The story of theatre artists embarking on a tour is usually nothing of note. The story of theatre artists going on tour with a newborn is another matter.
Such is the case for new mom, Stephanie Morin-Robert who is about to embark on a North American tour with partner and fellow artist, Alistair Knowles, and their two-month old baby, Olive.
Kicking off the tour in Vancouver, Morin-Robert will perform Blindside in April. The true story of losing her left eye to retinoblastoma at the age of two, the one-woman show picks up at age seven as she moves to a new town.
“It’s at that point when I have to change schools and make new friends that I realize that I have something different about myself,” she explains. “So, it’s about me coming to terms with that and then wielding that into not a disadvantage, but a superpower. It’s a comedy about that transition in my life.”
The first time Morin-Robert will present Blindside in Vancouver since moving here from Montreal, it not only felt like the right show to kick-off the tour, it also has a bigger personal connection since the birth of her daughter.
“Once I was pregnant, my partner Alistair and I met a genetic counselor to see what the chances were of me carrying the gene and whether I would pass it on to Olive,” she says. “So, we did that blood work and the results were great, and so I don’t carry the gene to pass onto Olive.”
And while the couple will need to continue to have Olive’s eyes checked regularly, the blood tests indicate things are looking good for their daughter.
Following Morin-Robert’s Vancouver shows, the trio will visit places like Powell River, Nelson and Cranbrook in British Columbia, as well as Fringe festivals in Orlando, Winnipeg, Toronto and Edmonton.
“There’s about a month in June that we’ll be coming back home for a little break, but I would say we will be pretty much on tour for the next year and a half,” she says.
Not that Morin-Robert isn’t prepared for a grueling 18 months on tour, as she was performing right up to her third trimester when she was pregnant with Olive. Something she would not, in hindsight, necessarily recommend.
“I ended up finding it quite challenging because I was doing two shows a day, doing a pretty extensive Fringe tour with four different shows,” she says.
But being pregnant and having a new born are two different things, and with the help of her husband, family and friends while on the road, Morin-Robert says she is prepared.
“Because both Alistair and I are performers, we’re able to accommodate our touring schedules so that we’re able to support each other and tour together as a family,” she says. “Which to me is quite exciting as I don’t want my personal family life to be separate from my work life, because they’re very related.”
The family/work relationship comes from the fact that, in addition to her own one-woman shows, Morin-Robert also performs with her husband in Bushel and Peck.
There are also the practicalities of being a new mom, including Morin-Robert’s commitment to continue breast feeding, which is ironically also one of the fears she has about performing over the coming months.
“Yeah, I’m worried that my breasts might leak through my costume, that I’ll be tired, that there’ll be a bit of a lack of sleep because how much sleep I get is kind of quite unpredictable these days,” she says.
But while there are uncertainties in going on the road with a newborn, Morin-Robert is also excited about the possibilities.
“I think we’re going to roll with the punches,” she says. “We’re as old as parents as she is old in life, so we’re all going to learn together as we navigate through this pretty epic journey.”