Social Buttons

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

5 Questions for Janine Thériault of La Belle et la Bête

In Lemieux Pilon 4D Art's La Belle et la Bête, the actors interact with stunning projected imagery in a retelling of the age-old Beauty and the Beast story. We chatted with Janine Thériault who plays La Belle about her role and what it's like to perform with "virtuals."

1. How would you describe your character and in what ways do you identify with her?
This version of Belle (along with the play as a whole) is a contemporary take on the more archetypal fairytale version—so, although she is still very much the "Bringer of Light, Life, and Love" in the story, there are necessarily more shadows, uncertainties, and ambiguities in her. She's a very youthful person, with all that entails—including a decidedly impetuousness streak. She's also an artist in her own right, and has built much of her existence around her work. She's definitely a glass-half-full person. I certainly identify with her determination to see beauty, light, and wonder in life, and the struggle that this insistence can sometimes be. Her desire to use her art to bring this light is definitely something we share, what I aspire to do with my own [art]...

2. In the play you interact mostly with projections. Were the projections part of rehearsals from the beginning or were they added later?

Much later! Because my first show with this production was on tour, the stage and all the equipment had been sent ahead far in advance by ship, and I only got onto the stage with the projections in tech week! Thankfully for me, our intrepid assistant director knows the minutia of the virtuals inside out, and had me as prepared for what I'd be encountering onstage as I could be. But this late introduction gave me moments of being taken away by the magic of the show in that week—something that doesn't always happen in tech!

3. This is a unique experience for an actor, could you talk about some of the challenges of this production?

I'm afraid I can't go into many of the challenges without giving up our tricks, but yes, the virtual images make for a very technically demanding show for everyone, on or off-stage. It's akin to working with a green screen, but even more precise because we have an audience in the room with us, and we interact very intimately with the virtuals. But the mother of all the actors' challenges is that there's never anything to see! That's the question we most often get, and people are always shocked to hear we on stage never see the projections. So the spell we're trying to cast for an audience, of proximity, of intimacy, and of interaction, requires a unique combination of externally-prescribed precision and big imagination.

4. Do you think it has had an impact on the way you act with real-life actors?
It's made me very thankful to have them! Actually, I'd like to think that it's made a better listener out of me. When I'm working with the virtuals the only sense I can use to interact with them is hearing. It certainly makes you more attuned to any audible nuance when it's all you have to establish a rapport with.

5. What might you do on your off day during your BAM run?
What won't I do?! It's been far too long since I've been in NY and I have an impossible wish list of things to do—but seeing old school friends, eating at my favorite French bistro in Soho, and taking the walk through Central Park to the Met are at the top of my list. And I hope very much for my last night in town to be an all-nighter!

La Belle et la Bête runs Nov 21—23 at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.