We visited the five performers of Lapin blanc, lapin rouge in their dressing room, minutes before they took the stage and discovered the script in front of the audience. Were they nervous, scared, excited or perhaps, even naked? Check out our videos to find out.
Want to see Lapin blanc, lapin rouge, but don’t know which night to choose? We have just the test for you.
Fresh from a trip to Brussels, the Montreal-based playwright, Rébecca Déraspe, tells us about her passion for theatre, about Deux ans de votre vie and its characters, about friendship and the projects she is working on.
How did you come to write for theatre?
When I was a child, my dream was to become an actress. I was fascinated by television actors. At 5, I started acting classes. At 20, I realized that the stage was a very stressful environment for me and that I could not be an actress. It was a difficult realization. I then studied creative writing in university. There were play-writing classes as part of the program. I was immediately inspired by this type of writing which combined my passion for theatre while allowing me to express myself in other ways. I had found my place. I started writing plays and then auditioned for the National Theatre School’s playwriting program. I graduated in 2010.
What inspired you to write Deux ans de votre vie ?
I was approached by les Biches pensives, a Montreal theatre company founded by Annie Darise and Dominique Leclerc, two actresses. They commissioned me for a specific theme; write about the social pressure that is placed on single people and couples. It was a theme that has always interested me, that spoke to me personally. I know Annie and Dominique very well; we share the same school of thought. From the start we shared a common vision of the project. My impression is that they gave me a spark rather than asking me for a specific theme. It was a beautiful gift. My biggest challenge was to theatricalize the proposition, while avoiding clichés, caricature or anything didactic. I didn’t want to put forward a position on what to think about couples, but rather present a story that would invite a reflection on the idea of couples.
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In the midst of our 40th season, our Artistic and Managing Director reflects on the past and makes plan for the future.
|In 1974, fifteen women came together to perform Les belles sœurs by Michel Tremblay. Before starting rehearsals, they needed to find someone to direct the production. By pure coincidence, they met the director Catherine Colvey who accepts to stage the play. She thus becomes la seizième (the sixteenth).On September 5, Théâtre la Seizième celebrated its 40th anniversary in the company of a 150 artists, founders, friends, partners and audience members. On the menu: readings, memories, reunions and surprises as part of a celebration that was worthy of our 40 years as a company. It was a magical moment for us, where we could see the impact that Théâtre la Seizième has had on the people here. It felt like a great big hug that did us a world of good!
Théâtre la Seizième is still the only professional Francophone theatre company in British-Columbia. Being the only purveyor of an artistic discipline over such a vast territory has its share of challenges, but also its rewards. After forty years of offering services to Francophone and Francophile communities in British-Columbia, we can be proud of what we’ve accomplished : quality productions that showcase local artists and craftspeople, annual provincial tours, with certain productions travelling throughout Canada, the development of a support program for artists that is extremely productive and numerous partnerships with Francophone and Anglophone artistic groups which have led to the presentation of international level productions
While blowing out the candles on its birthday cake, Théâtre la Seizième made (very quietly of course) two wishes for its future. We have the pleasure to welcome more and more audience members every year to our theatre. It’s a great gift, which has also paradoxically become one of our biggest challenges. We have to constantly turn back enthusiastic audience members who would like to see theatre in French. This saddens us, especially since the closest theatre that is able to offer such an experience in French in more than a 1000 Km away! A bigger theatre, that preserves the current proximity between the artists and the audience, would make us extremely happy. It would allow us to take in the hundreds of audience members that we turn away every season and who put their names on our waiting lists, without much hope, play after play.
We would also like to find the necessary resources to increase the number of productions offered by the company every season. We are never at a loss for potential projects and we have an audience base that would like to attend more shows. An increase in the number of production requires more resources, not only to produce the plays themselves, but also to create an organizational infrastructure able to adequately support programming and an audience base that is in constant expansion.
At forty, la Seizième has laid down a positive track record, while at the same moving ahead to achieve its future projects. We have serious dreams, crazy dreams (one doesn’t exclude the other) and we want to pursue our path full steam ahead, instead of tapping the brakes. Supported by artists, craftspeople and our audiences over the past forty years, we will continue to forge towards the future following our dreams that, we hope, will continue to meet the growing needs of our community.
