Interview with Raes Calvert

Raes is a Métis theatre artist from Vancouver. He is a co-founder and co-artistic director of Hardline Productions and is excited to premier his new show Redpatch in the spring of 2017. Recently returning from touring the USA with Presentation House Theatre's production of  Where the Wild Things Are, Raes is excited to be working with Fugue Theatre for the first time. Raes is a graduate of Studio 58. He plays the role of Jean Baptiste in Les Filles du Roi.

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Tell me about the character you play in Les Filles du Roi?

I play the character of Jean Baptiste. He is an important figure in his Mohawk community, as he is a representative that trades with the French, English and Dutch. One thing I find amazing about this character is his ability to adapt. He is resourceful, careful, and guarded, and is proud of where he has come from. He is young and still has lots to learn, yet he is also wise and cares deeply for his sister Kateri, who will soon be a leader of their people.

What is most compelling to you about this character? What is most challenging?

The most compelling thing about my character is his ability to adapt to his surroundings. He knows three or four different languages, because of the people whom he trades with. He is an adept traveller, skilled in wilderness survival, and is also loyal to his family, particularly his sister Kateri.

As I’m finding the intricacies of this character, I’m noticing how Jean Baptiste negotiates his desires, especially when he knows that what he wants may not work out in his favour. The most challenging thing about my character is trying to understand some of the choices he makes and deciding why he makes those decisions.

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

I am looking forward to working with artists that i have not worked with before, as well as working with Corey Payette and Julie McIsaac again. I am excited to be part of a new Canadian work that features Indigenous characters and tells their story in a meaningful way. Also, having the opportunity to sing in this production and further develop that aspect of my artistic practice is exciting to me.

What resonates most with you in this story? 

The fact that I am Métis myself gives me a strong, personal connection to Jean Baptiste, who is half Mohawk and half French. Another thing that resonates with me, is that the characters in Les Filles du Roi are facing challenges that are both historical and contemporary: being trapped in abusive relationships, having to make sacrifices for loved ones or for your community, and more. Much of this story is about surviving struggle, and how it challenges us to adapt, to persevere in a world that is not always kind or easy to navigate.

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.