Members of the cast of This Stays in the Room.
Members of the cast of This Stays in the Room.

For most of us, shame is usually filled with secrecy and pain. For the four actors in the upcoming world premiere of This Stays in the Room, while the emotions are still very real, there will be few secrets remaining by the end of the night.

[pullquote]“Being able to tell these stories over and over in this context has allowed me to somehow walk these guys forward with me.  The repetition of the stories has helped get me to a new understanding of them and I feel like I am prepared to let them go now.” – Allan Morgan[/pullquote]With an idea that has been gestating for three years, Vancouver’s Horseshoes and Hand Grenades will finally present its original collective creation, based entirely on the true stories of shame and forgiveness of its creative team.

Among that creative team is veteran actor Allan Morgan whose stories will include a devastating encounter at the local swimming pool and his first sexual experience at the hands of an older man.

“One of the stories deals with an incident that happened when I was about ten years old and a couple of girls looked at me and said I had nice tits,” explains Morgan who struggled with his weight as a child.  “That simple little remark that I happened to hear changed my life and I didn’t take my shirt off for many years.”

Another story that Morgan tells is about his first sexual encounter with an older friend of his brother in which he ends up giving him a blow job somewhere out in the country and was forced to walk home.

“I always felt I had abandoned those kids in these situations,” says Morgan who says that the process of writing and performing his stories as part of This Stays in the Room has been helpful for him to move on.

“Being able to tell these stories over and over in this context has allowed me to somehow walk these guys forward with me.  The repetition of the stories has helped get me to a new understanding of them and I feel like I am prepared to let them go now.”

Of course bearing one’s soul in front of a live audience each night isn’t something Morgan and the creative team takes lightly and not only did they ensure the development process was safe, they also agreed to take it only to the edge of their comfort level.

“We all agreed we would only tell stories that we would feel comfortable sharing. I have other stories to tell, but only my best friends or confidants will ever hear those,” laughs Morgan.

While Morgan acknowledges that This Stays in the Room has been a cathartic and healing process for himself, he also points to a collective experience that makes these very personal stories relatable to an audience.

“Yes it is about my experiences, but it is just as much about being human too,” says Morgan.  “Many people will be able to relate to how fucked up they felt by their first sexual experience and there is this great commonality that will touch on specifics in their own life.”

Moving the show outside a typical theatre and into the Gallery Gachet in Gastown is also designed to help audiences connect with the material.  “The idea was to get it out of a theatre setting so people would listen to the stories with fresh ears,” he concludes.

This Stays in the Room plays Gallery Gachet in Gastown from March 19-30, 2014.  Visit http://horseshoesandhandgrenades.ca for tickets and information.