Le problème avec le rose
The colour of chaos
“This is no time for playing. Everyone’s staring at us.”
Alix, in Le problème avec le rose (translated)
The trouble with pink is that it’s everywhere! Just open your mouth—see what we mean? So if people think pink is just for girls, things get complicated, right?
(Pink is for girls? Pffft! Nonsense! Yes, but what if?)
In this show by Érika Tremblay-Roy and Christophe Garcia, this is the subject that divides four friends, who have never known a minute’s worry in their comfortable and... pink play space.
By the way...
Theatre is for reading, too! Have a look at Érika Tremblay-Roy’s script and—friendly tip—keep the fun going by exploring the playwright’s entire body of work!
Written and directed by: Érika Tremblay-Roy / Choreographed and directed by: Christophe Garcia / With Maria Cargnelli, Maxime Lepage, Marc-André Poliquin and Alexandre Tondolo / Coproduction: Le Petit Théâtre de Sherbrooke and La [parenthèse] / Christophe Garcia
The story goes that the play Le problème avec le rose (“the trouble with pink”) was inspired by a huge pink carpet the artists saw in a store and bought on the spot, convinced that they had to create a show about it.
Of course, a stage show requires a lot of work, and it develops in several steps, each of which allows us to go deeper into the subject—what we want to say—and the form—how we want to say it. But it takes a trigger, a starting spark that sets the imagination in motion; and sometimes, that spark can be an object!
Julia Morlot is the set designer who created the show’s all-pink environment. She shares with us a few tips about her job as a set designer to inspire you to create your own moodboard.
And now, over to you! Pretend you’re getting ready to design the set or costumes for a show whose theme is a colour of your choice, and start making your own personalized inspiration board, also called a mood board. With the help of images of all kinds, the inspiration board lets you gather your ideas and put together the elements of your imaginary universe.
Three pro tips for creating your inspiration board:
1. Collect images that you like, that inspire you (in magazines, on the Internet, etc.). For example, see here a board on Pinterest that brings together the images that Julia Morlot collected at the very beginning of her research for the scenography of the show Le problème avec le rose.
2. Find materials that interest you and collect them! You can also create a color chart of the chosen color.
3. Make some sketches to visualize your ideas. Julia Morlot shows us for example some sketches/collages made at the beginning of her work.
Psst! Don’t forget to give your show a title… and send us photos of your creations!
Five surprising or little-known facts about pink:
- According to Michel Pastoureau, a leading colour historian (yes, there is such a thing!), “For a long time, pink as such didn’t exist.” People used to talk about incarnate, which means “flesh”; or skin tone; or light red. Like Sasha’s character in the show, who, wanting to distance himself from pink for fear of what people will think, prefers to say “Light Red”.
- Originally, pink was considered a masculine colour. If you look at medieval or Renaissance paintings, you’ll see that kings or noblemen often wear an article of pink clothing. Women, on the other hand, are most often dressed in blue, the colour of the Virgin Mary.
- You may be surprised to learn that among all the pinks in the Pantone* colour chart, there’s one quite special one: Pantone 219C, or Barbie Doll Pink, has been registered by the Mattel toy company! It’s absolutely true. (*Universal colour code used in graphic design and printing)
- Though pink has long been associated in the West with gentleness and tenderness, it also has a wilder side! Pink has punch, and can be found as much in political demonstrations as in music aimed at rebellious youth, from punk to hip-hop. (Source: Online exhibition on the history of pink).
- Another colour specialist, Jean-Gabriel Causse, tells us: “Research has shown that if you paint the walls of a kindergarten classroom pink, the children’s drawings are more upbeat and joyful. The suns are bigger, the clouds are fewer, the smiles are wider. Children see life through rose-coloured glasses! It’s very real, and that expression takes on its full meaning.” (Translated from an interview in La Presse).
Finally, take a look at these very different versions of what a rose-coloured life could be:
- The Pink Phink, an animated short starring the Pink Panther that won an Oscar in 1965
- Pink Balls, a public art installation by Claude Cormier that brightened up a section of Sainte-Catherine Street in Montreal for many years
- Strange but true: In 2019, a tiny house perched atop an abandoned Montreal factory was painted pink by a person or persons unknown
Photo below: To learn more about these very special pink hats, click here.
What about you? What’s your favourite colour?
What colour do you feel like on the inside?
Stéphanie Boyer collects questions: both big and small. Echoing three young people who also ask themselves quite a lot of interrogations, she explains the basics of a philosophical discussion.
*In French only
Ready to approach the question of gender identity from a philosophical angle? As Stéphanie Boyer says, all subjects lend themselves to this approach. She can even guide you to do it, with En orbite dans la Philosphère (workshop offered in French)
Everyone is born with the attributes of a sex (a penis, a vulva, sometimes neither, sometimes both... did you know?). Depending on our sex at birth, we are identified as either a boy or a girl. Gender identity is more about how we feel: male, female, or neither...
Who decides what it means to be a guy or a girl?
Do other people’s perceptions influence who you are?
“Girls do better in school; boys are better at sports. Girls are sensitive; boys don’t cry...” Clichés? Preconceptions? From the moment we’re born, society influences us with broad generalizations about what a girl and a boy should be. When we’re too quick to assign certain character traits to genders in order to differentiate them, we lock people into expected roles and behaviours. The result? These stereotypes isolate people and contribute to their feelings of exclusion and rejection.
What happens if you don’t agree with the arbitrary differences between boys and girls?
What would help you feel better about yourself?
Sexism is the belief that someone of the opposite sex is inferior or weaker. The impact of sexism is felt throughout our society and is the cause of many inequalities, both at home and at work. Did you know that in Canada, even today, a woman earns less than a man for work of equal value?
- Issue 12 of the online magazine Le Curieux, for everything you always wanted to know about gender. In French
(Magazine must be purchased; discount for teachers!)
- Assigned Male: Online comic by Sophie Labelle about Stéphie, a transgendered 11-year-old.
- Artsy Boys and Smelly Girls: Book by Élise Gravel about gender stereotyping.
Here are some suggestions to continue your exploration:
- An interview with Érika Tremblay-Roy, author and director of Le problème avec le rose. (In French)
- En orbite dans la Philosphère: philosophical workshop with Stéphanie Boyer to address themes related to gender identity. (In French)
Reading list (French-language resources)
- Boris Brindamour et la robe orange, Christine Baldacchino and Isabelle Malenfant, Bayard Jeunesse, 2015 (picture book, ages 4–8)
- La princesse qui voulait devenir générale, Sophie Bienvenu and Camille Pomerlo, Les Éditions De La Bagnole, 2017 (novel, ages 8+)
- Nous sommes tous des féministes (French-language adaptation for young readers of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk “We Should All Be Feminists”) Gallimard-Jeunesse 2020 (picture book, ages 10+)
- Fé M Fé, Amélie Dumoulin, Québec Amérique, 2015 (novel, ages 12+)