Arts

Students break in the LabO with the new performance space’s first performance. Photo: Courtesy of Marianne Duval.

By-Product.D-Rivé premiers at LabO

What is Ottawa? From Oct. 3-6, University of Ottawa students will try to answer that question on stage at the newly opened LabO.

In this bilingual performance of By-Product.D-Rivé—a play about bureaucrats and the plights of our generation—student actors incorporate new technologies, and old-school choreography to impress audiences.

“There is no story-line, it’s more theme based—and the theme (is) Ottawa. (We tackle) what’s good about Ottawa, what’s not, (and) what’s sexy about Ottawa. So it’s really (just) all these different pieces,” explained André Perrier, a part-time theatre professor at the U of O, and director of the play.

“What’s great about (this style) is that it’s very freeing. I don’t think that you (will) get bored with anything, but if you do (then) it’s over in three minutes.”

Since the play is based around a central theme, there is no singular sentiment that the actors convey—some parts are funny, some are ironic, and other parts are meant to be crushingly sad.

Similarly, the script of the play itself, is a mash-up of works from 16 authors from around Ottawa, which featured some works of the students taking part.

“This summer, André … sent us an email asking (us if there was) anyone (who) could write a song about a depanneur … so I was with my best friend, and … the next day, we sent André the whole thing, it was already taped, and everything,” said Maxim Racicot, a third-year theatre student, and cast member.

Racicot’s song, which he sung in French, highlights one of the most unique aspects of the play, and also one of its biggest challenges—its bilingualism.

The play, features a small cast that is split evenly between Francophone and Anglophone actors, who use their native tongue to depict the National Capital Region’s bilingual nature. For unilingual members of the audience, the production offers a screen that translates the majority of what the actors are saying.

“Speaking as one of the most monolingual (people) in the show … honestly, it wasn’t ever much of a problem (for me),” said third-year theatre student, and cast member, Noah Marcus. “Miraculously, through having worked on this show for so long … I feel like I just connected mentally enough with everyone, that I can kind of follow along the idea of what’s being said (despite it being in French).”

Indeed, Marcus attributed much of his success at understanding stage directions in the bilingual environment to Perrier, who would switch between languages at will depending on which group of students he was speaking to. “When talking to the whole cast, English prevailed because everyone everybody understands English, but not everyone understands French,” Perrier explained.

While actors were not required  to be fluent in both official languages, they were required to be students at the U of O. “I don’t think it’s very well-known, but the department opens up (play auditions) to all university students. So, they can come to audition to all the main stage shows,” said Perrier.

According to Emily Séguin, a third-year theatre student, and cast member, the students who were chosen to take part in producing this play were given an utterly unique experience. “I would say that (the play) is a beautifully constructed, chaotic, wonderful mess … which is just like Ottawa, actually.”

“We never talk about Ottawa,” said Perrier. “You have shows … about New York, Paris, (and) Rome, but why not Ottawa? (It’s a play about) your story, your place, your city.”

Catch By-Product.D-Rivé this week at the new LabO from Oct. 3-6. Tickets are five dollars for students, and can be purchased online or at the door.