“It’s not easy being green,” sings Kermit the Frog. Anyone who has felt different can appreciate the sentiment. The pressure to conform, or alternatively, to live larger than life as a positive example, can be constant struggle and challenge for self-identity. Finding the balance is a life-long journey. Stéphanie Morin-Robert takes her relationship to her glass eye as the starting point for Me, Myself, & Eye, a piece about accepting oneself and finding one’s place in the world.
“These are 100% true stories as I remember them,” Morin-Robert says. One of the stories recounts the first time she forgets to bring her sunglasses to her new school and her glass eye is knocked out during a game of dodge ball. “I wore the sunglasses so no one would find out,” she says. “No one noticed. But there are stories where people almost find out and where they do find out.”
The glass eye, though, is only the beginning of the journey for Morin-Robert. “There’s a lot more to me than somebody with a glass eye,” she says. Perhaps because of her physical differences, her parents were very protective. “[The show] is about the role I play within my family and how I become this independent and strong person, dealing with the fact that I am different,” she says. “Without giving away too much, I come from a really broken family. My parents still managed to make me feel like a normal child and within the family I was really protected. Outside of that, I was kind of on my own. I faced that when I changed schools in grade 3 and in the middle of a grade. My father became successful in his work and it turned things around, and we moved. I needed to change schools. Faced with reality, I was suddenly faced with people who don’t know who I was, and I needed to find my place within that.”
The show celebrates the monumentality of what seem like tiny transitions. Morin-Roberts comes from Timmins, Ontario. “In the story I move to Porcupine Ontario, up the highway a few kilometers,” she says. “The distance between those two locations seemed so far apart at the time, but it’s like a 10-minute drive.”
The show uses a mix of storytelling and movement. Morin-Robert’s background is in contemporary dance, and she wanted to avoid scripted choreography. “It’s a collision between storytelling and movement. I want it to come from a real place and be slightly different every night and exchange and feed off the audience.”
The movement aspect is important to Morin-Roberts. “It’s recently that I’ve brought in this element of storytelling,” she says. “Movement is a strong and critical way to express myself. Speaking is a huge part of movement. I’m interested in using both my voice and my body to carry the story to the audience.”
In face, movement has been a key in setting Morin-Robert down her career path. “In grade 3, I started dance classes at a recreation level,” she says. “The classes were suggested to me so I could gain awareness of my left side. Dance was given to me as a tool to reconnect with my body and gain coördination and all those simple but important skills that you need to survive. It was a tool. I’m realizing it’s still a tool, but in a different way now.”
It’s the first time I put myself on the stage,” says Morin-Robert. “I have a dance company and usually I choreograph for seven dancers where I give them material, but then it belongs to them. This is me and myself and I and the eye.”
Me, Myself, & Eye is at the Mainline Theatre (3997 St. Laurent) on January 22-25. 8p.m. Additional Saturday show at 4 p.m. $12. Each show includes an opening choreographed or musical act.