Trevor Schwellnus (Nohayquiensepa) interviews:
Genevieve Trilling of I Will Always Be There To Kill You, produced by Pure Cassis
Genevieve Trilling has one foot in France and the other in Canada. This year she is producing and acting in a number of productions both here and at the Hamilton Fringe. When I first got in touch with her, all I knew was the title of her piece, I Will Always Be There To Kill You : a little creepy, maybe noir, maybe ironic, maybe touching, maybe … vampire. I was wrong, of course; it is French. A French comedy.
Genevieve translated the piece for SummerWorks, where it will receive its premiere in Canada – were she will perform it both in English and in French. Which language is funnier, deeper, more in tune with your existential core? Go see it twice and find out!
Children of Trudeau, feel your bilingualism pay off!
1. Why this title?
The title “I’ll always be there to kill you” is the closest translation to “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer”.
2. Who are you and how did you end up here?
My name is Geneviève Trilling and I am an actor here in Toronto. Originally from France, I spent a few months there after I got married in 2008. I saw the play “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer” while in Paris. Back in Canada, I contacted Sophie Tonneau and asked her if she would be interested in having it translated and mounted in Canada
3. What are you risking / putting at risk in this project?
Well, I guess a first project is always pretty risky. It’s my first time producing a play. But most of all, I would say that the risk is the fact that we are actually putting 2 shows up. Half of the performances will be in French, half in English.
The play is a two-hander, one male, one female. I play the female role in both languages but two different guys will play the male role. So the risk is mostly in the amount of work this represents. As for the content of the play, it’s a comedy, a little strange maybe, but light and entertaining and the challenge is to do the play justice, like in any production.
4. How important is bridging cultures to the work you do as an artist?
For this particular project, it has become important in a sense that the play we picked was originally written in French and is set in France. The idea was to explore the story and make it work for a North American audience but also give them the option of seeing the play in its original version.
I wouldn’t say we are heavily “bridging cultures” in this piece but it is very interesting to see the difference in delivery, rhythm and energy between the two languages. As for my work as an artist, I do find mixing cultures and exploring behaviors important but mostly I find the process fascinating and highly enjoyable.
5. Do you identify with any particular theatrical tradition?
Not really. I hope to have a career that eventually allows me to touch on all styles of performance. I am trained in Musical Theatre, dance, movement and music but I’ll try absolutely anything.
I feel that maybe Pure Cassis could start a tradition of providing plays in both French and English in the same run… so more people get to see performances in French.
6. Tell me more about Sophie Tonneau and her work.
I’ll tell you what I know but here is the thing: she will be here, in Toronto, in person during SummerWorks!
Sophie is a director, actor, playwright and songwriter. She lives in Paris but she has traveled a lot and spent quite a bit of time in England. She finds in the stage a way of continuing to travel. She has directed and acted in numerous plays. Her writing credits include: “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer” (Editions l’Harmattan), “Ne m’appelle plus Baby, Chérie, c’est fini”, “Du ciel dans l’eau”, “Troposites”. She is now writing a comedy on French society.
In Paris, the play “Je serai toujours là pour te tuer” was performed 120 times during the course of a year. Three different men played Simon, although Franck Le Hen originated the role. Sophie played the role of Helen in all performances. It was last seen at the Théâtre du Funambule in Montmartre last spring.
7. Who are the actors you are working with, and why them? What was it that convinced you to bring a French actor here, rather than cast locally?
We did cast locally but let me explain.
Christian Smith is the actor I am working with in the English production. He just graduated from York and has been absolutely amazing. He is such a strong, confident and giving actor that I could not have dreamed of a better partner. He simply auditioned for us when we put out the casting call. At the time, we were possibly looking for a bilingual actor. But it was tricky. We considered working with an actor who could speak French with an accent but because the text has a definite French/Parisian rhythm, we ideally wanted someone who naturally spoke with that accent.
Manuel, although originally from France (Belgium actually) lives here in Toronto and works as actor. He was in France for few months and was coming back to Toronto this summer. It’s just a blessing that the timing worked out so well. Manuel is incredible both as an actor and a member of this team. I can’t even start to express how lucky I feel about having him on board. C’est vraiment génial.
8. Why are the French so intense?
You are asking the wrong person: I am French and feel totally normal! Intense, what do you mean? I don’t know. Latin blood maybe. I would say the main difference is that French people are used to confrontation, for us, it’s not a big deal to argue and then hug two minutes later. Canadians tend to avoid altercations and really hesitate to raise their voices. Slightly different ways of communicating I guess. Now, the other thing is that French people strive for quality and don’t hesitate to openly criticize. That’s ingrained in the Culture, it’s part of the history of the country. Ok, sometimes it can be a bit much, I agree.
9. How long have you been working to make this show a reality? Why this script, specifically?
The project was born some time in January when I contacted Sophie Tonneau. I had seen her perform the play in a small theatre in Paris and thought it would be good idea to mount it here. Then in April, when I found out we had gotten into SummerWorks, I set things in motion, found a director, ran auditions etc… We started rehearsing early June in the rehearsal space of the TFT (Théâtre Français of Toronto). Their help to the production has been asbolutely tremendous.
I chose this script because I simply fell in love with it when I saw the show. Also, I was looking for a role I could play and the character of Helen was a perfect fit.
10. If doing theatre was suddenly labeled a terrorist act, what would you do?
I would be even more excited to do it. I love danger.
Ultimately, if I think something is good for people, I’ll keep doing it. And Theatre is. Plus, it’s so much fun, and I need to have fun in life!