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Graham Isador - Writer, Actor, Theatre Maker

Your recent show "Situational Anarchy" was about your connection to the music and community around Against Me & especially lead singer Laura Jane Grace. Is Laura Jane aware of the show? Have you heard anything from her?  
I’ve interviewed Laura on a handful of occasions for work. I don’t think she knows who I am exactly, but she’s been polite enough to give the acknowledgement head nod every time we’ve been in the same room. The last interview we did we were talking specifically about the play. I was trying to explain how it’s not a story about her, but rather my relationship with her. She was cautiously optimistic and very encouraging, if a little confused by the idea.  For the remount her publicist is figuring out when  Laura is going to get a chance to see the show. That idea is exciting and terrifying.  
How do you sensitively deal with a story that also prominently features another person, especially a famous person?
There was a really great quote by Mike Birbiglia where he says as a storyteller you can only really save one person. Sometimes not even that.  If you’re the type of person who does this work, everything is fodder. Because nobody cares if you’re not sharing secrets. I think that it’s responsibility to speak to my own experience. I think it’s also my responsibility not to be harmful to people. I try to make myself the center of the things I share on stage. I try not to make fun of other people or tell their stories. My success varies depending on the performance. 
Lots of people have written things about Laura. I’m not the first person to turn their back on the band and then find them again.  The only thing I have to offer is my perspective. For whatever reason I’m compelled to do that. 
When did you know what the show was "about"? Did this affect how you wrote/structured it? 
There have been various incarnations of Situational Anarchy floating around for a couple of years. I worked on the script as a part of the playwright unit at Soulpepper. I performed shorter versions of the story on shows in Toronto. The script became what it is thanks to my directors Tom Arthur Davis and Jiv Parasram. They pushed me to include more of my personal story in the piece and helped shape everything. We spent a lot of time digging and talking. I wrote the piece. I performed it. But both Tom and Jiv are co-creators without a doubt.  They brought it to life and helped me pin what I actually wanted to say.
What inspires you to turn an incident in your life a story? Do you have that “story instinct” right away/as it is happening or do you realize much later than an incident is a story? 
I live my life to be talked about later. I have trouble being in the moment because of that. It’s a weird form of narcissism. An ex once told me that the only reason I have sex is so I can masturbate to it later. When she said that I was extremely mad at her. Partly because she was right and partly because it’s a really great line.
What got you started in storytelling?
Not getting enough attention as a child. 
What separates a good story from a great story? 
Have you ever had the meaning of a story change for you over time? If so, how does that affect the story? How does it affect you?
There are things I used to share on stage that I don’t anymore. I’ve had stories that were unfair to other people. I’ve had stories that lost their meaning after I had performed them so many times. It all has to do with perspective. We learn shit as we get older. Feelings change. Sometimes it’s interesting to revisit a piece with a different level of experience, but mostly I’d rather just do something new. I’m not in a place where people are expecting things from me. If I’m not attached to something I’m saying on stage anymore, I don’t say it.
What storytellers inspire you and why? 
My friends, mostly. I have an incredible group of peers and I try to work with them regularly. I’m constantly floored by Rhiannon Archer. Helder Brum is instantly likeable on stage. Marsha Shandur can take a nothing event and make it seem like the most interesting thing in the world.
I also believe there is no one who tells stories better than Jillian Welsh. 
As far as people outside the city: Jack Terricloth of the World/Inferno can take a lie and make it into the truth. I don’t know how he does it except that he does it with style.
Have other art forms inspired your storytelling? If so, how? 
The only thing I wanted to do from a young age is front a punk band. Storytelling is what I would be doing between songs if I had any songs to play.
What is one storytelling cliché you would like to see the end of?
People should learn how to show not tell. If a story is doing it’s job, you don’t have to tell a person how to feel about it. They’ll understand on their own. 

You can follow Graham on twitter at @presgang


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