Nisha Coleman transports the audience from her hippie childhood in rural swampland to street performing in Paris. Self-Exile is a humorous and compelling exploration of alienation, mental health, and self-identification.
Centaur’s Best of the Fringe Award
Bill Bowers Award for Excellence
“One of the highlights of this year's fringe”
- Cult Montreal
“A fantastic storyteller, a captivating performer”
- Montreal Rampage
Born on a swamp to hippie parents, Nisha Coleman had an unusual upbringing. Her solo storytelling show, Self-Exile, transports the audience through key life events, from trauma to triumph, toddler to young adult, from a swamp in Northern Ontario to the streets of Paris. “Don’t be yourself,” Coleman’s troubled father tells her when she is five years old, triggering a conscious separation from the self.
She becomes a shapeshifter: a teacher’s pet, a troublemaker, a clown, a recluse. Geographic isolation and social anxiety lead to a period of selective mutism in adolescence, but through the violin, Coleman reconnects with humans and ultimately to herself.
Ending in the streets of Paris, Self-Exile is a celebration of our complicated selves and what it really means to “be yourself.” Winner of the Centaur’s Best of Fringe Award, Self-Exile was featured at the 2017 Wildside Festival at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal.
This is one of the best shows you can see at this year’s Fringe.
Montreal Rampage, Montreal Fringe Festival, June 2016
Nisha Coleman was raised by hippies. This, as she says, has some pros and cons. Some pros: hippies like nature, hippies don’t like institutions such as school. Some cons: hippies don’t have money, hippies go camping for family vacations instead of to Florida. Living in a hippie family very much shapes Nisha’s life, giving her freedom and a steady diet of tofu and lentils. But all is not rainbows and peace signs. At a young age, Nisha’s hippie-but-not father tells her, “Don’t be yourself.” She takes this advice to heart, spending a good deal of her young life “in exile” from herself as the title of the piece suggests.
Finding her way back is as much luck as it is bravery. I don’t want to reveal too much about this juicy, wonderful gem of a show. Nisha is a fantastic storyteller, a captivating performer, and an all around interesting person. She speaks important truths, lives fascinating lives, and most importantly, resonates with authenticity.
Nisha Coleman is an engaging storyteller and actor whose solo performance of the autobiographical Self-Exile is one of the highlights of this year’s Fringe.
Cult MTL, June 2016
Transporting the audience on a voyage that takes us from her childhood growing up with hippie parents to her busking days on the streets of Paris, Montreal’s Coleman evokes a panoply of emotions with an innocent charm. The writing, in contrast, betrays an alert intelligence as she explores themes of alienation, isolation, mental health and self-identification.
The minimalist set contains four plain cardboard boxes in which she discards clothes like layers of skin, revealing the next stage of the character’s evolution. Clearly at ease in her own skin, Coleman’s performance was seamless and elicited a warm standing ovation from the audience during Saturday’s show.
There’s something about Coleman’s presence that causes everyone to want to be in her orbit.
Montreal Rampage, Toronto Fringe Festival, July 2016
Nisha Coleman’s Self-Exile was first produced at SOlOS Festival in Montreal, last November and it’s still beautiful. The original review can be found here. There’s something about Coleman’s presence that causes everyone to want to be in her orbit. Evidence of this can be seen after the show, when her audience patiently waits to meet her or buy her book, Busker. The most magical part of watching this post-show show is seeing how gracious Coleman remains through each interaction.
A more than merited standing ovation.
Montreal Rampage, Solo Festival, November 2015
Nisha Coleman is someone I have grown to be a fan of, from seeing her perform at ‘Confabulation‘, to “Things Drugs Taught Me,” to Solos Festival’s “Self-Exile” and right into her book launch next week. There’s nothing like watching deep sincerity and Coleman embodies it every time.
The pre-show music consists of Regina Spektor’s “Open” with these lyrics leading us into the show’s opening: “Potentially lovely, Perpetually human, Suspended and open.” These words perfectly describe the journey Coleman takes us on for the next hour. Coleman’s story starts ever so briefly before her conception with her hippie parents meeting.
Nisha is a fantastic storyteller, a captivating performer, and an all-around interesting person. She speaks important truths, lives fascinating lives, and most importantly, resonates with authenticity. This is one of the best show’s you can see at this year’s Fringe.
- Montreal Rampage
A beautiful theatrical experience. Nisha Coleman’s wry memoir is smart, brave, funny and deeply moving. This show speaks to the undaunted violinist in all of us. Don’t miss it.
- Arthur Holden, actor and playwright
It’s hard to take against Nisha Coleman’s one-woman show, Self-Exile. She’s immensely appealing and exudes a vulnerability that makes you fervently hope her autobiographical story — from damaged upbringing with hippy parents to lonely days busking in Paris — will have a happy ending. Most of the audience rose for an ecstatic standing ovation.
- Montreal Gazette
Nisha Coleman is an engaging storyteller and actor whose solo performance of the autobiographical Self-Exile is one of the highlights of this year’s Fringe. Transporting the audience on a voyage that takes us from her childhood growing up with hippie parents to her busking days on the streets of Paris, Montreal’s Coleman evokes a panoply of emotions with an innocent charm. The writing, in contrast, betrays an alert intelligence as she explores themes of alienation, isolation, mental health and self-identification.
- Cult Montreal
Nisha Coleman is a chameleon. In one hour, she is so thoroughly a hippie mother, a nine year old girl, an unsure teenager, a violin virtuoso, that you can hardly believe she's only one person. Creating images sparkling with detail in our minds, Nisha purposefully strides down the twisting path that begins with her father saying, "Just don't be yourself."
- Sage Tyrtle, storyteller and curator of High Stakes Storytelling Series
Coleman’s show is entertaining and engaging, and she has a very riveting stage presence and good comedic intuition
- My Entertainment world, Toronto