From laughter to tears: Uno Fest has it all

Have guitar

Have guitar

Solo artists showcase theatrical storytelling during Intrepid event

With just a guitar and a very personal story, Justin Carter hopes his one-man show will take audiences on an emotional journey.

His poignant and sometimes humorous autobiographical monologue, Son of Africville, is based on a cross-country train trip he took to Halifax where he reunited with his birth mother.

While there he discovered his family’s connection with Africville, the largest and oldest black community in Canada until its destruction in the 1960s.

It’s Carter’s first one-man play, which he only performed on occasion while it was under development.

“It really affects people, which is wonderful,” he said.

He remains incredulous that his script has prompted such an outpouring of emotion. “People cry. That’s the cool thing because people can relate to it on a personal, emotional level.”

Theatrical storytelling is what the 14th annual Uno Fest is about, providing writer-performers with up-close-and-personal access to their audiences – and vice-versa.

“It’s a much more intimate kind of performance,” said Janet Munsil, Uno Fest producer. “It really focuses on the storytelling and the charisma of the performer.”

The event spans 13 performances in 10 days from May 19 to 29, and includes the Monobrow Solo Slam IV monologue contest, two workshops and a screening of the Steven Soderbergh-directed film And Everything Is Going Fine at University of Victoria’s Cinecenta. Four Victoria artists will also perform works-in-progress – admission is by donation – as part of Uno Works this year.

“We know how it is for people getting their start as solo performers,” Munsil said.

The longest-running solo performance festival in North America, Uno Fest attracted 2,600 spectators last year and sold out nearly 90 per cent of the shows.

The lineup includes a variety of styles, from autobiographical monologues to standup comedy to performance poetry, all written as plays but performed by one person.

Carter’s work incorporates a number of elements: he portrays himself, his birth parents and his uncle, while always keeping his guitar at the ready.

“I want people to be entertained, but take the story with them and go, ‘You know, life’s okay.’”

He hopes to one day see Son of Africville become a film.

For now, Carter is excited at publicly baring an important piece of his life during a unique event that showcases the varied talents of monologue artists. “It’s like it was made for an event like this.”

Uno Fest shows take the stage at Metro Studio, 1411 Quadra St. and Intrepid Theatre Club, 1609 Blanshard St. For ticket pricing and scheduling information, please visit www.intrepidtheatre.com or www.ticketrocket.org or call 250-590-6291.

emccracken@vicnews.com