Tag Archives: Peter DeFreitas

Decorating the lobby with “I Am Marguerite” costumes

When the run of a show ends, the theatre lingo for dismantling the set, putting away the lights, props and costumes, cleaning the dressing rooms, etc. is “the strike”. If you’re lucky, it can turn into a “strike party”.

After I Am Marguerite closed on April 25, producer Ramona Baillie had the idea to re-dress the mannequins which stand atop old firemen’s lockers (you knew that Alumnae Theatre was a working firehall until 1971, right? Check it out: http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/history.html ) in the lobby.

 

"I Am Marguerite" - Damienne costume (worn onstage by actor Heli Kivilaht), designed by Peter DeFreitas/Toni Hanson. On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show's run, April 10 - 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

“I Am Marguerite” – Damienne costume (worn onstage by actor Heli Kivilaht), designed by Peter DeFreitas/Toni Hanson. On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show’s run, April 10 – 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

The mannequins wear costumes from past productions – currently sporting gowns from Pride and Prejudice and Lady Windermere’s Fan, and a suit from The Love Of The Nightingale.

So I Am Marguerite costume designers Peter DeFreitas and Toni Hanson, assisted by Donna Langevin (whose son James Langevin was the production’s composer) re-dressed the mannequins in Marguerite costumes, and their antics – including clambering atop the 7-foot tall lockers – were captured by Marguerite playwright Shirley Barrie.  Enjoy!

"I Am Marguerite" costume designer Peter DeFreitas dresses a mannequin atop the old firemen's lockers in Alumnae Theatre lobby after the show run, April 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

“I Am Marguerite” costume designer Peter DeFreitas dresses a mannequin atop the old firemen’s lockers in Alumnae Theatre lobby after the show run, April 25, 2015.
Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

Costume designer Peter DeFreitas dresses a mannequin in Eugène costume from "I Am Marguerite" (worn onstage by actor Christopher Oszwald). On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show's run, April 10 - 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

Costume designer Peter DeFreitas dresses a mannequin in Eugène costume from “I Am Marguerite” (worn onstage by actor Christopher Oszwald). On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show’s run, April 10 – 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

"I Am Marguerite" - Queen of Navarre costume (worn onstage by actor Sara Price), designed by Peter DeFreitas. On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show's run, April 10 - 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

“I Am Marguerite” – Queen of Navarre costume (worn onstage by actor Sara Price), designed by Peter DeFreitas. On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show’s run, April 10 – 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

"I Am Marguerite" - Marguerite costume (worn onstage by actor Daniela Pagliarello), designed by Peter DeFreitas/Toni Hanson. On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show's run, April 10 - 25, 2015. The ladder in photo is temporary! Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

“I Am Marguerite” – Marguerite costume (worn onstage by actor Daniela Pagliarello), designed by Peter DeFreitas/Toni Hanson. On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show’s run, April 10 – 25, 2015. The ladder in photo is temporary! Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

"I Am Marguerite" costume designer Toni Hanson dresses a mannequin in the costume of Jean-François de Roberval (worn onstage by actor Chris Coculuzzi),  On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show's run, April 10 - 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

“I Am Marguerite” costume designer Toni Hanson dresses a mannequin in the costume of Jean-François de Roberval (worn onstage by actor Chris Coculuzzi), On display in lobby at Alumnae Theatre after the show’s run, April 10 – 25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie (the playwright)

 

Donna Langevin (mother of "I Am Marguerite" composer James Langevin) shakes a sleeve of mannequin dressed in the costume of Jean-François de Roberval (worn onstage by actor Chris Coculuzzi).  Lobby of Alumnae Theatre, after the show's run, April 10-25, 2015.  Photo:  Shirley Barrie

Donna Langevin (mother of “I Am Marguerite” composer James Langevin) shakes a sleeve of mannequin dressed in the costume of Jean-François de Roberval (worn onstage by actor Chris Coculuzzi). Lobby of Alumnae Theatre, after the show’s run, April 10-25, 2015. Photo: Shirley Barrie

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“I Am Marguerite” post-matinee Talkback, April 19

After yesterday’s matinee (Sunday April 20), patrons were treated to a Talkback with the cast, director Molly Thom, and playwright Shirley Barrie. Everyone was asked by producer Ramona Baillie to introduce themselves. What follows is a rough transcript – as fast as I could scribble – of the Q&A. Warning: may contain spoilers if you haven’t seen the show!

 

Q:           What happens to Marguerite? What’s the end of the story?

