RustWerk co-founder, Zach Fraser, directs his own adaptation of Chester Brown’s seminal work, Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, bringing the Métis hero’s story to life with simple two-dimensional black and white puppets and props, animated by five performers playing multiple roles. Any community living as a minority struggling to protect its place within a larger society will appreciate this unique and compelling tale; a rare treat for graphic novel fans, history buffs, and puppet lovers of all ages too.
First performed at Montreal’s Théâtre La Chapelle, the animated retelling of Manitoba’s founder who fought to preserve his people’s rights and culture, was nominated for seven 2016 Montreal English Theatre Awards (METAs) and won three: Outstanding Independent Production, Outstanding New Text or Adaptation, and Outstanding Ensemble.
“A constant and endlessly inventive source of delight.”
– Jim Burke, Montreal Gazette
This live-action puppet epic takes an intrepid look at some of our nation’s founders as it steams through early Canadian history, revealing a rugged and treacherous landscape both in life and politics. Despite Riel’s troubling visions and personal discussions with God, he was a gifted leader in a time when defying the dominant society was a treacherous affair. Part adventure story, part history lesson, and completely fascinating, Louis Riel; A Comic-Strip Stage Play is charged with controversy and irreverence in its depiction of Canada’s historical figures and RustWerk’s eerily naïve, yet remarkably evocative, puppets are right off the page, a tribute to the vibrant and stunning artistry of Chester Brown.
“À ne pas manquer.”
– Françine Grimaldi, Radio-Canada
Zach Fraser said, “It’s always a treat to have an opportunity to revisit a show and take it to the next level—there are always elements you’d love to refine—we’re thrilled to give this show another life. A few years ago, we brought our show, …and stockings for the ladies, to HVT. It’s such a charming theatre and so apropos that the story unfolds when the Canadian railway was being constructed and here we are performing in this historic, still-active train station. I’ve been teaching at John Abbott College for several years and have several students from Hudson, so it’s very special for us to perform here.”
RustWerk has been working hard to give the show an extended life. As a result, this fall the troupe heads west to perform a theatre-for-young-audiences version of the show at the Batoche National Historic Site (Saskatchewan) and the Franco-Centre (Iqaluit, Nunavut) and the full-length version may be presented later on in Ottawa. RustWerk has been chatting with Canadian venues near and far and Fraser hopes that the Hudson run is just the beginning.
Jon Lachlan Stewart is a chameleon-like, bilingual actor, director, playwright, choreographer, and sound designer known for his one-man show Big Shot(Centaur Theatre Wildside Festival (English) and Théâtre Prospero (French)). He has appeared in Repercussion Theatre’s Harry the King (Montreal), Travesties (Segal Centre, Montreal), The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia (Citadel Theatre, Edmonton), and Des fraises en janvier (L’UniThéâtre, Edmonton), among others. He reprises his roles in Louis Riel along with Anne Lalancette, a passionate puppeteer since 2006 who works in both French and English on stage, (The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan, and The Umbrella with The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Calgary), as well as on television (Radio-Canada’s Prière de ne pas envoyer de fleurs, René Simard puppet, and the Robax commercial marionettes) and in film (NFB’s From Naughty to Nice and Sale Gueule from Dock Films).
Of the other three actors new to the production, two of them are Aboriginal. Blayne McLeod (Cree-Scottish) is from Wabasca-Desmarais, Alberta, and is a recent graduate from Toronto’s 3-year program at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Jocelyne Sioui (Huron-Wendat) in the title role of Riel, is the Artistic Director of the theatre troupe, Belzébrute, and founder of OUF! Festival Off Casteliers, whose dynamic and inventive creations have toured across Canada and in France, where his Shavirez, le Tsigane des mers won the Coup de Coeur Prize at the 2013 World Festival of Puppet Theatres in Charleville-Mézières. Julie Tamiko Manning, a bilingual sansei (3rd generation Japanese Canadian) rounds out the diverse cast. She has performed in theatres across Canada and written two plays: Mixie and the Halfbreeds with Adrienne Wong and The Tashme Project, a verbatim play, she co-created and performed with Matt Miwa. Fraser added, “It’s always exciting and surprising to see what new artists bring to a project, so this production kind of feels like a remount and a premiere!”
Manon St-Jules provided the French translations and Blayne McLeod contributed some of the Plains Cree translations. RustWerk ReFinery co-founder, Attila Clemann, was the Creative Consultant and Dramaturge on this production as well as the Carpenter. The set was designed by Romain Fabre with lighting by Luc Prairie and his assistant, Jon Cleveland, and the original score by Tristan Capacchione. Claude Lemelin stage manages, assisted by Isabel Quintero Faia, and Tryistynn Duheme is the troupe’s Technical Production Manager.
Hudson Village Theatre
28 Wharf Road, J0P 1H0
2pm matinée – Sept. 6, 7, 9 and 10
8pm evening – Sept. 6, 7, 8 and 9
$39.94 including tax & service charges
Group rates available (contact the HVT Box Office)