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Emerging Perspectives: Caroline Bélisle

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Playwright and Actor Caroline Bélisle: Flora, Fauna, and Femininity

Caroline Bélisle was selected by Mishka Lavigne to receive an Emerging Artist Grant in 2023 thanks to funding from The Youssef-Warren Foundation.

 

As a writer, what ideas/themes appeal to you?

When I write, I constantly return to zoology or botany. My fascination with flora and fauna guides my writing, inspiring many of the relationships between my characters and their environment, both concretely and metaphorically. I’m never more inspired than when confronted with the existence of a new mushroom.

I’m also very interested in femininity, whether it’s felt, perceived or imagined. Writing characters that are resolutely feminine, yet complex and fundamentally different from one another, has proved extremely liberating in my writing, and has become like a quest that imposes itself with each new text I begin.

Caroline’s theater, her writing, is deeply human, full of humor, grit, honesty and poetry. Caroline knows how to create brutally conscious and yet extremely touching moments for her characters. Her writing is both feminist and committed.
– Mishka Lavigne

 

What is your proudest theatrical achievement?

I jump at any chance to change my style, or to explore new avenues, without ever compromising the sensitivity of my approach or my linguistic signature. So far, each new text I’ve written has made me prouder than the last, because upon finishing, I always feel as if I’ve managed to navigate another labyrinth whose atmosphere was far richer than the one that came before it. I’m very proud of my play Les remugles ou La danse nuptiale est une langue morte, an intimate comedic piece in which I showed my vulnerability through creating characters so close to those in my everyday life that they practically came out from under my skin. Now, I’m excited by the idea of seeing the eventual production of my next play Les ensevelies, a half tragedy, half children’s story that will serve the audience all the cruelty they can handle, wrapped up in all the beauty in the world.


What’s next for you?

I often alternate between acting and writing projects – that’s what keeps me on my toes. Caroline the actress has just finished two months of shooting a fiction series in New Brunswick, and Caroline the playwright is now devoting her summer to writing her next play.

I’m very lucky to be writer-in-residence at Théâtre la Seizième in Vancouver. I’m currently working on a show for them that’s light, strange and disturbing all at once, brutal, yet resolutely gentle. On the menu: death, lullabies and bunnies!

Then, in the fall, Caroline the actress returns in force in a completely mad theatrical project that will question the very mechanisms of power, co-produced by Moncton’s Théâtre l’Escaouette and Quebec City’s Carte Blanche.

 

How did you meet Mishka? Has your relationship changed since she selected you to receive the Emerging Artists Grant?

The first time I heard an excerpt from one of Mishka’s plays, it was being performed by students at my University. I remember immediately wanting to know which author it was. For years, I kept hearing about her from afar. We don’t live in the same province, but we’re connected through the great network that is French-Canadian theater. Every time one or the other of us has visited our respective cities, we’ve had an unavoidable rendezvous in a local café for a rich conversation about the other’s writing.

Of course, ever since Mishka gave me the immense gift of her trust through the Siminovitch Prize Emerging Artists Grant, I’ve been very grateful to her and have been actively looking for ways to unite our worldviews and schedules around the same project. She’s an artist I admire enormously. She’s brilliant, has a very sharp eye and a precise pen. Not only is she prolific and ambitious, she’s consistent and meticulous. She is a fixture in Canadian francophone drama.

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