The following piece was submitted by Alyssa Kostello, the creator of A Personal Growth, produced by NOW! Theatre.  The piece is part of QDF’s series of artist-submitted works detailing experiences creating at the 26th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival.

Fringe Festivals can be and mean a lot of things but an important aspect of it that I sometimes forget, is that Fringe is all about taking risks. It’s a safe space to share your work. As I gear up for this year’s Fringe, I remember my very first Fringe Festival which was Montreal in 2011! I remember my friends and I being warmly welcomed and having an insane amount of fun, while learning how to make the most of it and market successfully. We were doing an original show about pursuing your dreams. I didn’t realize it then, but we took a lot of risks that year – six of us touring the fringe circuit right out of school in a 16 passenger van.

This year I return to the Montreal Fringe venturing into the world of storytelling, which is a new artistic medium for me. A whole new set of risks. I’ll be sharing a deeply personal story about my recent experience with cancer. Before I was sick, I didn’t know anything about cancer and that’s partially because anyone who I knew of that had cancer never talked about it. And I discovered pretty late in the game that the cancer journey isn’t over when treatment is over. These two factors have inspired the story I’m telling and made prepping for my show difficult.

It took me longer than anticipated to finish writing it and I realized I wouldn’t have the capacity to memorize it in time. Brent Hirose (my director) helped alleviate that stress and we worked it out as a reading, getting my face off the page whenever possible and making sure I’m being present and connecting to what I’m saying, as well as to the people who choose to share the space with me.

My show is for people who know nothing about the cancer world, for caregivers and health practitioners to get a unique look into the patient experience, but also for people who’ve gone through it and want to be reminded that they’re not alone. I strongly believe there is a great healing power in talking and sharing experiences and emotions – so this show may be beneficial for my own healing but I hope it will also inspire others.

I’m excited to be premiering my show A Personal Growth at the Fringe, a safe space to take risks!

A Personal Growth plays from June 9th-19th at Montreal Improv (3697 St-Laurent). For showtimes and tickets, check out the FRINGE website!

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