A (Shirley Barrie):   Marguerite did go back to France. Some stories report that she taught young girls. Enough people wrote about her that her story has endured for more than 4 centuries.

 

Q:           If this version of the play is “stripped down”, what was left out?

A (Shirley Barrie):   In other versions there was more talk, more backstory, more about the Queen of Navarre’s court, and how Marguerite might have had knowledge of the New World. Molly called all that “diversions”!

 

Q:           Was this originally a radio play?

A (Shirley Barrie):   Yes, the first version of this story was done as a radio play. It was much more straightforward – Marguerite was in France telling her story to the little girls.

 

Q:           Is this the last version?

A (Shirley Barrie):       Every time I wrote the story, I thought it was “the last”! But yes, I think I’m done now.

 

Q:           Was Jean-François in France when Marguerite returned?

A (Shirley Barrie):     Yes, he was there. He became a Calvinist – he had those extreme religious tendencies anyway – and was murdered in Paris a few years later. Outside a Calvinist church. He was never punished for abandoning Marguerite – it was fairly acceptable behaviour for the time and place, much the way honour killings are regarded today.

A (Molly Thom – director):   You’ll all be glad to know that his settlement [in Canada] was a disaster!

 

Q (Ramona Baillie – producer):   Last Wednesday, we performed a matinee for 130 students from Karen Kain School of the Arts, who are studying the “New France” settlement. The teachers said Jean-François might have been Marguerite’s uncle, not her brother?

A (Shirley Barrie): There are different reports of their relationship. As a writer, I had to choose one, and thought the brother/sister dynamic was better.

 

Q:           Daniela, what discoveries did you make as an actor playing this character?

A (Daniela Pagliarello, actor who plays Marguerite):   It’s a tough role. At first I thought “Oh, I can’t do this” – switching from past to present; going crazy… I discovered I could. There are very few roles like this for a young performer; I want to thank Shirley for writing this amazing part. It’s been scary, but great!

 

Q:           The music and soundscape of this play are wonderful! Can you talk about that?

A (Molly Thom – director):   We had a composer [James Langevin-Frieson] who did the songs and the dance music. Then our sound designer [Angus Barlow] manipulated the music, and added sound effects like the seagulls, waves crashing, wolves howling, etc. It really made the place come alive. Oh, but unfortunately the fog machine wasn’t working today. Normally when the phantoms appear at the start of the show, they’re coming through fog!

Daniela Pagliarello as Marguerite, Christopher Oszwald as Eugène.  Photo:  Bruce Peters.

Daniela Pagliarello as Marguerite, Christopher Oszwald as Eugène.     Photo: Bruce Peters.

Q:           What does Eugène do for a living? Why would her brother object to him marrying Marguerite?

A (Christopher Oszwald, actor who plays Eugène):   He’s a nobleman and a musician. Well, he’s the younger son of minor nobility, and the costume design kind of indicates that he’s not so noble. He planned to go on this expedition to the New World and make his fortune writing songs about it.

A (Shirley Barrie):   Eugène is the “spare, not the heir”, so he has to make his own way in the world.

 

Q (to Christopher Oszwald): Is that your real hair? [Ed note: much laughter from cast & audience]

A (Christopher Oszwald):   Yes, it is.

 

Q:           What was the audition process like?

A (Molly Thom):   About 150 actors sent resumés. We discarded about 100. I wanted actors with classical experience who could handle text.

 

Q:           Shirley and Molly, you’ve worked together many times before. What’s your next collaboration?

A:            Nothing planned at the moment. Yet.

 

Sara Price as the Queen of Navarre.  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Sara Price as the Queen of Navarre. Photo: Bruce Peters

Q:           The costumes are gorgeous.

A (Ramona Baillie):   Peter DeFreitas and Toni Hanson designed them. For instance, Peter just took some black velvet and gold braid and created the Queen of Navarre’s gown.

 

Q:           This is a question for all the cast. Do you have other jobs?

A (Sara Price, actor who plays the Queen of Navarre): Well, I haven’t made any money at acting! So I’m a supply teacher.

A (Christopher Oszwald): I just recently graduated from university. I have a part-time job.

A (Chris Coculuzzi, actor who plays Jean-François ):   I’m a full-time high school teacher.

