Voices – Témoignages

From the ActorsDes spectateursOn Tour

From the Actors:

September.  Tintamarre starts.  “They are all older than I am, and they are Canadians. Oh, God!  Where am I?”  “OK, now, what am I doing?  Playing a non-living bus part with a bad temper?”  Going through all these thoughts I come to the most important one : “I love it!” (…) Sackville became wonderful to me! It was amazing, every second of our production! From very first to very last!  If there is a last second, because Bus 36 is everywhere!  And the destination is unknown!  “All I need is a little help from my friends.”

Un comédien : Little did I realize I had entered an actual bilingual realm. It exists!  It works!

Tintamarre shows were part of my secondary school education.  It was a superb idea to present fun, original, bilingual plays to young audiences as a language-learning tool.  When you see college kids transformed on stage into a hilarious variety of characters with a colourful set and lively music, you want to understand the story, to share the experience.

As much as we are hoping to  bring some light to an important issue, and as much as we are hoping to open up discussion in schools, we are doing the same for each other.

A case study of our cast could explore the beginnings of a bilingual social group.

I’m learning so much about communicating, and about groups.  And about staying open.  To shut off with each other – on stage or off – or with our audience is to end a journey before it has even started.

Une comédienne : I want to be a teacher, and this experience kind of confirmed this.

It’s not the total number of spectators in an audience that pops into my head afterward, but the looks on faces after a particularly absurd or touching part of the show,  or the thoughtful questions during discussion that let us know that someone was really pondering our process and messages.  It’s the reactions of surprise, curiosity, elation… of engagement, of the energy exchange (…) surprising us and maybe themselves with their reaction to what was happening on stage.

I’m excited that there were those who picked up the show’s message about consumerism and capitalism and those other ‘isms’ I have discussed and written about in my university courses.

There is so much about Tintamarre that is inspirational : an opportunity to act in French even with very limited language experience, a chance to act in a comfortable environment (again, no experience necessary) which is absolutely incredible.  I’m always so proud during discussions when we explain to the students that no auditions, no French certificates, acting experiences or musical prowess are needed for would-be Tintamarriens.

This was the first year I felt like I really succeeded in roles outside my comfort zone. I’ll take the thousands of lessons I’ve learned from the experience, and from those I shared it with, as far as I can.

We just watched the tape of this afternoon’s show.  A lot of the little details of physicality read to the audience much more than I thought.  I also realized how Alex can watch the show so often.

There are those times when an audience’s reactions really fuel something, and indicate something that is obviously bigger than a common courtesy.  Every now and again their reactions and questions show that we’ve reached them somehow.

An actor who played a ‘zen’ character who spoke only in haikus :  “I found it cool how, depending on the audience, my character could change from more spiritual to more didactic, from more focussed to more scattered, from more wise to more amateur even.”

Tintamarre is a species of its own.  Some students love Tintamarre, while others do not have the time of day (for us) – which is fine.  But often I find myself asking “Why do we all love Tintamarre?”  “Why do some others not care to any extent?”

The ones who do not seem to enjoy the shows are texting throughout the performances, or throwing paper at the head of the student in front of them, or carrying around a compact mirror or a hair straightener.  What do these all have in common?  All are trying desperately to seclude themselves in their own world, to detach themselves from any form of human community, which is everything Tintamarre stands for.  NEAT!   I believe this is what Tintamarre stands for, and also what people come to adore – the family-type community that Tintamarre creates.  For some people, this form of social bonding is not something to be treasured.

Je préfère les spectacles sans éclairage théâtral. Being able to see the spectators allows us to feed off non-verbal reactions.  It also reminds us that theatre is not all about laughter.

Why do people react so strongly to la décapitation de la poupée? I would say it’s because it symbolizes the death of traditional gender roles in society.

I can feel the difference between being on stage and giving presentations in classes.  It’s so much easier to be a character in front of hundreds of people than it is to be myself in front of six. (…)  So I guess playing a character might be a way of creating a safe space.

The rest of the cast have amazed me for their commitment and bravery.

Un comédien:  Les costumes font toute la différence.

Aujourd’hui était vraiment magique.  Entering into conversations with audiences has allowed me to understand why I love performing, theatre, and the French language.  We can’t always ask ouselves the most important questions, but if prompted sometimes we can find the answers to them, and that is what I find so magical.

I heard a big hush after Jules’ line ‘Would you just listen to me for once?’

An actor :  It’s so great to be part of something you feel is making a difference.

On a fait notre première italienne en 33 minutes!

We take care of each other on and off stage.

I’ll never get over the way people relate through theatre.

The one lesson that could not be repeated enough is never to under-estimate your audience.

Des spectateurs:

I really liked this play. It was funny and interesting.  It was easy to understand but at the same time I learned new sayings.  I enjoyed at the end when we all got a chance to ask questions and that they all said something in different languages.

I didn’t understand a few words but then because of the good acting I understood.

I think this play was based on a true story.  But that’s just me. Three cheers!

J’aime qu’ils parlent français et anglais.  C’est plus facile à comprendre et ça ajoute à la partie comique.

I found it was harder to hang on to the French at the beginning than at the end. I enjoyed it.

I liked that they played on the gym floor, not on the stage.

C’est la seule occasion de voir le théâtre français.

This was so worthwhile because we don’t have beaucoup de français at our school.

I thought the message was not to push your kids too hard.  Not to push your kids too hard.  Repetition intended.

This play could only have been improved if I were in it.

Un spectateur :  Avec Tintamarre on apprend en riant et en s’amusant.

