Some of you may remember Claire. She’s been featured in my column before. As you may recall, Claire was a ballerina who loved dancing, but the rigours of ballet devastated her body. Not only did Claire’s chronic injuries rob the dancer of her favourite form of expression, they also left her without an identity - ballet had been her life.
Needing to create a new sense of self, Claire decided to move to New Orleans. “I had a job as a waitress that I didn’t mind leaving, an apartment that I couldn’t afford, and my relationship with my boyfriend was coming to an end. I decided to give myself a new start. I was definitely nervous about moving. I only knew one person who lived in New Orleans – a girl who I had met once for only 30 minutes,” explained the former ballerina.
While in New Orleans, Claire visited St. Anna’s Church where hundreds of names have been printed on the walls. The names are all of the people who have been murdered within the city. At the time, New Orleans had the highest murder rate in the nation. The wall was an incredibly powerful visual for Claire and it sparked the inspiration for Interludes, a play she wanted to write about the meaning of life and death. There was only one slight problem. Claire had never written a play before nor had she acted.
But that didn’t deter her. She enrolled in dramatic arts and learned how to create rich, humane characters. Next, she found a director, a set designer, hired an eight-piece orchestra to add a jazzy New Orleans sound to Interludes and she raised $5,000 from a crowd funding project to bankroll her creation.
Because Claire takes her audience deep into the human soul and shines a light on the source of our passions, our violence, our pain and our joy, Interludes got noticed. It was selected to show at New York City’s prestigious Fringe Festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary Aug. 12-28. Interludes was performed four times and received excellent reviews. All this from someone who felt her life was over when she could no longer dance.
I know Claire personally and I’ve told her that the story of how much she put into creating Interludes could be a play. After all, she left the familiarity of her home for post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, a city she had visited only once and where her only acquaintance was essentially a stranger. Then, she went to great lengths to become a playwright, actor and producer. The story of how Interludes came to be written is as life-affirming as the play’s message.
And Interludes is a play that shares a profound truth: the things in life you find are worth living for are usually also what are worth dying for.