From June 8 to 12, I had the great pleasure to provide the artistic direction for Le Gala Nouvelle Scène in Regina. This is a week of training for new Franco-Saskatchewan artists, at the end of which the participants perform on-stage. The gala winner will represent Saskatchewan at Chant'Ouest (an interprovincial event) to try for their chance to represent the West at the Festival international de la chanson de Granby in 2016. So I had two main components to manage during the week: teaching participants and putting on the show.
Regarding the teaching, I was very fortunate to work with a great team: Giselle Lemire (lyrics, performance, managing stage fright, etc.), Christie-Anne Blondeau (vocal technique), Michel Lalonde (music industry) and Gent Laird (arrangements and musical director). We managed to establish a working environment in which participants feel comfortable opening up ... but really. We helped each participant to build personal connections with their songs, to create an authentic subtext that supports their performance ... and, from there, we saw them flourish. Using music as the thread tying the lyrics together, they embroidered a musical universe that was all their own. It was so awesome - in the true sense of the word. I was in awe of them the night of the show.
Vincent Turgeon, a journalist from CBC-SK that had followed us throughout the week, created some great portraits of the participants: Stephen Fletcher, Pascale Marceau-Koziki, Daniel Lelbanc and the duo Ferré et Fontaine. They have talent, they are open, generous, curious and so awesome ... Discover them here: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/saskatchewan/2015/06/11/011-apprendre-chanson-participants-nouvelle-scene.shtml
On the concert side of things, I wanted to focus on the words / lyrics / poetry and wanted to find a visual treatment for the stage with lots of texture. I chose the theme: tailors of lyrics. To make the theme obvious, I wanted to literally have thread decorating the stage ... so I used almost 10,000 feet of cotton string to do it!
The whole thing cost me less than $200 in materials, but more than 20 hours of creation and installation! I have to give a HUGE shout-out to Daniel Petit - the lighting designer who believed in the concept and gave generously of his time and energy to help me achieve what I imagined in my head. The result was even more beautiful in real life.
Also thank you to Aurélie Labriere, the coordinator of the Franco-Saskatchewan Cultural Council and Audrey, her trainee whose help with the instillation was indispensable.
While the week exhausted me, I’m coming away so enriched. I feel like I learned even more than the participants: I was reminded that by communicating our love / appreciation / encouragement, we build confidence; I learned the importance of leaving room for people to grow; and, when done with love, I can push the participants (and push myself) even further than I thought. All to stimulate a more fulfilling and meaningful growth.
And we all accompanied each other through these many learning experiences. This is the pearl at the centre of it all!