Nova Scotia

Playwright Walter Borden home in Nova Scotia to perform at Bus Stop Theatre

Walter Borden says The Epistle of Tightrope Time 'took on a life of its own' and demanded to be re-written many times over the decades.

1-man play has been re-written many times in the 40 years since its inception

Award-winning playwright and actor Walter Borden is returning to his native Nova Scotia to perform a new version of a one-man play he first began to write more than 40 years ago.

The Epistle of Tightrope Time runs for three nights, from June 8-11, at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street in Halifax.

There is this kernel in us that makes us get up, and that's the human spirit. It wants to survive.- Walter Borden

Originally titled Tightrope Time: Ain't Nuthin' More Than Some Itty Bitty Madness Between Twilight and Dawn, the piece was one of the first Canadian plays to discuss male homosexuality from a black perspective, according to the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.

Borden said he's re-written the play several times over the decades since its inception. "It took on a life of its own. It dictated when it wanted to rest, when it wanted to be shown, how it wanted to be shown, where it would morph into something else.

"After I haven't done it for a while," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning, "it just looms over me like this huge monster and I think do I have the strength to do this again?" 

Award-winning playright and actor Walter Borden brings his play The Epistle of Tightrope Time to Halifax. 0:56

Performing one-man play 'lonely'

Doing a one-man play — the current version has 12 characters and each recites a monologue — takes a lot of energy, Borden said. "It's so lonely. Because when I do other plays there's someone else there. You feed on their energy."

Semi-biographical, one of the characters in the play, Black Man Talking, is based on Borden. The rest are "all composites of people. Hundreds, thousands of people whom I have met over the years."

Born in New Glasgow, N.S., Borden has won the Order of Canada, the Order of Nova Scotia and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal. (Stratford Festival)

The play focuses on the resiliency of the human spirit, Borden said.

"We all travel a tightrope to get from where we were to where we want to go. That's the journey of life," he said, "and while travelling on that tightrope, all kinds of things can happen."

He said even when life knocks you down, "there is this kernel in us that makes us get up, and that's the human spirit. It wants to survive."

Born in New Glasgow, Borden has won the Order of Canada, the Order of Nova Scotia, and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

With files from CBC's Information Morning