Interview with Cate Richardson

Cate Richardson is an actor/singer/violinist from Nanaimo, and a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts. Favourite theatre credits include Castle in the Sky (Castlereigh Theatre Project), Mozart & Salieri (Seven Tyrants Theatre), and The Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular (Razzle Dazzle Productions). She is playing the role of Marie Jeanne in Les Filles du Roi.

Who do you play in Les Filles du Roi?

Marie Jeanne is a young girl from France who has been chosen to travel to the colony of New France, to marry and begin a new life. She has all kinds of dreams and expectations about this new life, but I think she has many questions and doubts too. When she arrives, her experiences in New France are not at all what she had expected.

I’ve only just been introduced to Marie Jeanne but I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into the character. Her life experience is different from mine in so many ways, but I identify with her gumption and resilience. She comes into a situation full of hopes and dreams, and when those dreams begin to fade and break, she doesn’t placidly accept her new fate. She wrestles – successfully or otherwise – with some enormous challenges, and finds a way to raise her voice. Even when that voice isn’t heard, she continues to push and resist and fight. That’s a pretty amazing characteristic for someone who is up against so much, and I love her for it. I think audiences will too.

What is most compelling about Marie Jeanne as a character? What is most challenging?

In addition to the resiliency and strength that I mentioned earlier, Marie Jeanne is also extremely vulnerable. She is carrying the weight of many different burdens. The patriarchal oppression she faces as a woman are compounded by her poverty, the loss of her sister, and her isolation. These burdens affect the way she lives and relates to people, but the way she manages to continue fighting is remarkable, and relevant to women contending to similar struggles in contemporary society.

I’ll be curious about how the character will evolve during this process. I have many questions about her background. Why did she end up coming to New France? What enthralled her about the new colony, and what scares her? What led her to have the strong convictions she has?

What are you looking forward to as you begin this process?

I am looking forward to seeing French and Mohawk characters interact, and witnessing how they find ways of communicating in spite of and because of their differences. I’m currently in my third year of a degree in social work, and colonization and the centuries-long implications of that process are at the forefront of a lot of Canadian social work pedagogy. This show speaks to those issues as they were first beginning in what is now Canada, and highlights many of the intersecting discriminations, including those that Marie Jeanne, as a young woman, would experience. I am hoping to bring my (limited but growing) knowledge of those problems to the script, and look forward to seeing how that manifests in the workshop.

The in-concert presentation of Les Filles du Roi takes place November 4 & 5, 7pm at the Orpheum Annex. Admission is free. Click here for Facebook event.