Storyteller Alexandria Patience immediately sets the intimate, conversational tone of My Home Canada & My Home-Home Scotland by removing her shoes and greeting the audience. Although slow to warm up, Patience settles in to the rhythm of her storytelling which blends humour, music and musings on what it means to belong to a community or to a place. Speaking in her native Doric dialect, she commands the audience’s full attention whilst emphasising the role that language and dialect play in establishing connections and formulating first impressions, and the role that this has had within her own life and experience.
The show is split into different sections, each named for a different body part, which correlate with and examine different moments in Patience’s life and the role that language has played in each. Progressing chronologically, Patience tracks her adoption of different dialects, from Doric to Scots, Scots to English, and English to Canadian, focusing on the isolation and disconnect she felt living in Canada upon the realisation that if she were to speak her native tongue no one would be able to understand her. As a conceptual framework, the structuring of the show into fragmented body parts works brilliantly; through Patience’s reconstruction of her ‘body’ and self, she comes to understand her own cultural identity and is able to reclaim her native Doric and reconnect with her home and history.
The show is at its best when Patience is joined on stage by an old friend from Canada. Here, the audience is privy to an intimate reunion and an organic discussion about the power and necessity of reclaiming one’s own language and culture in the face of a society which discriminates against anyone who differs from mainstream social norms. Together, they perform a song about moving forward, and it is a testament to the intimate atmosphere Patience has successfully created that the audience participates and sings along.
Although at times it is difficult for just any audience member to connect some of the anecdotes and stories to the wider discussion of what it means to belong to a place and culture, My Home Canada & My Home-Home Scotland ultimately offers an interesting mediation on the meaning of home and the power of language, leaving the audience reflective about their own past, stories and culture.
My Home Canada and My Home-Home Scotland was performed on 19th October 2019 as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. You can find more details about the festival, and buy tickets for future events, here.
Image: Alexandria Patience.