For a Victoria director stabbed during a mugging in Toronto last month, the show almost didn’t go on.
Glynis Leyshon was attacked by a man wearing a black balaclava in the Summerhill Gardens area of Toronto on Dec. 15. Her torso was punctured four times with what she believes was a box cutter. Her right knuckle was broken and her arms were slashed. Her purse, wallet and cellphone were stolen.
“I was extraordinarily lucky. The surgeon [at Sunnybrook Hospital] kept saying that. None of the wounds affected anything major,” she said.
Calvin Michael Nimoh, 22, has been charged with robbery and assault with a weapon. Two women also face robbery and assault charges in connection with the attack.
Nimoh also faces a first-degree murder charge related to a separate attack that same day.
Leyshon was visiting Toronto to oversee rehearsals for an opera being staged by Newfoundland’s Opera on the Avalon. In the best show-must-go-on tradition, she returned to rehearsals just two days after the assault.
“It was a music workshop. So I was able to sit and observe/participate, rather than leap around directing or staging a scene,” she said.
A freelance director with a national reputation, Leyshon is former artistic director of both Victoria’s Belfry Theatre and the Vancouver Playhouse. She spoke from Montreal, where she’s directing Otello for Opéra de Montréal.
“I am still a bit physically sore,” she said. “And my right hand is very sore from the break. Emotionally, feeling OK, if a bit battered around the edges.”
Nimoh is charged with murder in the Dec. 15 stabbing death of Mark Ernsting, a 39-year-old cancer researcher. Ernsting was stabbed after an evening walk near Toronto’s Ryerson University, just hours after Leyshon’s attack.
“My robbery and attack was pretty horrific. But it wasn’t until I realized that it was connected to another much more serious event that you realize just how loony this guy was,” she said.
Leyshon was released from Sunnybrook Hospital at 3 a.m. on Dec. 16 after a trauma team attended to her wounds. She returned to Victoria four days after the attack.
When the assault happened, she was just four doors away from a friend’s home, where she was staying “in a nice residential neighbourhood.” Afterward, she walked to the residence, where police and an ambulance were called.
Leyshon said the attack took only a few minutes. She remembers encountering two people, not three.
“I was grabbed from behind.… The person that grabbed me, he then came in front of me. I thought he was punching me on my torso. He was actually stabbing me,” she said.
“It was one of those razor-blade things. It wasn’t like a huge knife. It was four pretty serious wounds to my torso and some defensive wounds on my arm.”
Despite having returned to work, Leyshon still grapples with emotional after-effects.
“It’s taken quite a while to even process it, to tell you the truth. I still can’t quite grasp that it happened, it was so fast.”