FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LÉONIESAYS PRODUCTIONS PREMIERES AT THE ST. AMBROISE-MONTREAL FRINGE FESTIVAL
Rosie Peregrine-Black’s Sleeping In Chairs At The Gates Of Valhalla
LéonieSays Productions To Premiere Lyrical, Raw Heartbreaking Account of Love, Loss and Mono at the St. Ambrose-Montreal Fringe Festival
In its premiere performance, protagonist Rosie Peregrine takes the audience through the tragic, frustrating, often absurd and sometimes humorous ordeal of life as a bedside observer in the Intensive Care Unit, as her soulmate Adrian Black fights a losing battle against The Mono That Stole Christmas. Sleeping In Chairs At The Gates Of Valhalla is a tale of love to the very end, and beyond.
THE SECRET IDENTITY OF MONO; or, The Truth Behind The Story
Everybody’s heard of mono. It’s the kissing disease, the dread of the schoolyard, the scourge of first-year college students. But mononucleosis is also known by another name: the Epstein Barr virus. In most people, Epstein Barr does cause mono, and they consider themselves very unlucky. Once you have it, you have it forever, although, barring a significantly impaired immune system, your body remembers its antibodies and squashes any new revolt Sometimes, though, the virus doesn’t do that. Instead, it causes lymphoma. This is what happened to Joshua Blakney, the real-life inspiration for Sleeping In Chairs.
Josh was my soul mate. That word gets bandied around a lot, in a cheesy, romantic movie kind of way. It can be hard to take seriously. This was not that. Josh was the twin I’d always know, deep down, I was supposed to have. He was my best friend and my education and he changed my life just by being in it.
Josh had beaten cancer twice by the time I met him: non-Hodgekin’s lymphoma at age seven, and stage 4 Burkitt’s lymphoma eleven years later at eighteen. When I met him in 2015 he was 28. His 29th birthday passed without incident, and no little relief that after another eleven years the cancer hadn’t reared its head a third time. Life carried on. I applied for the fringe circuit, and got accepted for Montreal. I started writing a play about masks, a two-person show that Josh and I would act in together. Then, in early December, Josh got sick.. He started running fevers that peaked at 105.6F, or 41C the night I drove him to the emergency room a week after it all began. He was admitted despite a preliminary diagnosis of mono, because of his history with cancer, and then kept in hospital as the virus progressively worked its way through his liver. This is one of the rarer side effects of mono, and the long-term effects his chemo treatments had had on his immune system only made it worse. Two weeks after first being admitted, Josh crashed hard on his way to a liver transplant, and spent the last six days of his life in a medically induced coma battling his own immune system, which had overreacted to the virus in his body and turned against itself, attacking his liver, kidneys, bone marrow and brain. He died on January 2nd, 2016
I was with him the whole time. As his hastily-appointed temporary decision maker (for the duration of the coma, the hospital needed someone to say yeah or nay to treatments and he named me), it was my decision to not pursue CPR when the swelling in his brain caused his heart to stop. At that point, nothing mechanical will fix what’s wrong. It was my decision to unhook him from the various machines keeping him alive. I held him as he died.
Obviously, after this, a play about masks was not uppermost in my mind. As a way of coping with grief, I started a blog called After Adrian (www.afteradrian.wordpress.com), using Josh’s pen name and creating one of my own. And I wrote this play.
Grief is universal, and yet its presence in our society is minimal at best. People do not want to talk about it. They do not want to hear it, see it, feel the weight of its terrifying and inevitable possibility brush against their own lives. I can’t tell anyone else how to take this journey; everyone deals differently, and grief has many forms and paths. I can however, tell my story, and Joshua’s, and, maybe, help people understand that they are not alone.
Incidentally, fun yet morbid fact: the thing they fly embalmed bodies in is called a Calgary Liner, and lots like a length of ducting. For extra money, you can even get a window. What this has to do with Calgary I do not know, and nor, it seems, does anyone else.
Theatre/Performing Arts/ St. Ambrose-Montreal Fringe Festival
Léonie Armstrong, Mononucleosis
Saturday June 11 @ 4:00 PM (Opening Show)
Sunday June 12 @ 1:15 PM
Monday June 13 @ 8:15 PM
Tuesday June 14 @ 11:30 PM
Friday June 17 @ 1:45 PM
Saturday June 18 @ 10:15 PM
Montreal Improv Theatre (Venue 7) | 3697 Blvd. St. Laurent | Montréal, QC H2X 2V7
$8-$10 plus Festival Fee
Ticket information available at http://montrealfringe.ca/about/buying-tickets/
Discounts available for students and seniors.
ABOUT LÉONIESAYS PRODUCTIONS
LéonieSays Productions is a project of actress, writer and poet Léonie Armstrong. It was formed in 2013. The company has presented two previous Fringe productions, at the Vancouver and Victoria festivals: Unexpected Guests: an attempted conspiracy of mythological proportions, and BEAT: A Mystery. This will be it’s third year on the fringe circuit.
‘Creator Léonie Armstrong is a smart writer…Armstrong crafts individualized voices for both her protagonist and the mysterious character of Great Uncle Eugene…BEAT is a lyrical treat.’
-Amy Smart, Times Colonist
Léonie Armstrong, Artistic Mastermind
(778)-986-1647 | firstname.lastname@example.org