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Claude Guilmain lives his American dream at the NAC

© Marianne Duval

Part historical saga, part comedy of manners, deconstructs the American dream through the quest for happiness and the personal dramas of the Cardinals, a French-Canadian family who lived through the America of John F. Kennedy, the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the war in Afghanistan.

Claude Guilmain also designed the ingenious set, and codirects (with Louise Naubert) this ambitious multimedia show, which has been extensively reworked since Parts 1 and 2 were staged at Zones Théâtrales in 2015.

“When we present the show in April, it will be really relevant in terms of what’s happening right now,” says Guilmain, who drew on current events, his own experience, and his own family (including a mysterious grandfather who disappeared in New York in 1942) to weave this very personal story.

The trilogy is the most ambitious project to date for Théâtre la Tangente, a small company co-founded by Claude Guilmain and Louise Naubert in 1994 to create and stage original French language works in Toronto.

“The pinnacle is being at the National Arts Centre as part of Brigitte [Haentjens]’s season,” says Guilmain, who is keenly aware that the move to the prestigious NAC national stage could help this Franco-Ontarian production enjoy the success it deserves. “We’re all delighted, and we hope the show will have a future, be it in Montreal, at festivals or elsewhere.”

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