Monday, 12 September 2016

Oasis Love

Gay Theatre Toronto had the chance to catch the talented Johnny Salib in his one man show, Oasis Love, at the Hamilton Fringe Festival this past July. A hit with Hamilton audiences and critics, the show follows the journey of a love stricken boy "battling to find his place within the manipulation of his boyfriend and his own good intentions". Told partly through music, Johnny Salib performs the piece with beautiful vocals and raw emotion. The play appears at The One More Night Festival in Toronto on September 16. We recently had a chance to chat with Johnny about the show.

Gay Theatre Toronto

Can you tell us what inspired you to write Oasis Love? 

Johnny Salib 

Oasis Love was actually originally inspired by another piece I was writing titled "Me Dating Myself" which explored the different dating profiles I have created over the years. As I continued to develop this piece there was one relationship I had mentioned that really stuck out to me/made me break down, so I put down that piece and began writing specifically about that relationship. I got more inspired to write and really analyze this relationship to see why it was still effecting me. Then Oasis Love was kind of born! 


Can you break down the plot for readers without giving too much away? 


Oasis Love really follows the rise and fall of a relationship. Damien, the lead, finds himself looking for love on dating apps, in clubs, everywhere he can think of and soon becomes a tad bit cynical. When he meets Jason, his soon to be boyfriend he falls for him quickly and begins telling/documenting the events that happen between them: the first date, first time meeting friends, first fight, moving in, getting engaged, and the obvious: breaking up. Between each of the scenes Damien really dives deep into his own history, analyzing the things that make him... well... him! Why does he want to fall in love? What does being in a same-sex relationship mean to him? What does being a person of colour mean for him?


Some would argue that love and relationships are universal. How important do you think it is for LGBTQ individuals to see themselves represented on stage and in film and television? 


So important. I cannot express how important visibility is in the arts. I actually was ready to quit the arts in 2012 because I didn't see anyone who looked like me on stage/in the music industry. I then ran into a production by MT Space in 2013 and when I saw people like me on stage I knew it was my responsibility to create more spaces to be seen and heard. Even in 2016 I found it really difficult to find queer persons of colour to help mentor me in the next stages of my artistic career. It's kind of sad when you can't find people to work with that you identify with. Back to relationships and visibility though, I also think it's important to have 3D versions of queer people on stage/in the arts. That's what Damien is, he has every feeling. He's a well-rounded fool who fell in love and is just dealing with the b.s. that has come his way. 


Since your play is about a relationship, can you describe your ideal first date? 


Man, oh man. I don't even know. I'm super awkward to date, so even thinking about dates freaks me out. I like quiet places, the outdoors, and sushi... so if you could find a way to incorporate all three.... do it up! But, I definitely suggest you come see my show because I do talk about one of the most kick-ass, adorable dates I have EVER been on! 

Oasis Love plays The One More Night Festival on September 16 at 7pm at The Commons Theatre – 190 Richmond St East, Toronto. Tickets are $15.

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