Artistic and Managing Director
Multi-faceted artist Layla Metssitane has adapted, translated and directed Stupeur et tremblements, on top of also performing the play on stage. In this interview given at the Théâtre de Poche, in France, the Moroccan born artist gives us a glimpse of her creative process.
|How did you get the idea to put Stupeur et Tremblements on stage?Layla Metssitane: I had read the novel when I was 18 years old and three things touched me: Amélie Nothomb’s sense of humour, her view of women and her examination of the working world in Japan (the relationship between men and women). I was destined for economics, and I was very aware of the codified universe of the company. I wanted to bring that language to the stage, and to appropriate it, because it resonated in me on a number of levels. My first attempt came was when I was 20 years old, and then years later, Anne Delbée revived my desire to perform this text. It was created with La Compagnie Théâtre des Hommes, and since 2010, I have been continuously travelling with this production, that I originally adapted and performed at Avignon. The Alliance française and French cultural institutes then took the production under their wings: I have already performed in 17 countries.
What do you mean about « appropriating » the script?
L.M.: I am from Morocco and from an Arab-Muslim culture where the condition of women is particular and questionable for some. In the Japanese society described by Amélie Nothomb, we find an equivalent treatment of women, objects of submission, forced to obey behavioural rules that they never question, which can seem astonishing to our emancipated Western eyes. This sliding from one culture to another seemed opportune to avoid a conflict between the two cultures by simply showing that women receive similar treatment in Japan and a Muslim country… The dress codes seem to support this: I start the production in a niqab, and continue with traditional white make-up in the Japanese tradition.
Is Japan present in your staging?
L.M.: What I like about Japanese culture is the art of living, a respect for ancestral customs, really close to what I experienced in Morocco; for example, the ritual around the tea ceremony, that was performed by my Moroccan Grand-Mother and which is fundamental in Japan. I practiced Ikebana (floral arrangement) which taught me a gestural vocabulary that has become inherent in the young woman I play. What attracted me to this role was the mixing of cultural identities in one character, and being able to create many more… But everything is concentrated on Amélie-san: the environment is very minimalist; and I always tried to stay within a sense of suggestion and subtlety, two characteristics proper to Nothomb.
How did you conceive your adaptation?
L.M.: I didn’t want to make a piece of theatre out of the novel that had numerous characters, but rather conserve the author’s monologue, that then becomes the narrator who takes in the audience as a confidante in her story. My adaptation can be summed up to a concentration on the character of the author and on her interlocutor, miss Fubuki-San Mori (whose name means « snowstorm ») The play is conceived like a story with two distinct parts : the woman on the one side and her work life on the other. The character in the niqab at the beginning escapes from her condition by reading Stupeur et Tremblements. What we see on stage is her imagination in action.
How is the play received in the different countries where you perform it?
L. M.: It was obvious to me that Japan was the best subterfuge to evoke my own Muslim culture. Each of these societies can see themselves in the other without feeling criticized; it was in the goal of this interaction that Amélie Nothomb immediately understood my intentions and gave me her permission; she saw the production and is happy with its progress… Stupeur et Tremblements reminds me of Les lettres persanes by Montesquieu in its attempt to put the principals that govern Western society into perspective by putting them up in front of a foreign view and context and to reveal the differences.
Stupeur et tremblements is presented at Studio 16 from February 17 to 21, 8 PM, with an added prformance Saturday at 4 PM. English surtitles are Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tickets are available online or at 604-736-2616.
INTERVIEW WITH TOM LIGHTBURN
Vancouverites know Tom Lightburn as one of the founders of Festival Cinemas, a local chain recently acquired by Cineplex. But what few people know however, is that this businessman has also been active behind the scenes of the performing for more than ten years as a producer, consultant and promoter. At the moment, he is working with Festival PuSh and Théâtre la Seizième to present Séquence 8 at the Vancouver Playhouse.
In À toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou by Michel Tremblay, Julie Trépanier plays Carmen and France Perras plays Marie-Lou. With just a few days before opening night, we asked the two actors how they respectivaly see each of their characters.
This season, the prolific and eclectic writer Dave Deveau has written Extra-Céleste, a play for young audiences produced by Théâtre la Seizième. He has graciously agreed to meet us between performances of his most recent play, Lowest Common Denominator, rehearsals of Extra-Céleste and his weekly performance at the Apocalypstick Drag Show.
What brought you to dramatic writing? What is attractive to you about writing for the theatre?
During my childhood I was an actor in television and films. I would also write short plays for myself, just for the pleasure of it. So I was very immersed in the theatre and film worlds. Later, I studied literature at Ottawa’s Canterbury School, a high school that specializes in teaching the arts. That is where I wrote my first play and where I discovered my passion for this kind of writing. I naturally pursued post-secondary studies in playwriting, first at York University in Toronto, where I received a Bachelor’s degree, then at the University of British-Columbia, where I received a Master’s degree.
