Review: Les Zinspires

by Lynn on November 26, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Berkeley Street Theatre, Upstairs, Toronto, Ont.


Les Zinspirés is a wonderful initiative of Théâtre Français de Toronto (TFT) to give voice to the next generation of playwrights, creators or simply audiences. High school students are invited to write stories, in French, and submit them to TFT. The next step is that the best are selected so that the students work on them with mentors, to hone them, and shape them so that five are chosen for a live performance. And at the opening night the five writers get a royalty cheque.

This is my first experience with Les Zinspirés. After seeing these five playlets, I regret missing past years of the initiative.

The five chosen are:

Jugements by Eric VanHauwaert. It’s about Luc is on a school trip from the small town of Hearst to the big city of Toronto. He’s cynical; has a crush on his teacher; and he gets separated from his school group and gets lost. He only speaks French. How will he communicate with these rushing Torontonians? One gave him wrong directions. Will Luc ever find his mates?

Soliloque d’un Menteur by Mande Tonde. Jérémy is addicted to lying. I does it effortlessly. He’s been lying for a long time. If a person asks for directions, he lies about where something is. It gives him a sense of power. But then his lying comes back to bite him.

Amoureuse en Route by Stephanie Kroone. Madeleine is shy, awkward and bookish. One day she looks up from her book while on the bus and meets the boy of her dreams. He doesn’t seem interested. She persists. She finds his cell phone that he’s left on the bus and goes about finding him to give it back. What happens is unexpected.

Peur du Placard by Jennie Morrison. Trevor is gay. When he gets up the courage to tell his parents they are accepting. His school mates are not so forgiving. One is an angry bully. Trevor takes the harassment even though his friend Madeleine urges him to stand up to the bully. He finally does when his friend is insulted.

Destination Célébrité by Laura Jackson is about Sophie, a raucous-laughing, joking, bubbly young woman who wants to be a famous actress. She plans to fly to New York for an audition in a film. But she meets a mysterious stranger who wants her to do something for a lot of money.

These stories reveal a sense of humour, depth of character, whimsy and of course various issues that affect young people. They were given five strong productions by director Sébastien Bertrand and his stalwart cast of Mélanie Beauchamp, Geneviève Dufour, François MacDonald, Matt Raffy, and Alex Weiner. There is nuance and fine details in each performance.

Glenn Davidson has created a set that looks like a bank of school lockers that reveal slide out sections that become chairs, stools, tables, a bed etc. Clever and efficient.

The writers of these five plays have something to say that should be heard. Théâtre Français de Toronto is the place you can go to hear them, until November 28.

Presented by Théâtre Français de Toronto

Opened: Nov. 20, 2015.
Closes: Nov. 28, 2015.
Cast: 5; 3 men, 2 women
Running Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.

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