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Bogaard and Derkx Bring Major Québécois Play to Nelson Stage (in English)

Bill Metcalfe
By Bill Metcalfe
August 20th, 2012

Adriana Bogaard is directing 26 characters in Alphonse, coming up at the TNT Playhouse. But she’s only got one actor. She doesn’t think this is a problem.

“The key to one-man plays,” she says, “is choosing a script that really showcases that person’s talents, and in this play there are so many great moments about childhood and youthfulness, and about becoming an adult, that I thought it would be great for Oscar Derkx. The things he brings to it are energy and enthusiasm. He is so genuine and emotive and this script captures that.”

How does an actor deal with playing so many parts? “To me it feels like I get to be a kid again,” says the 22-year-old Derkx. “I get to make up all these zany characters and do accents, which is what I loved to do when I was a kid.”

Hitting the wall

“I have never done a one man show before,” he says, “and when Adrianna approached me with it I was a bit scared, but she and I have worked together a lot in the past and she is still one of the best directors I have ever worked with. I am really confident that she has the abilities to lead me through this process.”

And the process sounds like a tough one. “It has been a huge challenge for me,” says Derkx, whose Nelson theatre resume goes back to when he was six. “This is the first rehearsal process where I have hit the wall, energy-wise. I get to a point in the day when there is nothing left, I am just empty. I have always been really proud of all the energy I can give out in rehearsal but this one is pushed me to the limit. I have been grateful to my education this past year because without my voice training this year I would be hooped.”

Derkx is in his third year of theatre studies at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

Poetic, beautiful, and funny too

“The play is about Alphonse, a boy who has disappeared,” says Derkx.  “It seems that he is run away from home, and so the story jumps back and forth between his parents at home worrying about him, the police inspector conducting a search for him, and Alphonse who is walking along this road and making up stories and characters.

“It is typical of Wajdi Mouawad’s writing style. It is very poetic and beautiful and dense and wise.  But something cool in this script is there is lots of zany comedy, zany Quebecois comedy.”

Mouawad: famous in Quebec, unknown here

The Lebanese-Quebecois playwright, actor, and director Wajdi Mouawad wrote Alphonse. Mouawad’s fame in Quebec and his relative obscurity in Western Canada are typical of the divide between the two cultures. Mouawad won the Governor- General’s Award for drama in 2000 and he is an Officer of the Order of Canada. He has also received significant recognition in France. The film version of his play Incendies (Scorched) was nominated for an Oscar as best foreign-language film in 2011 and has won numerous other awards.

For kids and adults

“There are some great moments of levity and comedy in Alphonse,” says Bogaard, “and there is also poetic soul-searching, and it all ties together in the end to make this beautiful poetic piece. Kids over ten should totally love it. There is enough in it for adults to sink their teeth into, and enough imagination for kids to enjoy it.

Home and away

Nelson’s role as an incubator of young theatre talent is one of the main reasons for its reputation as an arts town, and Adriana Bogaard, 25, is part of that.

She grew up in Nelson, took part in Richard Rowberry’s youth theatre productions here, and then went to UBC and got a degree in theatre. Since then she has worked in theatre production in New Brunswick, Montreal and Vancouver.

But she has never abandoned her home town, returning periodically to direct Blackbird, The Santaland Diaries, The Fantastics, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, andTramp over the past few years.

Alphonse runs on the following dates at the TNT Playhouse, corner of Carbonate and Ward:

Friday August 24- 7:30 pm 
Saturday August 25th- 7:30 pm

Sunday August 26th- 2pm & 7:30 pm
Thursday, August 30th- 7:30 pm
Saturday, September 1st- 2pm & 7:30pm

Tickets are available at The Music Store, 580 Baker St.

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