices, even my regrets abounded. Some shared their experience of hearing my story, others their experiences with stroke, brain injury, dementia, or the positive changes in loved ones after brain injury. One woman talked about her challenge with aphasia: after a stroke, she was left with only two words. "Do you remember what they were?" I asked. She smiled mischeviously, and said, "But I can't tell them to you." Then she whispered, "One began with an S, the other with an F!" Everyone laughed, including her. But of course, there was a time she couldn't have laughed about it. Which we all knew.
The shared humanity was overwhelming, and filled my heart to bursting!
One woman shared that Jill Bolton (author of My Stroke of Insight, name also of her fantastic Ted Talk) inspired her to donate her brain to Harvard for brain research. "Do you know they only get 30 post stroke or brain injury brains a year, and that's not enough." I didn't know (and confess, didn't fact check), but food for thought.
Nanaimo is too small for legit press coverage of Fringe, but the audience more than made up for that! Below, a smattering of the audience reviews posted to My Stroke of Luck or Nanaimo Fringe Websites. (The headline above is from storyteller, Deborah Goldman, one of the 4 Storyteller's Show, who told an amazing, rich story about her mother, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto.)
"My Stroke of Luck is more than a story about a doctor who has a stroke and her path to recovery. It's a story about identity, being a single mom of a special needs child, being a doctor who becomes a patient, having brilliance reduced to a handicap, courage, loss, pain, and ultimate triumph. It's a masterful performance by a very talented woman who has truly found her voice.
"In her one woman show, Diane Barnes portrays a rich cast of characters with amazing clarity, such that the audience is never confused about whether the voice belongs to the doctor, her mother, her therapist, or her teenage son. She sweeps through the full range of human emotions, from pure joy to deep despair. It's a truly memorable performance that transcends what could be a rather mundane story and turns it into art. Go see it if you have the chance. It's at the Nanaimo Fringe Festival for a few more days."
David James Scott
"...Educational, hopeful and inspirational." Marc N Sue
"...Such a gift ..." Sylvia Wende
"Bravo!... every Health care provider and family member affected by a Stroke or aneurysm, come to this performance!" Norma Waddell
Tonight and tomorrow, I perform my last shows here. Then it's on to Victoria, for the Victoria Fringe Festival, with shows 8/25-9/3.
Particularly with the turmoil in the US this last week, I am understanding why my younger son, Takeshi, who spent 12 years in school on Vancouver Island, from 7th grade on, has found such a home away from home.
So have I.
Thank you again, Nanaimo and Vanouver Island, British Columbia (below).