Theatre St. Thomas opened its second production of the season this week with the Maritime premiere of Trudeau and the FLQ.
As the next wave of Trudeaumania settles in, Theatre St. Thomas are transporting audiences back to the 1960s to follow Pierre Elliott Trudeau through one of the most interesting and turbulent times in recent Canadian history, with a play unlike anything else happening in Fredericton this theatre season.
Trudeau and the FLQ is a cabaret/burlesque take on the ideological differences that led to the October Crisis of 1970, told through 93 scenes with nearly 70 characters.
“It’s like watching an action-packed comic book come to life,” said Robin Whittaker, the show’s director and artistic producer of TST. “This style developed by VideoCabaret, coincidentally called the ‘black box style’, requires a particular sort of precision from the actors and stage crew. Of course, actors are always asked to ‘find their mark’, but in this style they must find it exactly and often not move, or move with particularly efficient precision to their next mark. Another challenge is that there are about 600 cues in this show, perhaps 200 more than some musicals.”
Toronto-based theatre company VideoCabaret built its reputation by creating innovative, prolific and at times, challenging material. This production premiered in 1996 as part of the company’s 21-play cycle, The History of the Village of the Small Huts.
“I’d contacted VideoCabaret’s co-artistic director Deanne Taylor two summers ago to ask if I could access one of their scripts to teach in my Canadian Drama course because I’d seen two of VideoCab’s productions in Toronto and was attracted to the way the historical content is presented in such an engaging ride,” said Whittaker. “When I was given carte blanche to ask for any of their 21 plays in the play cycle The History of the Village of the Small Huts, I asked for Trudeau and the FLQ because I thought students could access both the Trudeaumania energy of it and the homegrown terrorism side of it too. It is, at once, both the most politically thrilling and chilling moment in our recent history. When VideoCab suggested that we consider producing the play, I contacted them again last spring and we made it so.”
Obviously, the timing for this production couldn’t be better.
“With Liberal leader, and Pierre’s son, Justin Trudeau running for Prime Minister and then winning a majority government, and with the recent events in Paris, the themes of this play teach us much about today’s political climate,” said Whittaker. “’Round and round’, as the FLQ’s Paul says in the play. ‘Round and round’.”