I came to know Graham Isador as a storyteller through a previous SummerWorks show Situational Anarchy. When I interviewed him for a follow up performance of that show, he discussed why he’s drawn to storytelling. “It’s a balance between a selfish need to show off and a desperate need to be understood… When I make someone feel something, and I know that I’ve done it, it is the best feeling in the world. Partly that is… also because maybe their reaction means my stupid head that I live inside isn’t so alien after all.”
I’ve been a fan of his storytelling style ever since. As Isador addresses at the start of …And You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next, stories are a way for us to present ourselves to the world. They are a means for us to present our true selves, good or bad. In this SummerWorks performance, he shares personal stories he previously pitched to an editor of BuzzFeed. Some stories never quite meet the editor’s expectations, while other more ‘dark and personal’ ones do. This makes you think, is someone else’s misery what society craves these days? Do we live in a world that demands and exploits sadness and vulnerability? Sadly, the answer is often “yes”.
As such, we hear various stories from Isador’s childhood, teenage years, and adulthood make their way to the editor. Some are funny; some are sad/funny; and others, painful. Nonetheless, Isador still adds elements of humour into his stories… no matter, how sad and painful. Isador tries to address whether we, at times turn ourselves into even sadder people in order to meet society’s expectations, or to manipulate how others ‘see us’. It is an interesting look at what the world is craving and how editors drive this need for vulnerability and pain. Essentially, turning these very personal stories into clickbait.
The show’s director Jiv Parasram and Isador opted for the show’s style to omit flashy sets or costumes. They simply use some background music “for emotional manipulation”. I’d venture to say the musical interludes are unnecessary, but this does not make or break the flow. Isador’s delivery style deliberate. It may not be everyone’s ‘cup of tea’, but given the themes in his stories, it works very well.
The main reason to experience …And You’ll Never… is the stories. To partake in this communal experience. The time spent listening, laughing, maybe even crying at what you hear is what is essential. If you take anything way… if Isador makes you think twice about how we consume others’ personal stories, then he has succeeded. And you’d have gained some insight as well.
The next SummerWorks performances are Friday August 17th, 10:00pm and Saturday August 18th, 9:00pm. For advance tickets, visit summerworks.ca.