The following piece was submitted by Allie Weigh, the creator of Divided Heart. The piece is part of QDF’s series of artist-submitted works detailing experiences creating at the 27th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival.
My show has been called a poetry show (by jem rolls!), a music or violin show, a theatre piece, a memoir, a storytelling show and a spoken word show. Click here for a full interview with showbill.
I have been writing for decades. But also, listening. Listening with focused attun-ement. In addition to mothering 2 people into adulthood, I have worked as a psycho-therapist for 20 years. My most developed skill is deeply listening, understanding, and empathizing. I have done approximately 17 000 psychotherapy sessions over the course of my career. That’s a lot of listening. A lot of receptivity and absorption. Listening to the things that people are not sharing anywhere else. These things are always at risk of getting stuck. In me. While I have always kept a foot in group music and performance, one could say that my solo performances are the result of a kind of alchemy. Performance is one of the happier ways that I transmute the energy that I have taken in through deep listening to others. Click here for a blogpost about alchemy and transmu-tation.
My performance name is Allie Weigh (alleyway) which is a passage, through a continuous row of houses, permitting access from the street to backyards, garages, and to everything that is more private or unsightly or which people want to conceal, or even throw out. Alleyways accumulate garbage. Dog owners are less likely to pick up their dog’s poo in an alleyway. During the day, it is a place for kids to play, and at night, a place to have a sexual encounter or go pee. It is also a place to move, and not get stuck. I am most comfortable and stimulated in environments where the unsightly and unsaid is seen and heard. Anyone who has seen me perform knows this is true.
A woman came up to me after seeing my show and asked if I was alright. She worried that I might be feeling very vulnerable. Not at all! The material from my own life that I use in my show is material which is processed—through years of reflection, writing, my own therapy and talking. Perhaps the show can bring up raw feelings in the audience. I am comfortable in those emotional places but the theme of motherhood and personhood touches absolutely everyone.
What is far more vulnerable for me is just whether the performance is effective. Whether it provides a meaningful or interesting experience for the audience. A long time friend came to my show and afterwards told me that I tell things in a way to manip-ulate the audience into feeling things (a compliment?). My goal is telling the truth. About experience. About life. Not necessarily the literal truth but the experiential truth nonetheless.
The Divided Heart in the show refers to the experience of being a mother and a person at the same time. Click here for a 6 minute video of reflections on motherhood. The wrenching experience of loving little beings, that you brought into the world, that you created, that are
separate from you, completely dependent on you, and going to leave you—-in fact, they leave you a little bit more everyday. It is also about wanting things that you cannot easily have—-time for your own creativity, pleasure, and freedom from responsibility. While the subject is serious, people often laugh during my show (which I love), some-times at new and surprising places, and some people really like the music and the live violin. Click here for my one minute teaser.
Divided Heart runs from June 8th to 18th at Black Theatre Workshop. For ticketing information, click here.