Q&A with Coline Grunblatt
March 20, 2009
French Language Assistant Coline Grunblatt is directing this year’s French play “On purge Bébé.” The student actors, part of French Class 444, will perform the play in French, April 1–2, at 7:30 p.m., on Fir Acres Main stage. The performance is free to the campus community. The Source caught up with Coline to find out more.
What can you tell us about this year’s play?
This French Comedy, written by Georges Feydeau, was performed for the first time in 1910. It tells the story of M. Follavoine has just invented an unbreakable chamber pot (pot de chambre) that he intends to market for military use with the help of M. Chouilloux. Follavoine’s frantic wife strongly opposes the idea of her husband becoming known as the seller of chamber pots and would like for him instead to spend more time caring for their daughter, Mimi (or Bébé). Mimi, as it turns out, suffers from what her mother considers to be a serious case of constipation. Furthermore, she refuses to take her laxative (une purgation). A series of chaotic events emerges as everybody tries to persuade Mimi to take her medicine and as Follavoine tries to ignore this family crisis to continue with his business meeting. All the adults are busy with a new unexpected drama. Is someone a cuckold (un cocu)? Is he being cheated on by his wife? Meanwhile Mimi takes advantage of the situation in creative ways to recapture the attention of her mother in the final moments of a play you will love.
How many students are participating and what can you tell us about them?
We have nine actors, a light designer and three people helping us to film the two shows. The students playing are part of a French Class (FREN 444, a practicum class) and we have been working on this project since the beginning of the semester. I’m directing the play, and we all meet three times a week every week to rehearse, and also organize all the other aspects of the play : the stage directions, the costumes, the props, the publicity, etc.
Each student has to learn his/her lines, work on the play to understand the story, and help us with the overall organization!
Most of the students have at least 4 semester of French behind them (more than French 202) but one of them is in 202 right now. The actors are:
Melissa Sweet: Mimi
Martin Watkinson: Bastien Follavoine
Alina Larson: Rose
Claire Sparks: Julie Follavoine
Jose Quant: Adhéaume Chouilloux
Anthony Mick: Bastien Follavoine
Sara Standish: Julie Follavoine
Mrs Chouilloux: Zoë Cooper-Caroselli
Horace Truchet: Alison Bailey
What is the best thing about being the director for this year’s play?
The best thing about directing the French play this year is seeing the progress made by the students… their pronunciation in this one hour play has improved so much and their acting has evolved so well as they learn more about the play and what is going on in it. The other part of the job that is great is that I had a great occasion to manage a project and all its different aspects: the human part with the students, the group leading part, the practical part with the Theater department etc etc. It was really interesting!
What do you do in your spare time (when you’re not directing plays)?
When I’m not directing this play, I’m a language assistant at LC, I’m a study-abroad student (from Strasbourg, France) for one year at LC, and I try to discover more about the Americans in USA.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I want to give special thanks to:
Lewis & Clark College’s French Section for its constant support.
Merci Claudia, Isabelle, Mireille et Nicole!
Merci aussi à Maarit et Lindsay for your help!
The Theatre Department and especially Matthew Robins, Cara Carr, Jahnavi Caldwell-Green, Joyce Beeny, Cat Menkel, and Melissa Sweet for their advice, their help and their time.
The actors for their patience, time, effort and “bonne humeur”.
Luke Epain, Rachel Lippoldt and Remy Neymarc for their special French input.
Georges Feydeau for writing such a comical play.