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Mount Allison University’s unique bilingual theatre company set to present new comedy

Alex Fancy is the director of Tintamarre, Mount Allison University’s unique bilingual theatre company.
Alex Fancy is the director of Tintamarre, Mount Allison University’s unique bilingual theatre company. - Contributed

: Tintamarre staging loneliness and laughter with SOLITAIRE

SACKVILLE, N.B. – Imagine a dress rehearsal in a small-town theatre directed by Sigmunda, local bilingual author and ‘doyenne’ of the arts.

Her new play, SOLITAIRE, features loneliness, a 21st century epidemic. Sigmunda assures a journalist who has come from the capital city to review the show that, despite its theme, the play is a comedy. The evening will be more comedic than she could ever have imagined.

Tintamarre, Mount Allison University’s unique bilingual theatre company, will present its new comedy in the Motyer-Fancy Theatre, in the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts, Wednesday to Saturday, Feb. 6 to 9, at 7:30 p.m.

Spectators will soon be reminded that being alone can be both a blessing and a curse. Using Tintamarre’s signature collaborative approach, the troupe imagined five patterns of solitude: social invisibility, anger, recourse to fiction, eco-anxiety and, finally, the solitude of the promising artist who has yet to achieve recognition.

The five young ‘Solitaires’ have retreated to an abandoned space outside town, away from family, friends, community and the world. One by one, they act out their solitude and interact with others, both real and imagined, who, in the words of director Alex Fancy, are “the architects of their isolation.”

Tintamarre is known for strong images which, in the words of Noémie Chiasson, a third-year student and associate director, “destroy the language barrier.” One by one, the modern-day hermits construct a giant cocoon which, according to Fancy, “takes us back to Faith Popcorn, the New York futurist who coined the term ‘cocooning’ to describe modern isolation.”

Caitlin O’Connor, also a third-year student and associate director, plays Sigmunda whose premonitions of a disastrous dress rehearsal are realized when the artistic Solistar, played by Chiasson, takes the play off the rails, insisting the five recluses should appear together rather than alone. She says “the rebel celebrates solidarity that triumphs over solitude, and that reflects Tintamarre’s approach to theatre.”

Although Fancy writes the bilingual script, he says he does his best to channel the imagination of the actor-students who brainstormed for a period of 10 weeks: “Their story is our story.”

The colourful set and costumes have been designed by Nancy Perrin, lighting by Paul A. Del Motte. Nancy Vogan is musical consultant, and sound has been created by Anna Hardie, a second-year arts student.

Reservations can be made by contacting motyerfancytheatre@mta.ca 506-364-2234, and at the door. February 6, 8 and 9: $10, students and seniors $5. Thursday Feb. 7: Pay-what-you-can, no reservations.

SOLITAIRE will tour to Maritime schools in April-May, thanks to the J. E. A. Crake Foundation, Mount Allison alumni, friends of Tintamarre and participating schools.

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