A Théâtre français de Toronto Original New Play

Les Zinspiré.e.s : Onze calme et on continue

Duration

75 minutes

Cast

Jenny Brizard, Meilie Ng, Merlin Simard, Aimée Tremblay Woodman, Xavier Yuvens

Creative Team

  • Text by Sephora N’Kosi, Philippe Paré, Alexandra Pokas, Shannon Villeneuve, Leyao Xiao
  • Writing coaches Lara Arabian, Djennie Laguerre, François Macdonald, Merlin Simard
  • Director Constant Bernard
  • Lighting and set design Melanie McNeill
  • Head of Wardrobe Manon Degagne
  • Lighting and set design Sébastian Marziali
  • Sound and Music Design Al Thomas-Hall
  • Original Compositions Brian St-Pierre
  • Stage Manager and Assistant Director Jeff Soucy
  • Competition coordination Pierre Simpson
  • Surtitles translation Nina Okens
  • Surtitles operations Manon Bourgeois
  • Production Manager Mathieu Taillardas
Other Thanks

Geneviève Langlois, Mickaël Girouard, Emma-Lee Bernais, Ziad Ek, Gloria Mampuya, Bénédicte Mbaididje, Vincent Leblanc-Beaudoin, Eudes Laroche-Francoeur and Cholé Petit.

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Sponsors

Synopsis

SYNDROME DE L’IMPOSTEUR

by Shannon Villeneuve (É.s Père-René-de-Galinée, Cambridge) coached by Lara Arabian

In a dystopian future, it is illegal to be multiracial. Shan finds herself forced to choose between her two races.

LES PRINCESSES ET L’ÉPÉE

by Alexandra Pokas (Don Mills Collegiate Institute, Toronto) coached by Djennie Laguerre

Ready to fight for her starving kingdom, Ophelia must face a mountain, a dragon and another princess just as ‘sassy’ as she is to save her prince.

ZARATHOUSTRA

by Philippe Paré (É.s.c. Renaissance, Aurora), coached by François Macdonald

Freely inspired by Nietzsche’s character, this great sage will have to come down from the top of his mountain and face up to the ridiculous idiocies that plague humanity in 2023.

LA FILLE N’EST PAS MORTE

by Leyao Xiao (Havergal College, Toronto) coached by François Macdonald

Juliete is struggling to come to terms with the death of her best friend Stella. So, she decides to use black magic to wake her from her eternal sleep, but soon realizes that the zombie version of her friend is not what she had imagined.

JE SUIS

by Sephora N'Kosi (É.s.c. Saint-Frère-André, Toronto) coached by Merlin Simard

A slam poem. An ode to Generation Z that questions and reclaims the identity of today’s teenagers.

*WARNING : This last poem includes the use of the “N-word” in its French version.

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A Word from the Director

Constant Bernard

Who am I?

Who are you?

Really think about it. Is your first instinct to talk about your age, your physical features, or your gender? Is it to talk about your race, your nationality or your philosophy? Is it to talk about your sexual orientation, your personality, your passions, your dreams, your sorrows? Your family, your friends, your job, your school?

If everything stopped… If we no longer had access to our phones, the internet, the media, our social networks, our social concepts… If the world stopped around us and there were only people and their stories to tell… Who would we be? How would our identities be forged?

Les Zinspiré.e.s: Onze calme et on continue is a quest for the identity of today’s youth. We defy prejudice and the expectations of others to claim our reality and our reasons for being. Finding the “I Am” to our “Who Am I”. These questions seem even more urgent in today’s polarized world.

I can’t wait to bring you this show.
I’m privileged to be able to do theatre.
I’m full, delighted, inspired, grateful and proud of this team!
Now it’s up to you to tell us who you are!

Enjoy the show,

CONSTANT BERNARD

A Word from the Artistic Director

Karine Ricard

So here we are at last, the time of year when we can’t wait to bring you the entries for the Les Zinspiré.e.s competition. Every year, the number of submissions increases, teachers become more involved in the project, and we’re seeing more and more participation from schools and the public at Théâtre français de Toronto (TfT).

We are honoured to have access to stories created by and for young people. Listening to their voices, their experiences, their passions, their challenges, their disagreements, their aspirations, and offering them a space to share them on stage, in a theatrical form, is the very essence of our artistic approach and our values.

Onze calmes et on continue marks Constant Bernard’s second production at TfT. I’m delighted to invite you to explore his world and that of his creative team.

I hope you enjoy the show!

