I Love Rock ’N’ Roll

Sam Ho­rak’s Rock ’N’ Roll Saved My Life re­leases rage and in­ti­mate de­tails in a brave per­for­mance.


Rock ’N’ Roll Saved My Life Thu Sep 7-Sat Sep 9, 9pm Gus’ Pub, 2605 Agri­cola Street, pwyc

Sam Ho­rak is mid-run of Rock ’N’ Roll Saved My Life, a scrappy, fear­less slice of Fringe that mashes up her two artis­tic loves, mu­sic and theatre. This af­ter­noon, hold­ing an iced tea in a north end cafe, she’s warm and di­rect, with a lit­tle lisp and smoker’s voice that make her sound like Emma Stone. At night, on the bat­tered, grimy stage of Gus’ Pub, she sings, she flails, she reads her child­hood diaries aloud, she fights with her boyfriend, she de­tails her bat­tle with anx­i­ety, she talks about her sex­ual as­sault. She swoons over her favourite artists: Bikini Kill, Wendy O. Wil­liams, Black Flag, Joan Jett.

It’s loud, brash and provoca­tive, a bold and brave per­for­mance that of­fers up in­ti­mate de­tails, di­rectly into a head­set mi­cro­phone.

“I didn’t think it would be this tough. I don’t want to sound like a wimp or any­thing, but it’s re­ally in­tense,” says Ho­rak, artis­tic direc­tor of Rolling Bold Pro­duc­tions, who’s also work­ing full-time at her restau­rant job through­out the run. “And I’m not re­ally sleep­ing. I guess I over­looked that.”

Ho­rak moved here from Toronto for Dal­housie’s act­ing pro­gram and was kicked out for a hand­ful of rea­sons (“some of it was my re­spon­si­bil­ity, a lot of it”), but that’s where she met Laura Vin­goe-Cram, who helped shape and di­rects the show, which is a work-in-progress.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to work with her,” says Ho­rak. “You know when you’re younger and you ask some­one to be your part­ner? It felt like that. ‘I wrote this play, will you be part­ner, will you be my friend dur­ing this play?’”

Rock ’N’ Roll Saved My Life was sparked by a Face­book meme, “peo­ple were post­ing their top 10 al­bums that were im­por­tant to them in their youth,” she says. “I was like, ‘I don’t have 10, they’re all dif­fer­ent mo­ments from my life. And it’s in Hal­i­fax where they’re re­ally im­por­tant to me—the peo­ple I met, peo­ple that in­tro­duced me to mu­sic that is re­ally im­por­tant to me. I started read­ing old jour­nal en­tries and writ­ing about it.”

Ho­rak was fur­ther in­spired by Jan­uary’s women’s march, sad­dened and en­raged by the al­leged rape of a Hal­i­fax woman by a taxi driver. It all started com­ing out. “I threw up a draft and was like ‘This is my life’—it was triple the length it is now,” she says. Vin­goe-Cram “was like ‘Oh wow, this is a lot.’ She re­ally helped me sort and pack­age all these ideas.”

Ho­rak is joined in the show by Michael Kam­ras as Rock N Roll, a lit­eral per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of the pa­tri­archy. “You’re a metaphor!” she screams at him. She closes by singing and play­ing a song writ­ten by her friend Jess Mac­don­ald called “Straight White Guy.” They play in The Fem­doms to­gether (Ho­rak is also in The Mankos).

“Our band is a safe space, and it’s amaz­ing to just talk,” says Ho­rak. “We vent, and then we play, and it’s so lovely. It’s one of the best ex­pe­ri­ences—I’ve been in hor­ri­ble states run­ning this show and then gone to band prac­tice and it’s like”—she ex­hales, lean­ing back in her chair—“yeah, fuck, what a re­lease. Se­ri­ously, I mean that so sin­cerely. It’s why I wrote the show.”

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