Jean-François de Roberval (Chris Coculuzzi) dodges an attack from his sister Marguerite (Daniela Pagliarello).  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Jean-François de Roberval (Chris Coculuzzi) dodges an attack from his sister Marguerite (Daniela Pagliarello).    Photo: Bruce Peters

[Ed note: when pressed by other cast members, Chris admits to also running another theatre company, Amicus Productions.  “And don’t they have a show opening soon?” prompted Heli Kivilaht. They do – it’s “The Madwoman of Chaillot”, opening April 30. See inserts in your “I Am Marguerite” programs!]

A (Heli Kivilaht, actor who plays Marguerite’s nurse Damienne): I was a professional actor many years ago. Didn’t make much money, and became a teacher, which I loved. Now retired, and have been getting back into acting for the last 3 years or so.

A (Daniela Pagliarello): I’m an actor, a dancer, an artist. I run a gallery – it’s called Nowhere Gallery – on Dundas West. It’s a crazy wonder of a world, with a performance space as well as display space. We wanted a home for young up-and-coming artists of all disciplines.   [Reluctantly adds:]  I also have a “paying” job.

 

Q:   This is a very intense play. How do you prep and how do you decompress?

A (Sara): I start my prep at home.   Some physical work, some voice work. And when I get to the theatre, when I’m getting into my costume, sometimes I pretend I’m the Queen being dressed [by servants]. Before we go on, there’s a bench backstage that Heli and I hang out on. To decompress, it’s pretty simple. I take off the costume!

A (Christopher O.): I’m an anti-Method actor. To prep, I find my voice, find the resonance in my head and stomach. To decompress, I get out of costume.

A (Chris C): Nothing. Life is acting; everyone is always acting. When I walk into a classroom, I’m playing a role.

Heli Kivilaht as Damienne.  Photo:  Bruce Peters

Heli Kivilaht as Damienne (Marguerite’s nurse).     Photo: Bruce Peters

A (Heli): Well, I make sure I know the damn lines! My husband helped me put them on tape, so I review before each show. Plus we [the cast] have a fight call warmup and a choral warmup. And I improv in my head, like “Damn that Marguerite, why won’t she get dressed?”, and things like that. He [Chris C as Jean-François] gets the worst of it, though. You wouldn’t like to hear what I say about him!

A (Daniela):   I warm up my voice and spine. And I listen to aggressive 90’s hip hop, because I have to be crazy at the start of the play. To decompress, I listen to aggressive 90’s hip hop!

 **********************

I Am Marguerite’s final week runs Wed – Sat at 8pm, closing on April 25. Tickets for Wednesday are 2-for-1; all other nights $20. Purchase online at http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/i-am-marguerite.html , or reserve by calling 416-364-4170 Box 1 / e-mailing reservations@alumnaetheatre.com , and pay cash at the door. Box Office does not accept credit or debit cards for in-person sales.

"I Am Marguerite" cast in costumes.  Caricature by Peter DeFreitas.

“I Am Marguerite” cast in costumes. Caricature by designer Peter DeFreitas.

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Powerful, moving & beautifully raw storytelling in I Am Marguerite

life with more cowbell

Marguerite 1 Daniela Pagliarello & Christopher Oszwald in I Am Marguerite – photo by Bruce Peters

In 1542, banished from a French ship by a heartless, domineering brother, Marguerite de Roberval is set afloat on a skiff towards a remote island off the north coast of Newfoundland. With her are her faithful nurse and her lover Eugene. Left with scant provisions and in fear of never seeing home or loved ones again, they land on the Isle of Demons with the prospect of perishing in the face of cold, harsh winters and predatory wildlife.

This is the story, a little-known piece of Canadian history, brought to life on stage in an hour-long, emotionally and psychologically packed play by Shirley Barrie. This is I Am Marguerite, directed by Molly Thom – and it opened to a packed house at Alumnae Theatre last night.

The storytelling is taut and compelling, shifting in and…

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Sitting in on “I Am Marguerite” rehearsal, April 1

Bloggergal picked a good day to check out a rehearsal for I Am Marguerite, which opens on April 10. Not only was the cast in full costume (for the benefit of photographer Bruce Peters, who snapped away during the run), but it was also director Molly Thom’s birthday – no foolin’! Producer Ramona Baillie surprised Molly with a cake, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday”.

Bones (prepared by set designer Marysia Bucholc) for "I Am Marguerite".

Bones (prepared by set designer Marysia Bucholc) for “I Am Marguerite”.  Photo: Bruce Peters

Before the run started, I got a chance to take a close look at the bones onstage – yes, they’re real! Set designer Marysia Bucholc bought them at St. Lawrence Market – a giant cow bone and several large fish – and boiled them to remove the flesh. “I got excellent stock out of it,” she says!

