Les Filles du Roi

Interview with Jeff Gladstone

Jeff Gladstone has performed on stages across Canada including Bard on the Beach, Arts Club, Vancouver Playhouse, Belfry Theatre, Theatre Calgary, Prairie Theatre Exchange and many more. Jeff got his start in Calgary where he learned improv with Keith Johnstone, and is a teacher and ensemble member with Vancouver TheatreSports League. Film & television credits include iZombie, Motive, Second Chance, and the upcoming feature Drawing Home. A three time Jessie nominee, Jeff recently played Cassio in Othello and Dionyza in Pericles at Bard on the Beach, performed with Colin Mochrie at The Vogue, and produced the celebrated podcast The Life Game on CBC Radio. Jeff is playing the role of Clarke in Les Filles du Roi.

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

Clarke is an English spy entrenched in the French camp. He is masquerading as Joseph Toussaint, a French trader.

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

It's so much fun to play a spy - a character who presents themselves as something that isn't quite what or who they are. Clarke has secret objectives that drive everything he does, and is hiding something from everyone. It's always a great challenge to take on an unsavory character, find their charm and expose their vulnerability.

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

It's a rich and complex story, rooted in our nation’s history, specifically the parts of it that some people would rather forget. Plus, the music is gorgeous.

How long have you been involved in the creation process of this show?

This is my first time working with the Les Filles du Roi script, although I've worked with the team on other projects. I wrote Out Like Flynn for Fugue Theatre 8 years ago, which was the first musical ever commissioned by the company. Out Like Flynn was about Hollywood actor Errol Flynn’s famed last night in Vancouver in 1959. I wrote and composed it over two years, and it was nominated for the award for outstanding original script at the 2008 Jessie Awards. Laura Di Cicco produced and performed in that show, and Julie McIsaac also performed in it. Corey Payette and I worked on a murder mystery show I wrote for the Wrecking Ball Cabaret at the Vogue Theatre in 2011.

 

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.

 

 

Discovering a family connection to les filles du roi

This summer, Julie McIsaac, co-writer of Les Filles du Roi, made an exciting discovery: that she herself is a descendent of a fille du roi. Here, she shares her story of this unexpected personal connection to the historical world of the play.

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When I was in elementary school – probably around ten or eleven years old – I remember going over to my grandmother’s house to interview her for a school project.  We were to find out about our family’s history, and I remember feeling uncomfortable sitting there in the afternoon quiet, just the two of us at the dining room table.  Typically I would be visiting my Mémère’s house in the company of some thirty-plus relatives, and if you get any more than three of my ma tantes together, it’s a party.  Imagine book & lyrics by Michel Tremblay, with music by Dolly Parton… that’s sort of the right feel.  

So I was suddenly shy, reluctant to ask my Mémère some of the questions on the assignment sheet.  My Pépère had died only a couple years before, and I wanted to avoid mentioning him; I didn’t want to make her sad.  And maybe that’s why I didn’t dig into his side of the family very much, I can’t quite remember.  What I do know is that since then, I’ve always thought that my mother’s ancestors came over from France in the mid-1700s.  

Then this summer, sitting in the passenger’s seat of my mom’s car, as we’re driving past the gravel road that leads to the site of the “Robitaille homestead” where my grandfather was born, she tosses a book into my lap, something that her uncle Louis has recently self-published.  I begin flipping through it, and immediately recognize places, faces, photos – and all those names that made me laugh as a child: Urgel, Velma, Albertine...

My mother is one of ten children, and though that makes for a big extended family, most of her relatives have lived their entire lives in and around our hometown, so for the most part, I know the people in these pages, or at least I know of them.  But when I get to the last page of the book, I pause.  There’s something I haven’t seen before.  A genealogy tracing the Robitaille line back to the 1600s.  And there he is, Jean Robitaille, marrying Marguerite Buletez in Quebec, 1670.  

I’ve never heard of this Jean Robitaille.  Which is odd, seeing as my mother carries his name inside her own: Jeanne Robitaille.  And Marguerite?  Never heard of her before, either.  And then, hey, wait a minute.  1670.  That’s right smack in the middle of the French government’s les filles du roi initiative.  Could this Marguerite be…?  

As one does in these moments of wonder, I turn to Google. 

And turns out, the answer is yes.

 

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.

Announcing expanded Indigenous collaboration for Les Filles du Roi

Canada Council funding supports collaboration with Mohawk community

Co-creators  Julie McIsaac  and  Corey Payette  in a reconstructed Iroquois long-house circa 1450 in Tsiionhiakwatha Archeaological Site, Saint-Anicet, Quebec. Thanks to Michel Cadieux (Archaeologist) for his hosting.

Co-creators Julie McIsaac and Corey Payette in a reconstructed Iroquois long-house circa 1450 in Tsiionhiakwatha Archeaological Site, Saint-Anicet, Quebec. Thanks to Michel Cadieux (Archaeologist) for his hosting.

First-time funding from the Canada Council allowed Fugue Theatre Society to support co-creators Julie McIsaac and Corey Payette in research that took place in Quebec and New York State this September. There, they began a collaboration process with Mohawk community and Elders to expand Indigenous input in the development of the upcoming trilingual musical, Les Filles du Roi. This work marks a significant step forward for Fugue Theatre by directly linking the company’s drive for artistic excellence with its mandate to promote equity and diversity within Canadian theatre. 

Funding from the Canada Council supports the overall development of the show. As the project continues, it will allow Fugue to hire a Quebec-based Indigenous outreach coordinator. Their role will be to provide guidance on Mohawk cultural protocols, prepare relationships with community and to seek potential collaborators, such as language experts, story keepers and Elders. Indigenous composer\playwright\actor Corey Payette followed a similar process with the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc in the development of his musical, Children of God, which premiers at the National Arts Centre in 2017.  In continuing their research, the artistic team hopes to incorporate Mohawk language into the script to create a trilingual musical.

A concert presentation is scheduled for November 4 & 5th at The Annex Theatre in Vancouver, and will include talk-backs from community.

 

Les Filles du Roi May Workshop

Exciting new directions...

Hello everyone,

We wanted to share some photos and news from our latest workshop for Les Filles du Roi, which took place May 16-20, 2016 at the Italian Cultural Centre.

The focus of this workshop week was character development and fine-tuning the first 20 pages of the script. Co-creators Julie McIsaac and Corey Payette worked with dramaturge Anita Rochon and a cast of wonderful actors to explore the draft and flesh out characters. By the end of the week, an eager audience confirmed that the characters and stories really are coming to life. We're especially excited that the character of Katari, a young Mohawk girl, is emerging as one of the focal points of Les Filles du Roi.  After the excerpt, we polled the audience to see which character they were the most curious about, and the unanimous choice was Katari.  That's very exciting for us, as we continue to explore our collaboration between Settler and Indigenous viewpoints. We also heard that audiences are fascinated by the history of les filles du roi. Many shared that they had read about les filles in school, but were now coming to learn just how much was missing from these accounts. We even had two audience members whose own families traced back to this history!

I think I speak for the entire Fugue Team (and the audience at the reading!) when I say that I can't wait to find out where the story goes next.

Here are some photos I snapped at the workshop. From left to right, you'll see Anita Rochon, Kevin Loring, Laura Di Cicco, Robyn Wallis, Kaitlyn Yott, Jesse Martin, Corey Payette and Julie McIsaac. Hope you enjoy, and stay tuned for more!

Barbara, for The Fugue Team