To see a rehearsal/interview video with insight into the process: The Aeneid trailer (http://talisman-
Sometimes flight is necessary, leaving everything behind in pursuit of a new place to call home. Rich with scenes of moving drama and biting humour, Kemeid's version of this classic tale migrates the search for a homeland into the modern world of a middle-eastern revolution. In this powerful and disturbing new adaptation, we encounter tourist resorts, refugee camps and immigration officers, but the mythic magic of Virgil’s original epic remains a visit to Hades and encounters with underworld spirits. The Aeneid’s message is as relevant today as when it was originally written: the importance of family, friends and a place called ‘home’.
“Don’t be afraid. I left my hate at the foot of a barbed-wire fence.” – Aeneas
This is the first time Kemeid’s play will be staged using puppetry. Director Zach Fraser is the mastermind designer/builder behind each of the 22 characters; Fruzsina Lanyi designs the puppet’s colourful costumes. The Aeneid is timeless and universal as it examines the voyage of a modern-day refugee. Not unlike War Horse in its innovative use of dramatic puppetry, yet playful in its caricatures, this is no Sesame Street. This is a unique evening at the theatre, combining beautiful language with hand-crafted puppets.The story’s heroes come to life as characters effortlessly move from one place and time to another - with just a flip of a few set pieces they’re on a boat, in an office, in Hades or at a resort.
Fraser has wanted to examine the immigrant experience and the idea of ‘the other’ for several years,“In 2007, the debate around ‘reasonable accommodations’
”The three actor/puppeteers feel a strong personal connection to the play as their backgrounds include leaving one home to find another. For Chimwemwe Miller, born in Blantyre Malawi, the range of intricacies and subtleties is what speaks to him directly, “People have to mourn loss while seeking a place to call home, often dealing with alienation and dehumanization at the hands of a headless administrative machine.”
With his parents and sister, Marcelo Arroyo fled Chile under Pinochet’s dictatorship. He cites two characters from The Aeneid who define who he is: The Compatriot, a stranded fellow in a refugee camp, waiting in a no-man's land, implores Aeneas to find for his son "a land that will gather him in, a welcoming land, a safe land." Arroyo adds, “For my family, that 'safe land' became Canada.” The second character is Achates, the loyal companion to Aeneas, who shouts something that has haunted Arroyo since he became a professional actor: “An immigrant; he'll be an immigrant all his life, they'll never let him in.” Arroyo continues, “In the social context of this province, the query is often ‘where to cast an actor whose name ends in 'o' but sounds too much like us’.” Arroyo concludes, “Identity is accepting all that you've done to become the person you are now, your home is wherever you live, and being different is the strength you can give to others.”
Deena Aziz, of South Asian heritage, recently portrayed The Pious One in Imago Theatre’s The Birds, another work addressing the refugee experience. She notes, “I am always happy for the opportunity to get involved in any activities or outreach related to groups working with women refugees, especially from conflict zones.”
Lyne Paquette, Talisman Theatre’s Artistic Director and co-set designer with Fruzsina Lanyi,was drawn to the high contrast of the play which is evidenced in her design, “We are focusing on the juxtapositions inherent in the text- old/new, contemporary/
“I’m not a humanitarian organization;
The Aeneid (9 shows only)
Talisman Theatre, playing at Theatre La Chapelle, 3700 rue St. Dominique
March 6-15: Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00 pm. Matinee: Sat., March 15 at 3:00 pm
Tickets: 29$ regular, 25$ students 514 843-7738 or purchase online: La Chapelle box office (https://billetterie.lachapelle.org/
For all bios and further information-
Talisman Theatre’s mission is to produce English-language premières of contemporary Québécois works, bringing the visceral intensity of Québécois theatrical practice to non-Francophones.