PASSION & HISTOIRE BLOG – On the stage of the Théâtre Cercle Molière, Article 23 and its sequel

Kenza Zaoui - Translated by Jocelyne Fournier

This October, the Théâtre Cercle Molière presents an in-person play entitled “L’Article 23 et sa suite” (translates to Article 23 and its sequel).

Article 23 is the 23rd section of the Manitoba Act of 1870, which puts English and French on the same footing in judicial and legislative institutions.

Now, “L’Article 23” is a 1985 theater / cabaret play that was performed at the TCM and the Prairie Theater Exchange in the midst of a linguistic conflict. A television recording of this play has survived to this day, which in 2019 lead to the creation of a new piece, “L’Article 23 et sa suite”.

2019? Well, yes, due to the pandemic the actors had to wait two years before hitting the stage. However, Laura Lussier, the play’s director, had discusses with the original authors and no one wanted to simply rewrite the 1985 piece. This is where Yan Dallaire comes in: he signed this adaptation of the 1985 play while extending the story until the present day. Constant rewriting and adaptation were necessary as news and health guidelines evolved.

I had no idea what to expect when I settled into the red chair the night of the premiere. And for three hours, I went through a whole bunch of emotions. Laughter first, but also the reflection on my own situation as an immigrant and on my practice of the French language, the hope, and the relief of being able to once again enjoy a vibrant cultural life in French.

The play is split into two acts; with a touch of meta-theater as the actors often comment on what is happening in the play. Act one serves as context for the contemporary audience, incorporating elements of the original play. It traces the chronology of French language in Manitoba, from Louis Riel to the Official Manitoba Language Act of 1890, George Forest, and the role of cultural institutions. All of this history is presented through music, song, dance, and with incredible humor. You’ll enjoy a mix of slam poetry, alexandrines, and jokes.

Act two has the modern components, taking a look at today’s Manitoban Francophonie, which has been in the news in recent years, as well as the role of immigration and education. It’s bound to make you laugh, with a splash of self-mockery and a whole lot of truth about our modern society.

The chemistry between the five actors (Micheline Girardin, Micheline Marchildon, Simon Miron, Daniel Péloquin-Hopfner and Andrina Turenne) is incredible (and their energy too). The music is lively, and great care has been taken in the sets and costumes. Be sure to not miss the 80s inspired exhibit in the lobby of the TCM, nor the chronology on the panels installed against the bay windows.

“L’Article 23 et sa suite” is being presented at the Théâtre Cercle Molière until October 23, so you better go see it now! You can even bring your English-speaking relatives, because tablets with subtitles are available for each performance. For its 96th season, the TCM has a new pricing system with fair ticketing, to promote access to art to a larger public. Four rates are available to choose from, from $ 0 to $ 40 per seat.