Ship of Fools
There are 3 Elizabeths in the play; young girls who entered a contest for everyone named Elizabeth.
Upstage and CharPo contributor Sarah Deshaies spoke with Actors Jeremy Segal and Natasha Trepanier about Dawson Theatre School production of The Coronation Voyage by Michel Marc Bouchard. Below is an abridged version of the interview transcribed by Estelle Rosen, CharPo Editor-in-Chief.
Asked about the story, Segal replied.
In 1953, a boat leaves from Montreal to England to attend the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. On board is an important Mafioso called The Chief fleeing Montreal. A bad business deal, in danger of being killed if he doesn’t leave, his plan is to start a new life in England with his two sons.
The curtains have been taken down on sides of stage so the audience can see backstage area.
Also on board is a diplomat who has secured 3 fake passports. The Chief needs the passports for his new life in England.
The diplomat sets up a situation where the Chief either has to sacrifice his son to get the passports or to sacrifice himself and his family could not get passports.
Asked if the play taking place on a boat becomes claustrophobic, Segal responded.
One of the concepts of Director Jude Benny was to create intimacy with the audience. The curtains have been taken down on sides of stage so the audience can see backstage area. This is interesting because the actors have to stay in character all the time. Also backstage life happens with the characters giving the audience an opportunity to have different experiences depending where seated.
Trepanier was asked if it’s tough to always be in character. She replied.
Actually it’s fun. It becomes a different type of challenge. Onstage you have to remember your lines and character created. When you exit, you take a breath before going back on stage. In this case, your breath is still in character so you get to live the life of the character.
Trepanier was asked about offstage performances.
There are 3 Elizabeths in the play; young girls who entered a contest for everyone named Elizabeth. Twenty-one girls got a chance to go on the boat. Three won another part in the contest. We were allowed to go into first class.
What’s interesting about this play specifically is it’s very much rooted in Montreal.
There are extra performances by 3 Elizabeths one-half hour before the show starts. There’s also dance and song during intermission. The audience feels invited into the world of the play.
It’s very cool especially as students get to do something unconventional.
Deshaies asked whether the approach has been different considering this is a final project?
What’s interesting about this play specifically is it’s very much rooted in Montreal. We did a lot of research. There’s a lot of history in the play that feeds our performance.
Our director knew someone whose mother had a scrapbook from 1953 from the Coronation. She found people who were on the ship.
The parallel issues of war then and now makes it relatable.