As an official media partner of the 30th annual St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival, Montreal Theatre Hub brings the #FringeBuzz in 2021 with an all-new interview series with artists from this year’s edition of the fest! In this Snapshot, we feature JOAN BERNIER – playwright and performer of Snake & Rod Theatre’s THE CAPTAIN. Read our Q&A with the creator of the digital show, which is now playing on demand on FringeTV until June 20th.
MONTREAL THEATRE HUB: What is The Captain about?
JOAN: A woman explores lineage, kinship and how to navigate in a starless sky. As The Arctic heads further North, snow and ice blanket the deck of the ship and the troubling history of Northern Expansionism begins to unfurl. Inspired by the life of Captain J.E. Bernier (Explorer & Navigator of Québec 1852-1934). Written in collaboration with David Ford. Performed by Joan Bernier. Directed by David Ford.
MTH: What can audiences expect from the experience of seeing it?
JOAN: We are going on a voyage. It’s 1925. Port side, we meet a 20th century Sea Captain from Québec who shaped the North of Canada. On our Starboard side, we meet an Inuit leader, a member of this new nation, Canada. His journey home is perilous, with widespread consequences.
MTH: What was the idea and inspiration behind the piece?
JOAN: While quickly thumbing through a biography of a Sea Captain who shared my last name, a moment stopped me in my tracks: A boy stood tied to the bow of a ship. Each time the bow plunged into the sea, he was nearly drowned. His father lashed him to the bows’ anchor winch in an effort to cure him of seasickness. This was the boy’s first voyage as crew. I fell to my knees, “Yep – we’re related” and there began my journey with The Captain.
MTH: Why did you choose the Fringe as the place to premiere this work?
JOAN: Captain J.E. Bernier is from Québec. It has always been my intention to bring his story home. This excerpt is the launching place for his story. The full length play will be performed (in-person…I hope) next summer, in the 2022 Montreal Fringe.
MTH: What has it been like trying to create a show during a pandemic?
JOAN: Improvisation, Duct Tape & Pullys. A backyard green screen, kids pitching in on stage effects, Zoom direction with David Ford – exciting, enriching and challenging.
Image courtesy of Snake & Rod Theatre
Joan Bernier is an actor/playwright who writes/performs in the San Francisco Bay Area. An excerpt of her previous play, Haditha, was seen at B.A.S.H./Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Joan trained at San Francisco State, Berkeley Rep and The Marsh in San Francisco in Solo Performance with David Ford. She is thrilled to share this excerpt of The Captain with his home province. The full story will sail in next summer, at the St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe 2022.
Read here all of the interviews in the Fringe Artist Snapshots series: