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Congrats! You’re making progress! (“Théatre St-Denis” & “Le Capitole”) (#185)
There are a number of readers who have been following my blog for a few months. I’m happy to have been able to offer some insight, and I enjoy reading some of your emails.
It takes time to get a sense of another culture when there is a linguistic barrier or physical distance. However, for those of you who are regular readers, if you were to visit Québec, if you were to watch some Montréwood television, or even listen to some of the news, you would probably already notice that the pieces are now starting to fall into place, bit by tiny bit. Much of what you encounter should now be making much more sense.
I was recently in Montréal and I walked by Théatre St-Denis. It is one of the most famous stage theatres in Québec. It features acts of all types. Some of the biggest names in Québec’s pop-culture have seen their careers launched at Théatre St-Denis, and it continues to feature some of the biggest stars.
A quick glance at the sign made me realize just how much ground has been covered in just the few short months of blogging about Québec, its pop-culture, and many other topics related to Québec and Francophone culture in Canada.
For the regular readers of this blog, the signs (below) should give you an idea just how much you have already learned about Québec’s culture in the last few months. Give yourself a pat on the back for wanting taking the initiative to learn more, and for your desire to acquire a greater cultural context of what Québec and Canada are all about.
Simply from having regularly read the blog posts, a good number of you will certainly recognize some of these names. You now likely know who they are, what they’re about, and how they fit into Québec’s overall culture. Here are four which might jump out at you:
- Stéphane Rousseau
- Véronic DiCaire
- Lise Dion
- Rachid Badouri
The last time I was in Québec City, I also snapped a photo of the performance sign hanging in front of the Le Capitole (the most famous performance theatre in Québec city, and also one of the most famous stage theatres in Québec).
Again, some of the names you’ll likely recognize are
- Ginette Reno
- Véronic DiCaire
- Mario Pelchat
This could be proof that learning about Québec, its culture, and Canada’s Francophone culture in general is not an insurmountable task – even if you don’t speak French. I’m trying my best to cover topics which are relevant, and which pertain to what normal people see in the media, on the street, as well as what everyday common people talk about over meals, at work, and at home.
I would even venture to bet that should you travel to Québec, that you would already be in a position to begin to feel like you are in familiar territory (from a cultural standpoint) – regardless of your French language level. Regardless where you live in Canada, hopefully you’re even beginning to feel that aspects of Canada’s Francophone culture are part of your own culture, at a very personal level. That is a very commendable feat, and I’m quite humbled to know there is a good number of people who are regularly following my posts.
So to those who are faithfully reading this blog, thank-you. I’ll do my best to keep bringing you new topics as time allows. Let’s keep moving forward, and let’s keep building bridges! 🙂
The official websites for
- Théatre St-Denis is http://theatrestdenis.com/en/
- Le Capitole is http://www.lecapitole.com/en/index.php
Should you travel to Montréal or Québec City, these websites (in English & French) have performance information, showtimes, and tickets.
Véronic DiCaire – Who is that singing? (#167)
Véronic DiCaire has become a singing sensation on two fronts, both here on the homefront as well as abroad. She has a career as a singer, with a couple of really good albums to her name. But she has become wildly famous for being able to impersonate over 50 celebrities (you would swear she is actually Céline Dion if you were to listen to her sing with your eyes shut… I’ll provide a link to her official YouTube channel below).
A couple of nights ago, I happend to see her in a whole new light, which is prompting me to write this post. I’ll get to this a bit later. But first, let’s begin from the end (the big stuff), and then quickly work backwards.
DiCaire has become a star who had a permanent show in Vegas (at least until it was no longer permanent), doing her singing impersonations. She has been a coach/judge on France’s X-Factor, and she has had numerous televised specials in Francophone Switzerland, in France, and here at home, in Montréwood.
How she came to this point is a bit of an interesting story… (un alignement fortuit des astres en sortes, if you’re looking for a new expression in French).
First, Véronic DiCaire is not from Québec. She is Franco-Ontarienne (or Ontaroise as Franco-Ontariens are now being called more-and-more) from the community of Embrun, not far from Ottawa, in the francophone region of Eastern Ontario. However much of her career has centred around Montréwood, where she found some of her big breaks.
DiCaire performed in numerous stage musicals from the time she was a young lady in the early 2000s, performing in Montréal, as well as in Paris. It introduced her to some of the larger names in Montréwood’s pop-culture industry and resulted in an album which brought her more attention as a Felix nominee in 2005.
Things moved quite fast and she became an opening act for Céline Dion’s Taking Chances tour around 2008, doing singing impersonations of other celebrities. René Angélil was won over and he sent her on tour as as star in her own right, across Québec, France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Her impersonation talents and hit performances have since made her a household name in Francophone Canada, across Francophone Europe, and with many Anglophones. It’s safe to say she has pop-star status.
At the beginning of this post I mentioned I just saw her in a whole new light. Véronic DiCaire just finished hosting SNL Québec (Québec’s version of Saturday Night Live) – and she was amazing!! I have never seen her in this light before and her acting talents are just as good as her voice. When I watched her introduction at the start of the show, the way she was carrying herself and the way she joked immediately reminded me of the type of charm Cameron Diaz radiates. Check it out and see if I’m wrong. You can watch the episode yourself on Télé-Québec’s website here: http://zonevideo.telequebec.tv/media/19936/veronic-dicaire/snl-quebec.
Something else which is kind of interesting… she shared the stage in SNL with Katherine Levac who is also Ontaroise, from a community just down the road from where DiCaire grew up.
Véronic DiCaire’s official website is http://veronicdicaire.com/
Official videos can be viewed on her on her YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuKhv2Zf2Fo&feature=youtu.be
If you’re in France, Eastern Ontario, Belgium, Québec, or Switzerland over the next few months, see if you can catch one of her shows.
Please stick to official sites and do not pirate. Our artists are part of our cultural heritage.
DiCaire just annonced she will be doing pan-Canadian tours in English for Anglophones and also in French for Francophones in Western Canada, Ontario and Acadia. Refer to her official website in the coming months for dates, locations and tickets.
Guylaine Tremblay – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 2 of 3 (#151)
Few television actresses are as recognizable as Guylaine Tremblay. She has played central rolls in some of Montréwood’s most successful TV drama and comedy series, which have included La Petite vie, Omerta, Unité 9, and Les Rescapés.
I recently listened to an on-air radio interview in which Marina Orsini interviewed Guylaine Tremblay. In the interview, I think Orsini hit the nail on the head when she told Tremblay she believes Tremblay’s public appeal lies in her being someone the public can identify with – the person who could be anyone’s sister, mother, or daughter – and that it is not only reflected through her acting rolls, but how she leads her life in general.
Tremblay is the mother of adopted daughters (the theme of not carrying one’s own children is a theme which Tremblay and Ariane Moffatt discuss in detail – which I present in the next post), and lives with her husband.
I will say, one thing which caught my eye (actually quite surprisingly) was when Tremblay politicised herself (at least in the sense of giving herself a public political label in the mind of people who have followed her career). I say this because, over the course of her 30 year career, she’s someone I, and others, grew up watching in Western Canada (she is very well respected by Francophones, Francophiles, and French speaking Anglophones all across Canada) – and she was someone I always considered to be part of my own cultural sphere. She unexpectedly appeared (at least for me it was unexpected) on stage at the Parti Québécois’ “Rassemblement national” prior to last-year’s election. That doesn’t bother me in-and-of-itself (I think political engagement is important and a necessary part of our democracy – and a society must have to have opposing political views to make keep the democratic process healthy and make it work). But it has always felt like a case of “innocence lost” when actors and actresses take on a high-profile political stance (regardless of the political party or ideology) — and when they do, it always seems to feel like they jumped off the pedestal on which you purposely wanted to place them. When I saw Tremblay get on stage that night, I can distinctly remember thinking to myself “Oh man! Guylaine, of all the things you could have done, why did you have to go and choose to do ‘this thing’?”. It’s a bit disconcerting, because as the public, we tend to think that our actors and actresses belong to all of us, regardless of political stripes. In that sense, they are so often a point of commonality and unity in a world often filled with petty divisions and differences. That’s one of the beautiful things of the acting profession which should be cherished. But then some go and take that feeling away by placing themselves in a political camp – basically saying, there’s “us” and then there’s “you”. It’s just not a nice feeling.
But I suppose at the end of the day, there is still a human behind every acting role, and everyone has the right to express their political beliefs – and we should respect everyone’s right to make such choices. It’s maybe not a pleasant reality, but we live in a very real world, not in utiopia.
Regardless, she’s still an amazingly talented actor, one of the best Québec & Canada has – and all the drama series in which she appears would not have nearly the same degree of a human element without her (she is a very human person – and anytime I see her true personality in interviews, I really get the impression she could so easily have been any of the bubbly, kind, caring, and empathetic people I grew up with in Alberta, or anywhere, really – be it friends or family… that’s why I really like her).
In the next post, we’ll take a brief look at a summary of the conversation Guylaine Tremblay and Ariane Moffatt had when they met and shared a one-on-one meal on L’Autre côté à la table d’à côté.
MINI “EAVESDROPPING” SERIES
- Ariane Moffatt – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 1 of 3 (#150)
- Guylaine Tremblay – An “eavesdropping” short series: Moffatt-Tremblay – Post 2 of 3 (#151)
- “L’autre midi, À la table d’à côte”; Moffatt-Tremblay discussion summary post 3 of 3 (#152) (with link to the radio episode)
Yup, There are those days which sometimes seem like this… (#142)
You ever just have one of those days? …
And then there are those Franco-life dilemmas…
But just as you think you’re the only one, you see a glimmer of hope…
But alas, is best to eat away your Franco-sorrows…
And when that doesn’t work, look for the “sunny” side of things…Yeah, things can be rough after all of the above , so I tend to find solace in private “alone” time when driving, and listening to whatever I want…
But all is not lost… And no, you’re not alone… Are those Francophones walking by??
(Hey, I never claimed to be an artist. But as for being a realist… ) 🙂
Nah, life ain’t so bad… Some things are worth a laugh! (And yeah, there is lots of French outside Québec too, so word-to-the-wise… run with it wherever you are in Canada!).
Ouais, je concède c’est un peu poche, mais à 05h00 j’ai la cervelle qui frappe un nœud à matin. Ça doit être l’effet du soyeu (comme on dit en bon français prairien, ou l’effet du “nombril de la semaine” en bon québécois) … c’est mercredi malgré tout. Mais c’est pas toute qui est “couenné”… Je vois que ch’quand-même capable de faire sortir du bon prairien de l’écorce à c’t’heure du matin! Chose certaine, une gorgée de café et ch’erais remis drette-là 😉
François Massicotte (#140)
In the last post “Rendez-vous de la Francophonie”, I mentioned that François Massicotte is one of the co-spokespersons for the event.
This actually is a big thing because Massicotte is such a well-known public figure (he was one of the people I watched on television growing up and who I continue to often see on TV as an adult).
He is best known as a (stand-up) comedian. I’d venture to say that Massicotte is as well known in Québec and other Francophone regions of Canada as the Canadian comedian, Howie Mandel, is known in Anglophone Canada (an interesting quirk… Mandel grew up only a couple blocks from where I live in Toronto).
Like Mandel, Massicotte has routinely ventured beyond his stand-up comedy mould and has filled the roles of a game show host, as well as acting roles in sitcoms and television commercials.
It’s François Massicotte’s numerous high-profile television commercials which perhaps has solidified him in the minds of Québécois as much as his comedy career has (we may see his comedy acts a few times a year, but for a good number of people, we’ve seen his commercials much more often).
He is known for using his notoriety for supporting good causes, such as La Fondation du centre de jeunesse de Montréal (The Foundation for the Montréal Youth Centre), and his support for Le Rendez-vous de la francophonie is one more cause to which he has offered his name.
Across Canada, you can often catch him on the televised portions of the Juste pour rire! (Just for Laughs!) comedy festival (which periodically airs on Radio-Canada throughout the year).
Massicotte’s official website is: http://francoismassicotte.com. His website actually is quite interesting. Unlike many other celebrities, his website offers his own short blog section in which he gives his thoughts on a range of issues (that’s actually quite bold for a celebrity). Check it out.
I’m happy to see that he’s one of the official spokespeople for Le Rendez-vous de la Francophonie – I think that speaks volumes to the type of guy Massicotte is, and it’s a great way to raise the profile of such a wonderful event.