All-female, francophone cast takes the stage at NACC this week
Absurd French theatre returns to Yellowknife this week in the form of two performances of French play Les Voisins, written by Claude Meunier and Louis Saia.
This is the second time Les Voisins has been performed in Yellowknife, the first being in 1995. This time, the performance – the first francophone show in the city since last year – has an all-female cast.
Put on by the Association Franco-Culturelle de Yellowknife (AFCY), Les Voisins is a two-act performance from the ‘80s about three suburban couples who struggle in a world of social disconnect and overconsumption. The neighbours plan an awkward get-together with forced socialization and a whole lot of drama.
The cast is looking forward to performing for the francophone community, a group they describe as “small but amazing.”
Laurence Bonin, who plays the role of Georges in Les Voisins, was the one to get the group together.
“I got the funding from AFCY and I invited people to a meeting to discuss what the project would be, and what kind of play we would do, and how people would be involved,” she said.
“We had 15 or 18 people at the first meeting. It was really nice to have that excitement for French theatre in Yellowknife.”
Although the francophone community is reported to make up less than three percent of the Yellowknife population, the group feels a strong sense of culture.
“It’s amazing. It’s really nice because when we talk about culture, it’s about having fun in our language, and it’s nice to share references and jokes that are specific to francophone people,” said Geneviève Charron, who plays the role of Luce.
“All the people in the play are really fun to be around, and it’s a great place to be doing it.
“The North is the land of opportunities. Maybe if I was in Montreal, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to be in a play, because there’s so many people who want to do it.
“Yellowknife is the best place for opportunities. All the doors are open.”
‘Just a bunch of women doing theatre’
Bonin describes Les Voisins as “absurd, sexist and outdated, but funny and ridiculous. It’s a critique as well.”
She said: “It’s a criticism of suburban life, where appearance and consumerism is more important than human contacts.
“We can really identify ourselves to that, because with social media and whatnot, sometimes human contact can be lost. So even though this takes place in the ’80s, it’s still accurate.”
The actress plays a male role, adding to the “ridiculous” nature of the performance.
“There’s a lot of sexist comments but we’re all women, we’re women playing men, which makes it even more ridiculous,” said Bonin.
Four of the play’s eight characters are male.
“Being an all-female cast has been really fun. We’re amateurs, but it’s fun. We’re just a bunch of women doing theatre,” Bonin said.
The director of Les Voisins, Annie Larochelle, was excited to have an all-female cast for her first time directing a play.
“It’s really incredible. It’s a fun group of people and it’s a great community,” she said.
The cast has rehearsed almost 50 times since November in preparation for performing at NACC.
Bonin was “shocked” to see seat sales for the show, and expects a high turnout.
“Last week, we heard there were only 16 tickets bought for Friday,” she said. “Today, I heard there were 89 for Friday and 60 for Thursday, so it’s going to be good.”
The show will have an exhibition in the main foyer for audience members to look at before entering the theatre. It includes archives from the play’s 1995 performance and comparisons to this year’s play.
Les Voisins will be performed at NACC on Thursday and Friday at 7:30pm. Visit the NACC website to buy tickets and learn more about the show.