FRINGE 2016: A Thousand Kindnesses

To say that Rachel Jury’s A Thousand Kindnesses is ambitious, would be an understatement. In this one woman show, the performer weaves first-hand experience of asylum seekers, and refugees from war-ravaged nations of the past 30 years, from the Sudanese civil war to the ongoing Syrian conflict.

The performance is partly autobiographical, but mostly based on interviews with displaced and marginalized populations in her native Glasgow. Jury uses her own subjectivity, her own relationship with her father, and candid vignettes from her childhood as a vehicle to weave between the disparate experiences of hardship; a Syrian mother’s arduous journey through continental Europe, the plight of a Sudanese boy forced from his village, and an ethnic Albanian reminiscing on the brutality of war and the destruction of her home country, Yugoslavia.

Jury embodies these different experiences through the adoption of accents, postures, and intonations to signal transition between her subjects. A Thousand Kindnesses' constant vacillation between stories is as much a strength as it is a weakness.

The frequent jumping and occasionally abrupt switches may be necessary to indicate a relationship between the lines of each character, in an effort to suggest the similarities and dissimilarities between the lived experiences of Jury’s subjects. Furthermore it indicates the many manifestations, and cultural connotations in which “Kindness” may manifest in various contexts.

The playwright aptly demonstrates that a benign gesture of goodwill may mean the difference between life and death, affirming or disarming a prejudice.However in this bid to differentiate each experience, Jury relies on tropes such as accents that sometimes come across as heavy-handed.

As part of conFAB, a Glasgow based art collective dedicated to “art as conversation”, Jury has succeeded. Behind this ambitious and experimental piece, is an impassioned call to reclaim “kindness” as a means of resisting the madness of war and politics of division. A brief glance at the newspaper will reveal such work is needed more than ever.

A Thousand Kindnesses played at The Black Theatre Workshop Studio, located at 3680 Jeanne-Mance throughout the 2016 Festival. If you missed it, you can catch what their production company, conFAB, is working on outside the Fringe. And if you've seen it, continue to buzz it and support it!


Danilo Bulatovic is part of CJLO’s Official Fringe Team covering the sights and sounds from the 2016 St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival. He also hosts Computer Sourire every Tuesday afternoon from 4pm – 5pm, only on 1690AM in Montreal and online at Follow his Mixcloud for more of his amazing curations.