March 2006

She Said Saffron | by Lisa Pijuan-Nomura
March 11, 2006Studio Theatre HarbourfrontToronto
Heart-felt ...
by David Fujino

There's real food and fake food.

"Real food is made with love."

So said Lisa Pijuan-Nomura, in her one-woman piece, She Said Saffron.

In a well-balanced 60 minutes of acting, dance, and storytelling, Lisa shared her story of growing up Spanish-Canadian in Brantford, Ontario — according to her, a cultural capitol of donut shops — where she experienced 'differentness' from an early age.

Lisa's stage memories were performed in a sweet-natured and lightly humorous manner, and she returned frequently, and reverently, to the topic of food — especially the making of paella — as a positive expression of her culture and family.

In other scenes about first love, or the awkward night of her high school dance, or her growing acceptance of her body type versus tall scrawny types, Pijuan-Nomura successfully avoided sentimentality, and she therefore projected an ultimately clear-eyed and healthy sense of her self.

In one memorable scene — it was drop dead funny — Lisa played a German woman who taught Flamenco dance in Commandant style, as a form of aerobics! (I enjoyed and accepted the scene as an example of benign, equal opportunity stereotyping.)

Pijuan-Nomura's training is clearly in physical theatre where body and facial movement tell the story more than the delivery of reams of text. There were monologues, of course, but she executed them simply, and never forced her points, and never begged for laughs.

Also notable was her 'spot on' use of music when she had Boy George singing, "Do you really want to hurt me? Do you really want to make me cry?" as she stood there on stage, a wilting away wallflower, all alone at her high school dance.

She Said Saffron proved to be a welcome relief from the sharp-edged and gloomy stories that 'minority' performers often present.

Instead, Lisa offered us an evening of love — love for her family, love for her community, and finally, love for herself as she became a woman and an artist.

But finally, back to food again.

Saffron is the expensive, orange-coloured stigma from the Crocus flower.

Saffron is used to flavour and colour paella, the Spanish dish made of rice, saffron, chicken, and seafood, that is then cooked and served in a large shallow pan.

Saffron is used in real food.

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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