Sound designer Angus Barlow was sitting at a production table in the middle of the house, beside stage manager Margot Devlin (Kelsey Rutledge takes over as stage manager on Saturday for the rest of the performances). Angus played a recording of a new lute piece by composer James Langevin-Frieson for Molly’s approval.

There was a small audience watching the run – assistant director Meg Moran, assistant producer Dale Stewart, set designer’s assistant Fotini Paraschos, lighting designer Wesley McKenzie, and costume designers Peter DeFreitas and Toni Hanson.

 Having read (OK, devoured) Shirley Barrie’s amazing script for I Am Marguerite, I knew that it is not a straightforward telling of a historical event. But this performance blew me away.

"I Am Marguerite":  Marguerite de Roberval (Daniela Pagliarello - front left); Eugene (Christopher Oszwald - front - right); Jean-Francois de Roberval (Chris Coculuzzi  - left rear); Damienne (Heli Kivilaht - centre); Queen of Navarre (Sara Price - right rear).

The play begins with Marguerite (Daniela Pagliarello – left front in this photo by Bruce Peters) marooned on a deserted island off Newfoundland in 1542.   Wisps of smoke conjure up Nfld fog; eerie wolf howls raised goosebumps. And she sees a ship approaching – there is the possibility of rescue.  How Marguerite wound up on the Isle of Demons for two years, and her relationships with her ambitious brother Jean-François (Chris Coculuzzi – left rear), her old nurse Damienne (Heli Kivilaht – centre), her lute-playing lover Eugène (Christopher Oszwald – front right) and her mentor the Queen of Navarre (Sara Price – right rear) is told in a series of scenes that flow into and out of each other, fluidly jumping around in time.  It was not at all confusing: for example, sea noises and gull cries would cue us that a scene was taking place aboard the ship that sailed Jean-François and Marguerite from France to the New World, where he planned to be “King of Canada”.

Shirley Barrie calls I Am Marguerite “a play for a soloist and a quartet of voices”, and that description seemed perfectly apt when reading the words on the page, but it came to magical life when I was watching it play out on the stage.

After the run, all the designers took turns conferring with Molly or the actors about what worked, what didn’t, etc. I eavesdropped on costume designers Peter DeFreitas and Toni Hanson, talking to Sara Price, who plays the very regal and proper Queen of Navarre. In addition to the most stunning gown – seen below – Sara also sports an amazing wig, which Peter made by attaching various hairpieces to a black velvet cap.

Costume designed by Peter DeFreitas for the Queen of Navarre in "I Am Marguerite" (world premiere April 10-25, 2015 at Alumnae Theatre Company)

Costume designed by Peter DeFreitas for the Queen of Navarre in “I Am Marguerite” (world premiere April 10-25, 2015 at Alumnae Theatre Company)

Having spoken last week to props designer Razie Brownstone (who was experimenting with fabric and gelatin), I was very interested to check out the fish that Marguerite catches and eats in the play. Tonight she worked with a fish made from fabric, with a handy pocket to accommodate her stabbing and gutting it. “There was talk of putting gummy worms in the pocket so I could eat them as fish guts, and I’m so down with that!”, Daniela told me. But the fish I saw tonight may not be the final version in performance.

Ramona insisted that everyone on the production team gather onstage with the actors to have a photo taken. There will be official photos coming soon.

In the meantime, don’t forget to reserve or purchase a ticket for the WORLD PREMIERE of I Am Marguerite, running April 10 – 25. http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/i-am-marguerite.html

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“February” costume design inspirations

A few days ago, I asked the director (Michelle Alexander) and designers of set, lighting, sound and costumes for  February to tell me something about their inspiration or process.  Here’s what costume designer Peter DeFreitas (you’ve seen his wonderful work onstage in Alumnae productions such as The Trojan Women and Closer)   had to say:

before i started with the costume selection i created a binder to house the script, some notes and sketches.  i created this collage based on a conversation with michelle before really delving into the work – just as images that would inspire something…like a reference point.  it now has become the cover of the binder.

“February” costume designer Peter DeFreitas’ inspirations.

Remember,  February  opens on Friday, Sept 21.  Did we mention that it’s a world premiere?  And that the playwright, Lisa Moore, will be there?  Oh, yes she will!  Wanna ask her a question?  Come to the matinee on Sept 23 and stay for the Talkback.  Book tickets now (for all performances) at reservations@alumnaetheatre.com, or 416-364-4170, box 1.

 

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