[Entrevue] « Sucré sixteen (eight girls) »: the passion of the graduates

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In English, it is called without irony the sweet sixteen. Depicting this mythical age, Sweet sixteen (eight girls) runs in the network of cultural centres, supported by freshly graduated actresses. A posthumous creation, alas, for the last text by Suzie Bastien, the fifty-year-old playwright having died in the summer of 2021.

The director of the Théâtre de l’Opsis, who is looking for authors with distinctive voices for her « Cycle of female territories », likes the « particular » pen of the one who will have written about fifteen plays, even if she was, inexplicably, little put together. in Quebec. « She wrote female characters, also troubles that we don’t see elsewhere », says Luce Pelletier, recalling her most famous play, Gobi’s Desire, the award-winning story of a kidnapped teenager, presented here, in Rome and in France. “She dared to go into subjects quite trash, but in a delicate, theatrical way. His texts are very theatrical. And she always wrote [de façon] personal, never by order. She freed herself with writing, so she made no concessions to the taste of the day to be edited. »

Winner of the SACD Prize for Francophone Dramaturgy in 2019, sweet sixteen trace of “beautiful portraits” through eight monologues, poetic “but concrete”. One of the performers, Charlène Beaubien, compares them to eight colours, exposing the “roller coaster” of adolescence. “The monologues address eight different themes. We see a complete picture. And I have the impression that we really enter into the deep intimacy of the characters. It’s nice to have that teenage female voice taking over, at least for an hour and a half. »

The 21-year-old actress still feels close to her 16th birthday. “We get to know each other a lot, then. We live everything very intensely, but we want to please and to appear older than we are, which makes us contain ourselves so much. I think that’s why there are shocks. Me, I didn’t like being infantilized, being told that it was too intense. We are so full of life and thirsty to experiment, and even if we understand that we have to be careful, we want to discover it for ourselves. Even today, I am proud to have held my own on this. And I find it beautiful that we celebrate this intensity instead of always trying to contain it. »

And the excessive is not lacking in these very contrasting stories. First love, eating disorder, idealism diverted into radicalization, unbridled sexuality… The play brings to life, without watering down, a wide spectrum of states that can be experienced in adolescence. Luce Pelletier, who worked with the author during her lifetime, specifies that Suzie Bastien had set herself the challenge of varying the language, the way of telling for each of the protagonists, of composing each monologue « differently, and in the form and in the talk. It’s magical, in that regard. She has done a formal job that gives a very great emotion”. The tour having already begun, the director said she was delighted with the reception from the public, noting that “both parents of teenagers and young people are affected”.

Sorority

In addition to the soliloquies, the text includes a choral dimension through songs. And the show added three dance scenes, « which allow us to see that the girls are united, even in their misfortune or their personal loneliness ». Young choreographer Claudia Chan Tak has composed “tremendous, unifying” dances, according to Luce Pelletier.

It recruited, through auditions, graduates from different theater schools. She wanted to have graduates from the very recent 2022 cohort. “I’m going to be 60 years old. So you’re like, « Who am I to put on this show? » She also considered it important to give space to this new generation which, due to the pandemic congestion, seems to be emerging at a particularly difficult time. “I love working with that generation. Well, sometimes they have way too much energy for me. [rires] And because they are graduating, they have a passion that they will never have elsewhere. »

Beginners relish this chance to set foot in the theatrical world, says Charlène Beaubien. “It’s a great springboard, a gift for us. And it’s the fun to live it together, between graduates: we created a beautiful sorority. “They make pajamas party…”, confirms Luce Pelletier with a laugh.

For the director, working only with “talented” up-and-coming performers has proven to be both rewarding and disturbing. “It’s not easy: they sing, dance, play. They are strong, these texts, with nuances. And even for a seasoned actress, doing an eight-minute monologue is a lot. But it’s very nourishing, to have access to their energy, to their ideas. »

The Saint-Hyacinthe graduate is grateful to Ms.me Pelletier for giving them a lot of space. “We have formations from all over the place and, already, we each have our uniqueness, our own style of play. [Luce] did not try to mold us too much, and I find that it serves the text. On stage, we are also seen, the graduating performers, as much as the characters. »

Sweet sixteen (eight girls)

Text: Suzie Bastien. Director: Luce Pelletier. With Melania Balmaceda Venegas, Charlène Beaubien, Julie Boissonneault, Pénélope Ducharme, Roxane Lavoie, Doriane Lens-Pitt, Marie Reid and Laurence Trudelle. In the houses of culture, until November 12.

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