Shane Koyczan – When I Was A Kid – Belfry SPARK Festival

Stuffies litter the stage at the Belfry Theatre, scattered among musical instruments – a bass, cello, keyboard and guitar – belonging to The Short Story Long, back up band for celebrated wordsmith Shane Koyczan. We’re here at one of five sold-out shows during SPARK Festival, waiting in great anticipation for “the man” himself to appear.

Shane Koyczan - When I Was A Kidimage provided by Belfry Theatre

I was first introduced to Shane’s spoken word masterpiece “We Are More” standing in the rain in Centennial Square with my new love, watching the Olympic Games opening ceremonies unfold.

 “But, we are more

than genteel or civilized

we are an idea in the process

of being realized….”

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 This populist poem was followed by “Be a Hero”, a BC Transit commission to encourage ridership.

When I Was A Kid might conjure visions of “sunshine, lollipops and rainbows” or unicorns (a recurring image), but Koyczan’s storytelling has a much darker undertone.

Born  in Yellowknife to young parents, and raised by grandparents, he tells tales of “freaks” on the bottom of the social ladder, first crushes, first loves, monsters under the bed, and outwitting the bullies that taunt him endlessly.

His heroes are everyday people – a double-mastectomy breast cancer survivor, his grandfather in hitched up boxers and red T shirt coming to the rescue during episodes of night terror, the border guard urging him on to audition success.

Peeling back the scab on old wounds, manifesting his grandmother’s dictum “You’ll live”, he reveals healthy skin beneath.

Moved to tears, we learned about reaching beyond yourself, living NOW and anchoring memories so strongly you can’t help but remember the words to express them.

During  the “wine and beer” reception, band members informed me that this iteration of The Short Story Long began playing together quite recently (new additions Jesse Lee on stand up bass and Jordie Robinson on cello join long-standing collaborators Maiya Robbie – guitar, and Olivia Mennell – keyboard), making their musical stylings and counter-point all the more impressive.

Hear more here.

“(Koyczan) touches such delicate places (with empathy) you can’t help but walk away strengthened”.  Frans Jonker

I’m left with the image of word soup, bathed in a rich broth of phrases, images and music, struggling to isolate individual ingredients and tastes, I savour each mouthful and remain deeply satisfied.

When I Was A Kid at the Belfry Theatre SPARK Festival is now sold out, but the theatre is taking a wait-list. Call 250-385-6815 for more information.

There is a show in Duncan on Sunday March 25th at the Duncan Garage Showroom. It is definitely worth the drive to experience this show in a small intimate (60 seat) venue.

Disclaimer:  I was offered complimentary tickets to attend When I Was a Kid. I was not paid to write a review nor was I required to do so. As always, I retain editorial control over all the content published on this blog.

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.

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