“One step further and the ensemble would be singing”
This fall Soulpepper presents the world premiere of Linda Gaboriau’s new English translation of Michel Tremblay’s Yours Forever, Marie-Lou. This is Soulpepper’s first time staging a piece by the artist many consider Canada’s greatest playwright. Founding Member and Governor General’s Award recipient Diana LeBlanc directs this emotional and unflinching story of a Quebecois family. Along with Mr. Tremblay, making their Soulpepper debuts in this production is an ensemble of Francophone actors, including Suzanne Roberts Smith.
Smith will be tackling the role of Carmen who attempts to overcome a tragic circumstance involving her parents (Christian Laurin as Leopold and Patricia Marceau as Marie-Louise) and her younger sister, Manon (played by Genevieve Dufour), in order to move on with her life.
Smith describes joining a Soulpepper production as a wonderful opportunity. “It’s a company I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time and to be part of it in this way, with this piece, with this ensemble, and this translation, it’s like layers of dreams coming true.”
Along with this being Smith’s first time performing at Soulpepper she is also working with LeBlanc for the first time. She says about Leblanc: “Here she is having previously played both the roles of Manon and Marie-Louise in both languages and having directed other versions. And she has this relationship with the playwright’s work. The play lives in her in a unique way, and I can’t imagine anyone else on the planet better suited to directing it.”
Smith knows that taking on a new translation means tackling the complexities of communicating the themes and messages of the original script. “He [Tremblay] gave Linda Gaboriau a key insight into the translation and also for us as the actors. He said; ‘One step further and the ensemble would be singing.’ It’s a series of duets between the sisters and the parents.”
Along with Yours Forever, Tremblay’s productions perfectly illustrate Quebecois identity and the social struggles which are faced against the rest of Canada. The importance of bringing this production to the Soulpepper stage is to recognize Canadian identity through the Francophone culture. Smith explains there is an importance in Soulpepper showcasing this production with a Francophone ensemble, centered on this type of Quebecois family, to English speaking Toronto audiences. “He is this figure in Quebec to transform and to bring so much pride to this culture. He’s using a microcosm of the marginalized and disenfranchised Quebecois family to tell the story of Quebec’s relationship with the rest of the Canadian family.”
When asked what she hopes audiences will take away from this production, Smith says, “I hope audiences can see themselves, their own struggle represented. I hope they can identify with the characters and can feel a catharsis from this manifestation. I hope audiences can feel a sense of liberation and a sense of hope.”
Yours Forever, Marie-Lou is on stage from September 14 to October 17. For tickets, visit www.soulpepper.ca.
Suzanne Roberts Smith, photo: supplied by artist. Patricia Marceau & Suzanne Roberts Smith, photo: Nathan Kelly. Diana Leblanc & Suzanne Roberts Smith, photo: Nathan Kelly. Suzanne Roberts Smith & Genevieve Dufour, photo: Nathan Kelly.