I like the world of possibilities that theatre affords. When you write for television or for film, you have to be concrete, literal. In theatre, it’s a little bit the opposite. There is more room for the imagination, to suggest things and to explore fantasy. We can perform a play on a completely empty stage and if the actors and the story are good, it will still have an impact. The audience plays an important role in the process. They are a different dimension of the play, because much of the story takes place in their heads. I really love this dialogue and this give and take with the audience. I have a conversation with hundreds of people through the pieces that I write! … read more
Spring is springing, as least for artists working with la Seizième! Fresh, burgeoning projects abound! Here’s a little tour of what’s happening in their heads, hearts, and rehearsal halls…
|Susan Miyagishima, the Stage Manager for Des fraises en janvier, as well as for Seizième’s productions of Porc-épic and Le Portrait Gooble, will again be backstage for The Wondrous Tales of Old Japan, from April 4-20 at Carrousel Theatre. This is a show for young audiences, and it depicts a series of traditional Japanese stories.|
|Once he returns from Statu Quo’s cross-country tour, (Statu Quo is yet another Seizième production), Cory Haas will produce and direct the comedy Seminar, by Theresa Rebeck, at Renegade Studios from May 20-24 with his very own Stages Theatre Co.|
|Actress Julie McIsaac, Léa in Des fraises en janvier, will be draping herself in religious cloth for the second time this season. After receiving critical acclaim for her performance in Measure for Measure at Pacific Theatre, she’ll confront herself with Doubt, a TheatreOne production, from May 12 – June 12 in Nanaimo. In Vancouver, Twenty Something Theatre will also present a workshop of Julie’s new play, The out Vigil at Havana Theatre.|
|Mishelle Cuttler, she of the bracing music in Des fraises en janvier, will be composing the soundscape for the Vancouver premeire of Killer Joe, by Vancouver’s ITSAZOO company. Presented from April 15 – May 4 at the Italian Cultural Center, the play delivers an explosive mix of sex, blood, and comedy served up with a side of grits!|
|Marie-Claire Marcotte, who is reprising her role as Sarah in Statu Quo, will be a playwright-in-residence at la Chartreuse, the Centre national des écritures du spectacle, in Villeneuve-les-Avignon in France. There, she will work on Peau, a theatre/movement piece.|
|Dave Deveau, the playwright behind Seizième’s production of Extra-Céleste this season, is reflecting upon intergenerational relationships in Lowest Common Denominator, produced by Zee Zee Theatre. At once funny and touching, this production is being presented at Studio PAL until March 30th.|
It’s another beautiful winter, and the theatrical world is bursting at the seems, whether in our rehearsal hall, where Strawberries in January is taking shape, or in cyberspace, via Vancouver and the Yukon.
|Julie McIsaac is leading a double life these days… During the day, she’s the effervescent Léa in Des fraises en janvier; at night, she’s a morally-tormented nun in Measure for Measure at Pacific Theatre. Don’t dawdle if you want to see her – this classic Shakespearean tale closes February 8.|
|Studio 58 graduate Lauren Jackson will play Sandy (leather jacket and all) in Grease from January 30 to February 23. Once that’s done, she starts rehearsals for Extra-Céleste, a play for young audiences created through Seizième’s dramaturgical development program. At her side will be Dominic Duchesne, another graduate of the prestigious Studio 58.|
|From January 22 to 25, artists Emilie Leclerc (L’Enfant-Problème, Le Portrait Gooble), Christine Quintana and Mishelle Cuttler (Statu Quo, Des fraises en janvier) participated in the third edition of Pull Festival, the PuSh Festival’s illegitimate sibling. A showcase for the next wave of theatre practitioners, it presents blocks of short plays , each lasting no longer than 10 minutes.|
|Christine Quintana, our newest Playwright-in-Residence, just wrote a superb article on the realities of emerging artists for #Cdncult Times, a web magazine focussing on the performing arts during the Internet age. Equally available on this young and dynamic platform is an article on linguistic duality by Jon Lachlan Stewart, the playwright behind Le Portrait Gooble.|
|Anita Rochon, who will direct Extra-Céleste for us this season, has pursued her travels with How to disappear completely, a show produced by her company The Chop Theatre. This touching story about mourning was recently presented at the Yukon Arts Centre in Whitehorse. Seizième will also be at the Yukon Arts Centre in the spring during Statu Quo’s cross-country tour.|