The first time I met Dan, we sat in a café to discuss how we could work together on a theatre show of some kind. We had recently been successful in having a work-in-progress concept accepted a season of shows in Sydney, and, as we talked, it became clear that I was going to be writing this show about my own experiences called “Sam I Am”.
Earlier this year, I revisited the script of “Sam I Am” to do a Melbourne season during Midsumma Festival in collaboration with Antipodes Theatre Company. Rewriting the script gave me an opportunity to unpack what my intentions were. I realised that my intention was to express a raw, honest and authentic story about the complexities of my intersectional Gay/Queer and hearing/deaf identities with the hope of impacting one person.
Putting my personal experience on the stage was terrifying. The thought of doing it for three nights in a row made it worse. However, I would be lying if I said it was only terrifying.
The last show of “Sam I Am” was extremely special because my family and some other close people had flown to attend. This was the most personal performance of my life. I looked eye to eye at these people when I was mentioning them in the show. When I had a special part about my mum and looked her eyes, I started crying. As the tears flowed down my cheeks, I looked at mum and, in that moment, it was just her and I.
There was something immensely cathartic about the experience. Having my friends, family, colleagues and more come to watch me express some of my deepest intimate experiences and biggest fears has allowed me to live a little more freely.
The Melbourne season of “Sam I Am” is built on the metaphor of packing. Whilst the storyline is literally packing to move, it’s more so a journey of me unpacking moments of my life. Reliving the beauty and pain that life is. It’s saying “in a world that tells you to be something, be yourself”. Cheesy, I know, but it’s true! Be yourself! Embrace each and every part of you and the many identities you have. Find pride, community and belonging in your identities. Most importantly, give yourself time.
I hope my story empowers, inspires and/or motivates others to share their own. Stories that make others feel a sense of connection and belonging. We are all storytellers in our own way and not all of them need to be told through theatre. Maybe your story should be told through film, photography, drawing, dance or another artform. Or perhaps it’s just at a dinner with friends. Our stories are powerful and impactful regardless of how they’re told.