KARINE RICARD

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Cast

Jenny Brizard

Jenny Brizard

Originally from Montreal, Jenny began her artistic career as a dancer and has worked for companies such as Cirque du Soleil, Ghislaine Dote danse, and many others. In 2017, she took her first steps on stage. Her performance in the title role of Angélique, a co-production of Black Theatre Workshop and Table d’hôte, followed by that of Mia, in Pipeline, earned her a Best Actress nomination at the META Awards. Alongside this career, Jenny made her debut in film and television. She has appeared in Littlemouth, A Million Little Things, Paris/Paris, Locke & Key, Diggstown, Sinking Ship, The Handmaid’s Tale, Spinning Gold, Titans, Shadowhunters, The Bold Type, On The Basis of Sex, The Boys, Good Witch, Mad Mom, to name but a few.

Jenny has taken part in masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and completed an intensive acting training program at Method Acting in London, UK.

Jenny Brizard is currently working on several projects that she can’t wait to share with the public.

Meilie Ng

Meilie Ng

Meilie Ng is an actress who graduated from the National Theatre School of Canada. She has appeared in television series in both English and French, including Rabbit Hole (Prime), Sex/Life (Netflix), Indéfendable (TVA), Makinium (Radio-Canada), Entrelacés (TéléQuébec), The Revenge of the Black Bestfriend (CBC Gem), Umbrella Academy (Netflix), Covert Affaires (Prime), OddSquad Mobile Unit (PBS Kids), Zik (TFO) and Les Rescapés (Radio-Canada). She has also been a host for the live shows Flip TFO and La Mission Flip. She lent her voice to Kim Thuy’s novel RU, winner of the 2015 CBC Canada Reads contest, to the animated short Requiem Pour Une Romance, and to the character of Mireille in the audio play Lucky Lady by J.M. Dalpé. She has been part of three theatre casts nominated for Best Ensemble for Young Audiences at Dora: Les Zinspirés 6 (TfT), In This World (Roseneath Theatre) and Les Zinspirés (TfT). She had the pleasure of being part of the discussion of the French fact in Canada with the national tour of the play entitled 1.2.3. (National Arts Centre) and of the Asian fact in Canada with the play Bonnes Bonnes (Théâtres aux Écuries). Other theatre credits include Les Fourberies de Scapin (TfT), Nisei Blue (Alberta Theatre Projects), The Winter’s Tale (Canadian Stage), Pinocchio (Geordie Productions) and Richard III (Metachroma Theatre). Meilie is honoured to be part of Zinspirés for a third time!

Merlin Simard

Merlin Simard

Merlin Simard is a performer, writer, playwright and screenwriter originally from Tiohtiá:ke (Montreal), now based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). As a performer, Merlin has worked with Factory Theatre, Stratford, Crow’s, Outside The March, Buddies In Bad Times, Talk is Free, Toronto Dance Theatre and many other theatre companies across Canada. They have also appeared in Grand Army (Netlix) and This Life (CBC), and in the short film Poils Anyways (Fitonia Inc.), which they also wrote.

Merlin is also developing several projects in theatre, television, and VR, in both English and French. Her practice focuses on themes of access, gender euphoria, technology, and multilingual performance. @hussy4hussy | merlinsimard.com Photo credit: Mark Binks.

Aimée Tremblay Woodman

Aimée Tremblay Woodman

Aimée is a graduate of Sheridan College’s Honours Bachelor of Musical Theatre Program. She is thrilled to be participating in her first French-language play. Originally from Toronto, Aimée is a neurodivergent artist who is grateful for the opportunity to rediscover her Franco-Ontarian identity in this production. Alongside her passion for theatre, Aimée teaches voice and piano at Bravo Academy and is always on the lookout for new embroidery techniques. Her most recent credits include Eleven in Netflix’s Stranger Things: The Experience and Tinker in Tinker’s Toy Factory at Canada’s Wonderland.

Xavier Yuvens

Xavier Yuvens

Xavier is proud to contribute to the mission of Les Zinspirés and to bring to life the explosive texts of the 2023 cuvée. The project is close to his heart, not least because his first professional theatre contract was for the 3rd edition of the show, in 2014, with Les Zinspirés 3D. Since then, Xavier has cultivated a wonderful relationship with Théâtre français de Toronto, thanks to which he has had the chance to take part in various creative laboratories, meet a host of z-inspired and z-inspiring artists, take part in the cross-Canada tour of the event-show Un.deux.trois, and appear in the web series Les Liaisons dangereuses : Correspondances inédites.

