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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Liminal idEntities is a surrealist constellation of playlets

Hanlon Uafás-Álainn takes audiences "on a tour of existential suffering that begins in hell and spans timelines and alternate realities" in Liminal idEntities at this year's Halifax Fringe Festival.

Hanlon Uafás-Álainn returns to the Halifax Fringe Festival for the fifth time in his one-person show Liminal idEntities, taking audiences “on a tour of existential suffering that begins in hell and spans timelines and alternate realities.”

My shows are not for everyone. They are not escapism. But they acknowledge the struggle of being a person and how people are expected to show up differently and often inauthentically in their lives for the comfort of others.

We learn more in this Q&A with writer and performer Stephen Uafás-Álainn.

Liminal idEntities plays as part of the 2023 Halifax Fringe Festival at Neptune Theatre’s Imperial Room from August 31-September 10. Visit the Halifax Fringe ticket outlet for tickets and information.

Content warning: This show contains mild depictions of violence, suffering, and descriptions of suicidal ideation.

This interview has been edited.

Tell us about Liminal idEntities. What can audiences expect?

Liminal idEntities is a one-undead-man-show narrated by George the demon/zombie. Like most other characters, George is played by playwright Hanlon Uafás-Álainn as he takes audience members, the captive souls, on a tour of existential suffering that begins in hell and spans timelines and alternate realities. There is a suicide booth for ending suffering in the future. There is a family mantra for facing the end of the world. There is a visitation in the form of a trans man’s former lover. Other characters are performed using the magic of projections by Toronto-based actors, the luminous Kiara-Kumail and former Halifax Fringe performer and Nova Scotia native Karla Rae James.

What inspired Liminal idEntities?

Honestly, I had a bunch of short plays or scenes – many either inspired by my own life as a trans theatre artist with chronic depression or things I’ve heard about from friends – sitting in a drawer, and I wanted to perform them as an evening. I noticed that they were all plays about some form of suffering – mentally – and how people approach that both from the inside and the outside of the situation. I worked with my mentor, Sunny Drake, a little bit on it, and we discussed the structure of having a narrator tie them together, so George seemed the obvious choice. This workshop version of the play for Fringe is a bit shorter, so it doesn’t include every space but spans many of them in a way that allows folx to go on a journey.

Why this particular show now?

This show is about the end of the world; it’s about facing demons from within and reacting to the horrifying news of right-wing fascism and Trumpism. It’s about all the stuff bothering me and so many other people right now. I’m pumped to share it with others and enter into the conversations it may stimulate. I’m excited to bring it to the Fringe because it feels very personal and almost frighteningly so.

What do you hope audiences leave Liminal idEntities talking about?

I hope audiences leave talking about their own fears and how to face them, cope with them and also how to feel the feelings they need to feel right now. I want them to share the relief of having someone tell the truth – even if it is a demon. I want them to have conversations about Medical Assistance In Dying (MAID) and the mental health crisis and perhaps have some ideas that they didn’t have before about how we approach mental health crises and those afflicted with this type of chronic pain.

Why should someone come to see Liminal idEntities?

My shows are not for everyone. They are not escapism. But they acknowledge the struggle of being a person and how people are expected to show up differently and often inauthentically in their lives for the comfort of others. And our pretend show is for people looking for a window of truth. It is meant to be loving, occasionally playful, and perhaps uncomfortably honest. So if that’s something you want to experience for 40 minutes, this show is for you. Also, Stephen Uafás-Álainn is experimenting with projections using an old-school overhead projector that may also take you back to elementary school.

Liminal idEntities plays as part of the 2023 Halifax Fringe Festival at Neptune Theatre’s Imperial Room from August 31-September 10. Visit the Halifax Fringe ticket outlet for tickets and information.

The Halifax Fringe Festival returns from August 31 through September 10, with more than 60 productions taking place at venues across the city.

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