French theatre presents : Le dire de Di
January 31–February 3, 2018, at 8 p.m., NAC Azrieli Studio
“The precise, meticulous writing is composed like a musical score
to be performed in movement. Ouellette’s words provide an impetus;
they inhabit Marie-Ève Fontaine’s body.
It’s a very demanding work, but extremely rewarding.”
Joël Beddows, director
OTTAWA, January 15, 2018 — The NAC French Theatre season pursues its luminous creative trajectory with a work that showcases the talents of two proudly Franco-Ontarian artists: playwright Michel Ouellette and director Joël Beddows. A new artistic collaboration between two creators whose previous joint projects include La fille d’argile, Frères d’hiver and Le testament du couturier.
Sixteen-year-old Di lives in the rambling family house, lost among the fields and woods. She exists there in a kind of reverie, together with her beloved mother, Makati, her dreamer of a father, Paclay, and her mother’s second husband, the handsome Mario Morneau.
The arrival of Peggy Bellatus and her terrifying, destructive mining machines turns their world upside down, as hidden desires and secrets begin to erode their amazing and fragile equilibrium.
Di is eager to tell her story. And that story is a fairy tale, a fable that shifts between harsh realities (clearcutting, expropriation, blended families) and wondrous phenomena (conversations with birds, the thunderbolt of a fleeting glance, the evanescence of adolescence).
Generous by nature, Di wants to share it all with us! From a trompe-l’oeil set enhanced by evocative lighting, she astonishes us with the multiple characters she portrays in a vertiginous spiral of words.
Di is played by the radiant Marie‑Ève Fontaine, an actor and puppeteer originally from Saint Boniface, Manitoba, and now based in Ottawa. Memorable roles include Virginie in Gilles Poulin‑Denis’ Dehors (presented at the NAC in March–April 2017), Lili in Michel Ouellette’s La fille d’argile, and Olivia in Lisa L’Heureux’s Ciseaux. She won the 2015 Prix Rideau award for Best Emerging Artist, and the following year she received the Roland Mahé–National Bank Award from the Fondation pour l’avancement du théâtre francophone au Canada. In January 2016, she conceived, wrote and directed a play called La création for Les Chiens de soleil, the student theatre company at the University of Saint Boniface.
In French Theatre’s Cahier Onze, Marie‑Ève described her initial meeting with her character, Di: “By way of first contact, I recalled a childhood memory: a young Me leaping impulsively into a lake to see how warm the water was. A shriek of surprise: it was icy cold! It would have been smarter to dip my toe in, but where’s the fun in that? I like to think Di would enjoy that memory. I invite her to join in and play with Me.”
Written by Michel Ouellette // Directed by Joël Beddows // With Marie‑Ève Fontaine // Assistant director: Jean‑Nicolas Masson // Sets: Michael Spence // Lighting: Guillaume Houët // Soundscape: Thomas Sinou // Choreography: Marie‑Josée Chartier // Production direction and stage management: Natalie Gisele // Tour direction: Kyle Ahluwalia
Coproduced by Théâtre français de Toronto and Théâtre la Catapulte
Running time approximately 1 hour and 25 minutes
BOOK LAUNCH AND INTERVIEW
Wednesday January 31 at 6:30 p.m. in the NAC City Room
The NAC French Theatre team invites you to celebrate the launch of the play Le dire de Di, published by Éditions Prise de parole.
Jonathan Lorange hosts a conversation between playwright Michel Ouellette and director Joël Beddows.
The event will be followed by a book signing, and the Librairie du soleil bookstore will have a sales counter on site.
Michel Ouellette | A native of Smooth Rock Falls in northern Ontario, Michel Ouellette has been a writer for 30 years and is the author of over 40 literary works in various genres. He holds a PhD in French literature from the University of Ottawa. His stage plays include La guerre au ventre (2011 Michel Tremblay Prize, Fondation du Centre des auteurs dramatiques), Le testament du couturier (2003 Trillium Literary Award) and French Town (1994 Governor General’s Literary Award). In 1995, he received a prize from the Consulate General of France in Toronto “for the contribution of his work to Francophone literature in Ontario.” He was a guest of honour at the 2017 Salon du livre de l’Outaouais, representing Ontario’s Francophonie. His most recent books published by Éditions Prise de Parole are a poetry anthology (Pliures, 2016), a novel (Trompeuses lumières, 2017) and a stage play (Le dire de Di, 2018).
Joël Beddows | Joël Beddows is a director, dramaturgical consultant, teacher and researcher. He is the former artistic director of Théâtre la Catapulte in Ottawa (1998–2010) and chair of the University of Ottawa Theatre Department (2011–16); in July 2016 he was appointed artistic director of Théâtre français de Toronto. Over the past two decades he has pursued daring creative experiments in which social critique, poetry and symbolism intersect. Whether directing a brand new play, a work drawn from the canon, or a production for young audiences, he considers every project an opportunity for research and development. The NAC has presented five of his productions: Avant l’archipel by Emily Pearlman, Visage de feu by Marius von Mayenburg, Petites bûches by Jean‑Philippe Lehoux, Le chien by Jean Marc Dalpé, and La société de Métis by Normand Chaurette. Besides Le dire de Di, he has directed three of Michel Ouellette’s plays: La fille d’argile, Frères d’hiver and Le testament du couturier.