His on-screen credits include Padre (Unis TV), Québexit (Amazon Prime), Eaux Turbulentes (Tou.tv), Rosie (Téléfilm), Zik (TFO), Meilleur Avant (Télé-Québec), and Paris, Ontario (CBC Gem).

For those of you who heard him butcher a Pierre Lapointe song on stage at the Franc’Open Mic last winter, don’t worry: he won’t be singing tonight.

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Creative Team

Sephora N’kosi

Sephora N’kosi (Je suis)

Text

Hi, my name is Sephora N’Kosi and I’m the author of Je suis. I was born in Toronto but I’m originally from Congo. I love writing and art in general. I explore several mediums but I’m most interested in theatre. I’m currently studying at the National Theatre School in Creation and Production. As for writing, I love poetry, so my dramatic style is strongly influenced by poetic SLAM. I hope you enjoy the show.

Philippe Paré

Philippe Paré (Zarathoustra)

Text

I was born in Indiana in 2006 and moved to Canada for the first time in 2012. That was also the year I began, not without difficulty, to learn the French language. Until last year, I wasn’t interested in playwriting at all. That was until I saw Les Zinspiré.e.s last year on a school trip with my French class, and I was so inspired by the quality of some of the acts that I wanted to do one myself. So, at the beginning of the year, I decided to do two different pieces, one inspired by Nietzsche’s magnum opus and modern internet humour and the other, called Les Caricatures, a metafictional piece about the absurd nature of most entertainment that touches on the ideas of existentialism that I was very proud of but unfortunately didn’t get chosen. Anyway, I didn’t really think I was going to win the competition even after submiting it, so it was with great surprise that I found out in June that one of my entries had been chosen and that I would be moving on to the writing stage over two weekends in the summer (the best weekends of the summer). Special thanks go to my Year 11 French teacher and my Year 8 English teacher, as well as everyone else involved in this special trip.

Alexandra Pokas

Alexandra Pokas (Les princesses et l’épée)

Text

My name is Alexandra Pokas and I’m currently in my first year at OCAD, where I’m studying drawing and painting. This isn’t my first experience of theatre, but it’s the first time I’ve written a play (in French, no less!!). I love all aspects of the arts and I really enjoyed being involved in the creation of this production. It was a new experience, very different from being in a play or helping out on stage.

Shannon Villeneuve

Shannon Villeneuve (Impostor Syndrome)

Text

Shannon wrote this play as part of a grade 12 class project, and it wouldn’t have been possible without her teacher Ms. Malete, who submitted the piece to Les Zinspiré.e.s (thanks Ms. Malete!) She is currently a student at the University of Toronto, where she is studying life sciences and hopes to double major in human biology and toxicology. Before this play, Shannon had no theatre experience, so it’s a whole new world she’s discovered and been able to navigate thanks to the incredible help of her coach Lara Arabian and the Théâtre français de Toronto community. This play is personal for Shannon and she hopes that her words will touch people.

Leyao Xiao

Leyao Xiao (The Girl Is Not Dead)

Text

Leyao has a long history with the arts. She enjoys writing short stories, screenplays and stage productions. She has written many plays for her drama course, but this is the first time she has written one in French. As well as creative writing, Leyao has also played cello and double bass in an orchestra, sung in a choir, and acted in school plays. She hopes to publish more of her stories in the future, whatever the medium.

Lara Arabian

Lara Arabian

Writing Coach

Lara is a trilingual performer based in Toronto, having spent time in Beirut (Lebanon), upstate New York and Paris (France). A Dora Award-nominated actress, she has worked with companies across Canada, including: Citadel Theatre, Modern Times, Aluna Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Canadian Stage, Theatre Passe Muraille, TfT, Studio 180, Cahoots, Pandemic Theatre, Nightswimming. Her recent television and film credits include: The Handmaid’s Tale, Kim’s Convenience, Rabbit Hole, Paris, Paris, Ghostwriter, Murdoch Mysteries, Taken, Dark Matter. She completed her acting training at the Banff/Citadel Professional Theatre Program. As a writer, she was a member of the Banff Playwrights Unit and Nightwood Theatre’s Write from the Hip program. She was twice nominated for the Dora Award for Outstanding New Play (Youth Division) as a member of the writing team for Les Zinspiré.e.s 8 and 10 (Théâtre français de Toronto). Her latest play, Convictions, had its world premiere at the Festival Les Zébrures in France this fall, before launching the season at Théâtre français de Toronto. Lara was recently named the inaugural winner of the Joël Beddows Award for playwriting.

