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An Artistic Life: I Am Not My Father’s Son

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By Gabriel Dubé-Dupuis

I took to writing almost immediately after my father passed away in late 2012. It was originally a way to explain to a large crowd, thru social media, what exactly had happened to him, to explain how I had come to find out he had passed.

It came naturally; it was my chance to tell everyone what I couldn’t bear repeating too many times.

You will not be surprised if I tell you that it also was very therapeutic, but mostly for others, not for me. While I had seemed to discover a new tool, my words seemed to calm others, to inspire them, to make them dream. They stopped to read my words, to read what I had to say. The love was impeccable and their feedback, balm on my heart.

I grew up north of Quebec City in the depth of winter. In a house that was a century old, poor of material possessions, I was rich in imagination. I would often wander alone in the woods and create stories that filled my days. I was a loner even with two sisters and a brother; I was introverted, emotionally charged and incapable of drinking milk.

My parents were very artistic in every possible way.

A happy simple childhood is the ultimate memory I have. Not that of soccer practices or any physical activity for that matter. I lived deeply inside my intellect.

Let me share with you all some of my most vivid memories:

A glimpse.

To most, my father is remembered as a clown, he would have said; “I am an actor, such a good actor that you think I am a clown”.

I remember him more as an incredible talent, a brilliant autodidact man that was also very passive in his actions; he intimidates me to this day, even while resting in peace. Yet I cannot help but believe that his autodidact’s qualities have been passed down.

As far back as I can remember, there was little doubt, that my life would be spent in the wings of theatres.

Back in the early 80s, my father was my hero; there was no other figure that could come close to the abilities, which my father was making a living of. I was utterly fascinated with his musical composition, proud of his audacity to embark on a stage and face the public. His wit for improvisation and humor was unique, and when he sung, all stopped to listen.

As a child, once in a while, I would be allowed, to follow him through a nightly ritual of being an actor in a stage play. I felt trusted, invited, and part of the gang.

Thru the artist’s entrance of the theatre (I mean, he had his own entrance!!!), I would see how everyone was looking at him, the respect they showed him. How he made them all smile. I felt my father was the center of the universe of others.

In the showroom.

There is nothing more mystical or telling than standing in a showroom that is empty, everything is possible.

“This will be my church,” I thought. I will devote myself to this enthralling world. Whether the house lights were on, that the microphone were being tested, that the set was being painted or that lights were being focused, the showroom always breathed with endless possibilities and pleasure.

After the performance, we often went to a restaurant with the director, the actors, and technicians of the play. There was a meal, lots of laughter, and the voices always raised louder as the night grew. I would often end up on a bench among winter jackets pretending to be asleep, just listening to the stage voices, with an eye that would open from time to time to draw the moment.

Of Life.

I didn’t understand until well after his passing that I was allowed to be a grown up among them. I was not a child; this is what was always so exhilarating about following him backstage. I was recognized. I patiently looked, I learned, I built my integrity on the echoes of the veterans while always looking with romance at what was unfolding before me. To this day, when part of a production, I feel like that kid I was among adults, always on the lookout to learn.

Today I am an unlikely accomplished stage manager.

My capacity to listen and respect the environment around brought me to where I am now standing.

I shall go into further details of this passionate life I live but for now I am rising out of his ashes, at the age of 39, I have always been living in the wings of theatres, the most unthinkable of theatres. I have been silent in the shadow of my father. Today I start a new chapter as I am writing this one.

I step onto the stage, facing undoubtedly the unknown, but confident enough that even failure will not bring me down.

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