One of the great things about being in a French-speaking region like Québec is being able to attend movies, plays, and other artistic endeavors in French. The conversational French class, along with Professor Denis Brault, was able to attend a showing of Le Mumure du Coquelicot (English: The Whisper of the Poppy) by Québecois theatre/acrobatics troupe Le Sept Doigts de la Main.
Billed as “a marriage between circus and theatre”, it was a psychological drama integrated with a real spectacle! Without revealing too much of the plot, an aging and struggling actor auditions for what he’s told is “the role of his life”, and the conversation between him and the casting director gets more and more personal as he realizes that he is literally playing “the role of his life”—in a play about him. The circus-style performances were integrated within the play fairly well, and both the actors and the acrobats were immensely talented. Usually, sitting up in the balcony of a theatre isn’t the ideal choice for drama, but since much of the acrobatics were aerial, they were really good seats! After the play, I learned that the actor who was playing the casting director was using the French dialect instead of her natural Québecois dialect, which is rather difficult to do!
The “twist” ending to the plot was rather easy to guess from earlier on, as it’s a fairly common science-fiction ending, but it didn’t take away from the visual aspect of the play. In addition to the acrobatics, there were also some dynamic lighting choices, and the final scene featured poppy petals falling from the rafters to the stage, which tied in well with how the story ended. I was able to understand most of what was being said, which I’m quite proud of, but the actors were speaking rather quickly, and so I wasn’t able to get each and every word. It was a really excellent practical learning experience, and I hope future French students get a similar opportunity!
– Nora Anderson, Sociology/Anthropology and French Majors, Ohio Wesleyan University, Fall 2013