It takes a lot of concentration but it’s still enjoyable, sort of like an opera.

The play gave audiences permisison to laugh.  Vive Tintamarre!

On Tour:

Final entry in a tour journal :  Vous avez à jamais une place gravée dans mon coeur.  God bless you all!

Tour journal entry :  I wanted to make sure I got a single thought into this journal in the exact words in which it occurred to me as I was folding a hospital corner into my beautiful blue borrowed bed-spread (with a little alliteration to amuse Alex): This has been a turning point in my life.

La journée fut chaude et humide, mais les écoles que nous avons visitées nous ont réservé un accueil remarquable.

Tour journal entry : Being the kind of person who can make any horoscope fit my life at any given moment,  I’ve had quite a lot of practice at making events seem relevant.  But I have to say that what happened today made far too much sense to be a mere coincidence.

Some girls mid-way up the gym had got their friends near the front to ask us if we’d sing ‘Lean on Me’ again, as we had sung it during the warm-up.  So there we were, in great five-part harmony, hopping around the gym with the kids, many of whom were dancing and singing with us.  Quelle célébration!

A guy named Tanner – he remembered us from last year! – even joined our warm-up.

Touring is an amazing performance ‘training’ as voices, roles, blocking, discussion techniques, all need to be flexible and constantly evolving to adapt to different spaces, size of audiences,  and, most important, audiences themselves.

I loved how they were singing when we came into the auditorium.

The school we played in this morning created a drama unit to be part of the French curriculum – because of Tintamarre.

The grade six students, who were there a long time before the show began, remembered so much from last year’s play.

Today I really enjoyed channeling spectator energy.

One girl made the comment Bravo! during the discussion, which was really nice.

A message to future touring casts: I hope that, simply, you find a place, a bond and a heart in this year’s cast.  Students across the Maritimes will know you, housemates will respect you, and may you know the love that this year’s cast has shown me and each other.

I hope that, like me, you open your heart and grow as an individual over the tour, despite (or because of) early mornings, stressful set-ups and quick change-around times.

May the memories of this tour never leave you, and may you always smile when you think about them, as I always will.

I may or may not know you, but no matter who you are, I love and respect you for doing this tour.

May the hearts and minds of thousands of smiling young people, your 10 or so housemates, and Alex be with you.  My heart and my happiness are interspersed evenly among all of you, and I hope that yours will be too.

With the utmost respect and love, et une grosse merde! – Jason

Il n’y avait pas assez de temps pour toutes les questions.

Here we are, en route to my old high school. I remember being on the other side, sitting in the drama room, in the front row, watching these strange and curious Mount Allisonians singing “Yellow Submarine” and warming up with games.  From that moment I felt automatically connected to the troupe.  I knew the words to “Yellow Submarine”, and even sang along!!

I wonder what warm-ups we’ll do today, and how the audience will react.  I’m particularly excited for my younger brother who will be in the audience today, to experience a Tintamarre show.  He has been studying French quite intensively for the last couple of years,  but has not yet had the chance to LIVE the language – or be amongst those who do so.  Vive le français!  Vive le théâtre!  Vive Tintamarre!

A few of us were discussing with Alex why this particular show has been such a hit with high-school audiences even though its characteristics should appeal to younger audiences.  I think we slightly change our attitudes with older crowds, and Alex said we deliver some of the lines, and make some of the gestures, tongue-in-cheek.

A spectator said today: “It was like a behind-the-scenes DVD.”

Another said : “Thanks for keeping us awake, guys!”  That was awesome!

I want to teach in a school like this one.  The students were excited and responsive.  They looked like a difficult audience, but they received us warmly.  (…) They follwed the rhythm perfectly, getting rowdy when we did and going quiet when the suspense peaked.  The questions were varied.  It turned into a lengthly and informative discussion.

The drawings of our characters we received yesterday really got me thinking. (…) It means they thought about the play when they studied it beforehand. (…)   One girl was so shy she got her friend to deliver the picture.

I could have hugged our two audiences yesterday.  After all that went wrong beforehand (a sudden change of venue, an injury and a lost vehicle), their energy exchange and incredible attention were fantastic gifts.  I saw the cast change on stage because of them.

Every time we meet un ancien Tintamarrien they are so kind to us, and there is a definite connection.

Today I watched the Tintamarre grads walk down the street in their gowns to Convocation Hall.  This tour has brought me that much closer to being the person I want to be when it’s me walking down to Con Hall.  I have a new confidence in the presence of spectators and peers that can only come from playing the roles of a baby in front of hindreds of young people.  I joined Tintamarre because I felt aimless at university and I needed a purpose.  I found it here among these people and the work we have been doing, spreading the spirit of theatre through messages about acceptance, growth, and the ability to overcome challenges.  This experience has shown me that risks are worth taking and the rewards can be priceless.

They remembered us from last year!

How many stayed afterward to chew the fat with the actors?  15?  Granted, some probably wanted an excuse to miss a few more minutes of class, but if one wants to miss class one does not have to talk to a bilingual touring theatre troupe.

‘Grade 8 audiences are too cool for plays’ – this theory was disproved today.

High fives, autographs (on an arm, even), and shouts of ‘Yeah! Awesome!’  The kids were great and interested from the time we started warming up.  Applause during the show!  And a standing ovation!  Our energy followed us to the food court in the mall where we spontaneously jammed at our table.

Although I was a bit flustered with the space, the kids made it worthwhile.

ROBBIE, a grade-five spectator, to Alex :  Who did the magic?  Was it you or the actors?
ALEX :  We all did the magic.


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