Lara is also a passionate arts educator and is on the faculty of George Brown College and Sheridan College. At Sheridan, she chairs the Expanding the Lens series, dedicated to historically marginalized voices. Upcoming: a revival of Lara’s one-woman show, Siranoush, at the 2024 Next Stage Theatre Festival in Toronto.

Djennie Laguerre

Djennie Laguerre

Writing Coach

Djennie Laguerre is an actress, writer and storyteller; she is a graduate of the Stella Adler Conservatory of Acting in New York and has a BA in Theatre and Literature from the University of Otawa. Her theatre credits include Le Malade imaginaire, Les Zinspirés and Les Zinspirés 3D (Théâtre français de Toronto), and Rendez-vous Home/Lakay (Black Theatre Workshop), which she also wrote. She is also the writer and performer of Manman la mer (Théâtre Catapulte), which premiered in Ottawa in February 2020 before being presented at the MASA festival in Côte-d’Ivoire (March 2020). The show won two Prix Rideau Awards 2021 - ‘Production of the Year’ and ‘Performance of the Year’. Djennie received the Spotlight Award at the SummerWorks Festival in 2008 for Rendez-vous with Home/Lakay. She was nominated for a Dora Award for Les Zinspirés 3D, in the categories of Outstanding Performance - Individual and Outstanding Performance - Ensemble Performance, and a Best Actress nomination at the METAs Awards 2018 and Dora Awards 2020 for Rendez-vous with Home/Lakay. Arts educator with CAO, and Theatre Direct. ** Theatre Project ⁄ Film and Television. Taking Care of Maman with Roseneath Theatre. Her charming Hélène in the TV series Paris, Paris season 1 & 2 (Unis, Radio-Canada 2022) and her moving Madame St-Aimé in the TV series Après Le Déluge⁄ Still I Rise (Noovo.ca and CRAVE).

François Macdonald

François Macdonald

Writing Coach

François is a four-time Dora Mavor Moore-nominated actor and writer. As an actor, he has appeared onscreen in The Expanse (Amazon Prime), Letterkenny (Crave), Mayday (Discovery), Canada: The Story of Us (CBC) as well as in several short films and commercials. He has also appeared onstage in numerous productions, including Le Menteur (Théâtre français de Toronto), Les Zinspirés Puissance 4 (TfT), The Wager (Theatre Gargantua), East of Berlin (Essential Collective Theatre) and Our Town (Buddies in Bad Times/Rusticle). As a writer, François presented his first play Aquarius, a solo show in which he also performs, as part of Queer Pride in Toronto and the Queer Acts Festival in Halifax. Involved with LES Zinspirés since 2015, François is delighted to have worked with Philippe Paré and Leyao Xiao this year. He thanks them sincerely for their generosity, creativity, sense of humour and patience during the writing process!

Merlin Simard

Merlin Simard

Writing Coach

Merlin Simard is a performer, writer, playwright and screenwriter originally from Tiohtiá:ke (Montreal), now based in Tkarón:to (Toronto). As a performer, Merlin has worked with Factory Theatre, Stratford, Crow’s, Outside The March, Buddies In Bad Times, Talk is Free, Toronto Dance Theatre and many other theatre companies across Canada. They have also appeared in Grand Army (Netlix) and This Life (CBC), and in the short film Poils Anyways (Fitonia Inc.), which they also wrote.

Merlin is also developing several projects in theatre, television, and VR, in both English and French. Her practice focuses on themes of access, gender euphoria, technology, and multilingual performance. @hussy4hussy | merlinsimard.com Photo credit: Mark Binks.

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Constant Bernard

Constant Bernard

Director

Constant Bernard is an actor, director and singer. He is thrilled to be back at the helm of Les Zinspiré.e.s following last year’s success which garnered the production five Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations including Outstanding Direction. A graduate from the University of Ottawa’s Theatre Department as well as Sheridan’s Music Theatre program, he has performed in many musicals and plays across Canada. Highlights from his past stage performances include: Le Passé Antérieur, Les Zinspiré.e.s (Théâtre français de Toronto), Vaches: The Musical (Créations In Vivo), The Rocky Horror Show (Citadel Theatre), Le Passé Antérieur (Theatre de l’île), Silence en coulisses (Théâtre du Trillium), Frozen, Twice Charmed: A Cinderella Story and Tangled: The Musical (Disney).

Constant can also be seen on screen - both big and small. Most notably, he starred in Gail Maurice’s ROSIE, a film that was part of TIFF’s TOP 10 for 2022 and for which Constant was nominated for an ACTRA award for Best Performance by an Actor and won Best Supporting Actor at the REELOut Film Festival. Other TV credits include: Overlord and the Underwoods (CBC Gem/Nickelodeon), Makinium (Radio-Canada), Murdoch Mysteries (CBC).

