French Toast: Après le bip

Every two years, Nakai Theatre provides an opportunity for professional and non-professional creators to present new, often experimental, works at its Homegrown Theatre Festival.

This year’s festival, which runs May 8 to 13 at the Guild Hall in Porter Creek, will consist of 17 projects of various kinds—plays, readings, musical performances and other offerings.

Some are completely finished, while others are still in the early stages of creation.

Some may even be chosen for presentation at other theatre festivals outside the territory.

Geneviève Doyon is a Nakai Theatre board member. She is also a co-writer and actor in one of this year’s presentations, called Leave a Message (après le bip).

I spoke with her recently.

Leave a Message (après le bip) stars the play’s co-writer, Geneviève Doyon, as Claire Credit PHOTO: Ruth Borgfjord Photography, courtesy Nakai Theatre

VH: Leave a message (après le bip) is the story of Claire, a 25 year old girl, moving from the big city to a small northern community. She meets a strange boy who was born and raised there.

How was Claire, the main character that you are playing, created?

GD: The writing of the play started during another project with Open Pit last summer. We had to do a collective creation and everyone had to write a part of a play.

I created a monologue featuring a girl who was travelling and ended up in a kind of small town. I decided to use this character again for this play.

VH: The play is not in French, but the atmosphere is francophone.

GD: Yes. French is my first language, so when I was writing the play, some expressions, or some of the words were coming to me more naturally. However, the whole action happens in English.

For the writing, I had help from Aislinn Cornett, who made sure my English was OK. More than that, she was the one who clarified some details of the story. For instance, she decided that the action was happening in the North and that Claire was a francophone girl.

We worked mostly together on the writing of the production. Aislinn is also in charge of the stage management. Sam Bergmann-Good, who plays Zac, and Laurie Gendron who will be operating the lights, complete our team.

VH: The second character, Zac, is qualified as being strange. How is he strange?

GD: It’s just hard to size him up. We don’t know so much about him. He is awkward, because there is just mystery around him all the time. Although Leave a Message (après le bip) is the story of Claire, Zac is the supporting character.

VH: What is the main theme of the play ?

GD: In this play, the way that we treat the subjects is more important than the story.

Leave a Message (après le bip) relates the journey of Claire, moving to the North for the first time. However, more important than her story, it’s the theme of what we imagine when we move to the North.

So it’s the clash between expectations and real life. Another theme would be the clash between living in the city or in a small northern community.

Death is also an important theme in the play.

The action goes fast and the whole performance is not played for being realistic. The scenes in the story are interrupted, once in awhile, by the sounds of messages for Claire left on her answering machine while she is away.

The story is serious; nevertheless, the play treats the themes with humor, so the audience coming will seriously have a good time!

Virginie Hamel is a regular contributor to What’s Up Yukon who keeps tab on events in Yukon’s francophone community.

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