In conversation with Nisha Coleman

Murray McGregor – In (email) conversation with Nisha Coleman

I recently traded emails with Nisha Coleman about her award winning show Self-Exile coming this Thursday, Sept. 28.

What is your explanation of the tag line of the poster. “Is it better to be loved for who you are not, than rejected for who you are.” 
That is an actual line in the show, and it refers to the idea of being different people in order to please others. There was a time in high school, when I was coming out of my super shy days, that I learned that I could get people to like me more if I altered my behaviour. This can sometimes work quite effectively, but the problem with this is that when people like you for the person you pretend to be, can you ever really accept their love? … The only way to be truly loved is to be yourself. But that comes at an extraordinary risk – to be rejected for who you are. Is it worth this risk?

Vulnerability, rejection are possible triggers to go into self-exile. Are there other reasons? 
I think exiling one’s self primarily is a mode of protection. Our fear of rejection can be so powerful that we can sometimes isolate ourselves so as to (feel) isolated. … The other thing I might add is that often it’s not so much a conscious decision as a subconscious one, which makes it even trickier.

Self-exile seems a part of your life; growing up in Muskoka swamps,  learning violin, even solo busking in Paris for three years.
There were a few years in early adolescence that I was so shy I could barely speak. Many of my classmates weren’t even sure if I could speak. … When you exile yourself from the rest of the world, you become also exiled from yourself. I explore this period in my show and how the violin really turned things around for me. Music was a form of communication, a sort of stand-in for my real voice until I could learn to speak and interact again.

Do you play your violin?
I don’t play my actual violin, but I do play the “air violin” and there is some recorded sound of me playing.

You use both narrative and stand-up style humour. 
In my stories I try to reflect the variations that life offers. Often the most serious moments are surrounded by humour. For me, on stage, I worked hard to find just the right balance between humour and seriousness. To have fun and laugh while also reflecting the deeper aspects of ourselves and what it means to be human. It’s sad. And it’s also hilarious. How absurd!


presented by Ottawa StoryTellers
written and performed by Nisha Coleman
September 28th, 8pm at Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Ave.)
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door, or at