Melanie McNeill

Melanie McNeill

Costume and Prop Design

Melanie is thrilled to be back with TfT for her 11th design and 16th show with the company! She is a Toronto based set and costume designer who has also worked extensively with Eldritch Theatre, and Videocabaret, amongst many others. She splits her time with theatre as a Production Designer, Costume Designer and Art Director in the tv world. Melanie has received 3 Dora Awards, 8 other Dora nominations, and a Prix Rideaux Award. Melanie is a graduate of TMU (formerly Ryerson Theatre School), and a member of Associated Designers of Canada.

Sébastian Marziali

Sébastian Marziali

Lighting and Set Design

Sebastian Marziali is a Uruguayan-Canadian performer, designer, and creator based in Toronto. Sebastian was the lighting designer on the 2018 & 2019 Toronto International Burlesque Festival and 2019 Vanguardia Dance Festival. They performed in, designed, and choreographed for the sold-out T.O. Fringe hits Lysistrata, Carmilla, and Mayhem at Miskatonik. They appeared in the much lauded A Streetcar Named Desire at Soulpepper returning summer 2024. Most recently they designed the set and lights for TfT’s Convictions in Toronto and Limoges.

Al Thomas-Hall

Al Thomas-Hall

Sound and Musical Design

Al/Alison is a multidisciplinary artist, writer and designer based in Toronto. In 2022, he had the opportunity to design the sound for two original musicals, Killing Time: a Game Show Musical and Perfect Bowl of Pho, and was stage manager for the Just For Laughs comedy festival. He is now interested in facilitating inclusive and creative spaces, including Buddies, MNJCC, and of course TfT.

Jeff Soucy

Jeff Soucy

Stage Manager and Assistant Director

A Toronto-based Acadian from Atholville, NB, Jeff is a bilingual stage manager and assistant director. From an early age, he treaded the boards himself as an actor, singer, and dancer, giving him an intrinsic understanding of the theatrical milieu. Since moving into the spotlight, he has also accumulated experience as a dramaturg, casting assistant and scriptwriter, to name but a few. He is the recipient of the Governor General’s Academic Medal and the Triple Threat Award from the faculty of Randolph College, where he studied performing arts. His most recent directing credits include: Très loin (BoucharDanse), Sharing the Stage (National Ballet), The Effect (Coal Mine Theatre), Mamma Mia! (Tweed & Co), Le Club des éphémères (TfT and Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario), Sweeney Todd, She Visits, Pal Joey (TIFT), La Bulle (Corpus) and Heroine (TNB). @jeff_yourstagemanager

Pierre Simpson

Pierre Simpson

Competition Coordination

Pierre is very proud of all these talented young writers and sincerely thanks the teachers, families and creative teams who support them. Originally from Welland, Pierre is a graduate of the University of Ottawa. At TfT - actor: La Cantatrice chauve, Dom Juan, Le Dîner de cons and Les Médecins by Molière, (Prix Dora finalist, Prix Rideau winner). Director: Zinspiré.e.s 1, 2.0, 3D, La plus grosse poutine du monde. Television: Hannibal, Murdoch Mysteries, Reign, Transplant, Three Pines, Motel Monstre, Le Rêve de Champlain, Mehdi & Val, Léa Olivier, Makinium, Ainsi va Manu, Love & Lajoie, Zik, Improtéine Expose 2022 (Gémeaux finalist). Vocals: Copains Carlins, Globies, Red Ketchup. Film: mother!, Noël en boîte, Québéxit, Rosie, Une Défaillance. Upcoming films: Zoé Fusée, Paris Paris s2, Hôtel Beyrouth.

Mathieu Taillardas

Mathieu Taillardas

Production Manager

With a degree in social work and education, Mathieu’s early professional life revolved around his profession as a specialized educator, while at the same time pursuing a career as a musician. Following a retraining in the administrative world, he left France in 2020 to move to Toronto. As life is all about meeting new people and sharing experiences, he was hired at the end of 2021 as Assistant General Manager of the Théâtre français de Toronto. This was his first exposure to the world of culture and entertainment. There, he discovered the incredible richness of the French-speaking community and wanted to become a player in safeguarding, growing, and developing this beautiful family. Thanks to his commitment and motivation, he was trained by Théâtre Action to become TfT’s new production manager.

In Images

Les Zinspiré.e.s : Onze calme et on continue

Photo: Mathieu Taillardas

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