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Q & A with Lisa Baran of STILL/FALLING

In preparation for our live reading of STILL/FALLING by Rachel Aberle on May 7, we chatted with performer Lisa Baran about her experiences performing the show and how she is supporting her mental health during these challenging times.

In STILL/FALLING, Lisa plays Nina, a teenager coming to terms with what it means to struggle with anxiety and depression, and to rise above it with as much strength, and as few scars, as possible.

The live reading of STILL/FALLING will take place at 1 pm PST on May 7, 2020 as a part of #CanadaPerforms, an initiative to highlight the work of live performance artists during the COVID-19 pandemic. Details can be found here.

STILL/FALLING is recommended for ages 13+ . The content of this play may prove to be an intense experience for some viewers.

Many thanks to #CanadaPerforms, Facebook, Slaight Music, RBC Foundation, SiriusXM Canada and National Arts Centre / Centre national des Arts for this opportunity to share STILL/FALLING.

We hope to to see you there!

Q & A with actor Lisa Baran

What is something you have learned in the process of performing STILL/FALLING?

I think the biggest thing I've learned is just how universal the feelings of being alone in the world are. Even if someone isn't dealing with the same level of anxiety that the character Nina is, I found that most people can relate to the idea of feeling like a “freak” or that nobody understands what they are going through. It was interesting to me to see how this story would manifest in my own life and taught me, or rather is still teaching me, how to communicate with others when I'm feeling that way because more often than not, someone can relate which immediately relieves some of the worry.

Also, bring your own towels when touring.....that hotel/motel bleach will destroy your skin.

What is your favourite part about performing STILL/FALLING?

All of it. This is a toughie. I really love the show right off the top when Nina is first introduced. There are already a bunch of turns for her in that first scene, and I enjoy navigating them through the first page of the script. I also have lots of fun in the cloud scene getting to play all the high school students, reminds me of my group of friends at that age. And of course through to the end when it gets more intense for Nina. This show really is an actors dream, it's a real workout and so satisfying to perform all the way through.

Finally, I always really love the talkbacks at the end. It's the only time I really get feedback on the audience experience and I enjoy being able to be a witness to their experiences, sharing my own, and simply connecting on a level that you usually wouldn't get while doing a show. I've had some very open, brave, and memorable conversations that I will cherish forever. The talkback always reminds me how much I needed content on this topic during my high school years.

What is something that audiences may find surprising about the show?

I think audiences would be surprised by how funny the show actually (hopefully) is. Obviously, it covers some pretty intense subject matter, but it's also an accurate reflection of a “normal” 15 year old girl and the trials and tribulations that go along with being that. I asked my roommate this question and she said “how many characters there are” which I hadn't thought about. Yes, it's only me acting in the show, but Rachel Aberle did an amazing job encapsulating the people that surround and support Nina. It's fun to see how they all interact to tell the story.

What is something you are doing during this time of isolation to stay connected/support your mental health?

The biggest thing for me has been a combination of doing yoga/exercise as soon as I wake up which helps set me up for the day. Also, going for a daily walk and/or sitting in a park and reading. Calling my mom or my sister or my friends. I was supposed to go home (Winnipeg) right when things were shutting down to visit my new nephew, so facetiming with my sister and him has been important. I'm honestly privileged in that slowing down hasn't been too much of a challenge for me, I think I naturally flourish at a slower pace and am really appreciating the quality time I'm getting with myself and the opportunities to connect more with others who have more free time. All that being said, sunny days are way easier for me than rainy or cloudy.

Mental health is something I'm very serious about, so I've figured out routines that work for me when I'm struggling. There is an instagram account called “Holisticism” that I love. It might be a little hippie dippy but during this time the founder is offering free classes on everything from classes on business to a workshop on reiki. I found that it adds a bit of structure to my day and feels like I'm being productive even if I'm learning about something I might never use. I highly recommend!

Anything else you would like to add?

Just that it's a really amazing show and I feel so honoured to be the one that gets to share it right now. Hope everyone reading this is staying healthy and as happy as possible and remember, it's not shameful, sad, humiliating, demeaning or anything else to seek help if or when you need it.

Posted on

May 3, 2020