So how did it go ? offers a candid, emotional and humorous look at pandemic life in Stratford

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New Works Festival review on So how did it go?

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” So how did it go ? “

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As a journalist, this question, or a variation of it, has been one of my favorite topics of conversation for the past 18 months.

It’s a simple question, but it gives the people I talk to the freedom to open up about whatever matters most to them. Often times I would get a quick response, usually with the phrase “But I can’t complain” before changing the subject to the topic of the day I was writing about.

For the show by Liza Balkan, So how did it go ? – presented as part of the Here for Now Theater Company’s New Works Festival – the Dora Award-winning director, singer, writer, educator and actor explored this question in depth through dozens of recorded interviews with parents, Stratford children, grandparents, husbands, wives, business owners, artists, newcomers and more in a bid to capture scraps of life during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic last year .

These conversations, parts of which can be heard before, after and during the show, were then transformed into brilliantly written songs composed primarily by Paul Shilton – who also plays piano and double bass and is the musical director of the show – with a few additional songs written by Katherine Wheatley and Bruce Horak.

Interspersed with pieces composed from their own conversations with Balkan, Stratford artists Marcus Nance, Barbara Fulton, Evangelia Kambites and Trevor Patt together weave the songs and stories of those interviewed into a musically poetic tapestry depicting life disrupted by the pandemic. of Stratford residents in a single year.

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As the songs tackle issues I’ve heard, experienced firsthand, and written over and over again over the past 18 months – whether it’s financial hardship, relationship breakdown, isolation, fear about the unknown, balancing homework and caring for the kids, or even a goose poo song that struck a particularly fun chord with locals – Balkan and the performers on stage behind The Bruce Hotel manage to bring these recorded words to life in a way that highlights the experiences shared by all Stratford residents, and even those beyond the city limits can connect and understand.

Although many interviews describe conflicts at the individual level, Nance and Kambites make sure to put the collective efforts of the Black Lives Matter movement center stage through a dark, lyrical and poignant and funny exploration of their own experiences of fear. and fanaticism in the city they call home, connecting these experiences to the larger movement against racism and hatred against blacks and other racialized people that garnered so much international attention during the pandemic.

It is especially fitting that in a city like Stratford, with such a reputation for drama, this monumental and seemingly endless trial that is the COVID-19 pandemic is remembered and told through music and art.

So how did it go ? will perform on stage at the New Works Festival until September 5. For tickets, visit www.herefornowtheatre.com/so-hows-it-been.

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