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My Gay Toronto - 416 Scene

Oasis Love guides the way through heartbreak

BY DREW ROWSOME  -

"You're allowed to be angry. Be obsessed. Be hurt," says actor/playwright Johnny Salib. "It's an event that happens to everyone. You have to, quote, unquote, go through the forms of grief. But  you have to learn how to not be the victim."

Salib's play Oasis Love explores, "the ending of a relationship and what do you do after. There is commentary about how you need to look back and reflect, learn the warning signs." It is material that could be dark and heavy and Salib's theatre company, Sisyphean Productions, has a heavy, dark name. Fortunately their mandate is to "talk about stories, shared experiences, through various mediums." Preferred mediums include, as well as clowning and projections, music.

Salib has been writing scores for film and stage since, "I was 13 or 14 but now I'm connecting music to theatre without creating musical theatre. Keeping the emotion without creating spectacle." Oasis Love is a one man show that, "originally featured songs between every scene."  Despite accolades from the Hamilton Fringe Festival where Oasis Love debuted, "the piece has been revisited, honing in on what it's about." There is still music but less making, "it more intimate and direct. It breaks the fourth wall and communicates directly with the audience. Creates a dialogue."

With Salib being both the playwright and the performer, one has to wonder how autobiographical Oasis Love is. "It's a mixture of personal experience, some stories which happened to me, but I took myself out: this is a piece of art," says Salib. "There's lines in the play where he says, 'This isn't for revenge, it's for people to relate to, I'm afraid to talk about the people in my life, of showing them in a bad light, because it isn't the only light.'"

Buddies is certainly the place in which to recount, "the journey of a love stricken boy as he navigates himself through his first real relationship," and Oasis Love was first workshopped and presented at Pride Cab: Salib is excited to be bringing this incarnation home. And he's eager to impart what he has learned about what we all share. "The character is not a performer, he's a guide."

Oasis Love runs Thurs, Oct 8 to Sat, Oct 10 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St. buddiesinbadtimes.com, sisypheanproductions.com, johnnysalib.com


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