La chambre des enfants or the gap between dream and reality!

Child lying on the floor with a sunset background © Jonathan Lorange
Child in a foggy scene standing on a bed holding at arm's length a bed sheet flying in the wind © Jonathan Lorange
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Child sitting down surrounded by a pile of sheet holding a bed sheet in the air over his head © Jonathan Lorange
Three children walking on bed sheets on the floor and inflated naturally by air © Jonathan Lorange

Is it a forest? A troubled sea? Piles of sheets or big rocks? You can stop wondering: it’s simply La chambre des enfants, a play performed entirely by young actors ages 8 to 11. Under the direction of Anne-Marie Ouellet of L’Eau du bain theatre company, these young artists show us their imaginary room, where the boundaries between fantasy and reality are sometimes blurred. Through their performances, we’re invited to navigate, interpret and appreciate both their childlike innocence and their talent. We had the pleasure of meeting them to discover their fascinating universe!

Q. During rehearsals, what was your biggest challenge?

Isaac, age 10 – In the scene with the wolves, I always held my arm too low and I walked too fast. I often had to be reminded to raise my arm. By rehearsing it repeatedly, I finally got it!

Benjamin, age 10 – Pretending to be a rock for nearly 10 minutes, covered with a sheet. It’s boring, because I have to stay on my knees. It feels like a long time. I haven’t found any tricks yet to make it go faster!

Jeanne, age 11 – For a start, with COVID and the masks ... phew! The cancellation of our Quebec City tour was a big blow for me. I remember times in rehearsal when we had to wear a mask and stay two metres apart—it was intense! When you speak into a microphone while wearing a mask, it makes a lot of random noise. It was kind of unpleasant.

Camille, age 11 – The fact that all the scenes are really different. For example, in the sleepwalking scene I have to be fluid, as if I were dancing to music, but there are other scenes where our bodies have to be very tense, where we move in a strangely jerky way. And there are other scenes where it’s hard to tell if we should be tense or relaxed. Sometimes you have to melt, you have to look like a puddle, but you can’t melt too quickly. I think that’s the biggest challenge: knowing where to position yourself and how to do the movements.

Q. How do you feel when you’re on stage?

Isaac, age 10 – I feel stressed. Some scenes are harder. I’m afraid of blowing it. But when you do it and it works, you’re happy, you feel proud, and you know you’re going to succeed the next time. In the end you’ll succeed, you don’t feel stressed anymore. Right now, I think it’s cool. I wouldn’t consider acting as a career, but if I get an opportunity to perform in another show, I’ll take it.

Benjamin, age 10 – I feel normal, I feel fine, not stressed at all. I get along really well with all the team members.

Jeanne, age 11 – I’ve been working on this play for a very long time. When I’m on stage, I feel good, because I love theatre. I’m the one out there on stage, but it’s as if I’m there as my character, and Jeanne stays in the wings.

Charline, age 8 – I feel like I’ m being watched, but I don’t really mind because I know I’m doing this for people. I don’t really feel anxious. I feel good, I feel lucky because there aren’t many people who get to do this play.

Camille, age 11 – I’ve always liked being on stage, because I’m not self-conscious by nature. I really enjoy showing others what I can do, without being a showoff and saying “Look at me!” I really enjoy seeing what others can contribute, and showing others what I can do.

Q. What does your imaginary room look like?

Isaac, age 10 – It’s a big room with lots of bookcases full of books. I love it! There are some trampolines too. A fairly big bed and a big light. Shelves to put my books on and a machine that turns the pages for me. I really enjoy reading The Legendaries, Wings of Fire and La Rose écarlate.

Benjamin, age 11 – It has a welding shop! At the moment I’m making a synthesizer, and I’ve already made pedals for the guitar and my bass. I’m making a plane with really big wings. It’s going to be remote controlled. My father is teaching me, he’s a welder and an engineer.

Jeanne, age 11 – It’s quite big but it has no boundaries. It has a very big bookcase, because I love reading. There’s at least one tree, a real one! It’s a fruit tree for climbing.

Charline, age 8 – It’s big, with lots of light and windows everywhere. There’s one bed and lots of comic books. I like comics a lot.

Camille, age 11 – It’s a fairly spacious room, but not too big—I don’t like rooms that are too big. It’s very bright—I hate it when it’s dark. It has a really relaxed feel. I don’t like rooms that are like boarding school rooms, that have a little bed and a chest of drawers. I like it when it’s a mess, but an organized mess. If everything is super tidy, it looks more like an office than a bedroom. I think that’s what’s important in a bedroom: that it not make you feel stressed.

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