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Keene State Theatre Presents French-Canadian Play

KEENE, N.H. 10/24/01 - A French-Canadian play with tragic undertones by playwright Michel Tremblay will be produced by Keene State Theatre Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 13-17. “Marcel Pursued by the Hounds,” directed by Céline Perron, will be presented at 8 p.m. nightly with a 2 p.m. matinée on Saturday, Nov. 17, in the Wright Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond. Tickets are $7 for the general public and $5 for KSC students, senior citizens, and youth 17 and under. For tickets, call the box office at (603) 358-2168.

“Marcel Pursued by the Hounds” follows a traumatic day in the life of a brother and sister, Marcel and Thérèse. The Fates, a chorus of four women who knit baby booties with the thread of life, guide their revealing conversation. Set in 1953 in Montréal, the play reflects the limited choices and difficult life faced by French-Canadians segregated from the more prosperous English- speaking population, explains director Céline Perron, associate professor of theatre at Keene State College, who is French-Canadian.

Thérèse’s mother, out of a Roman Catholic sense of responsibility, forces her pregnant daughter to marry a man Thérèse despises. Thérèse works in a nightclub in the red-light district of Montréal and takes refuge from her loveless marriage in alcohol. Marcel is a young man with epilepsy who witnesses a horrific event that causes him to retreat into his delusions.

“This play is tragic on the same scale as a Greek tragedy,” says Perron. “The Fates, a chorus of maternal voices, represent the spiritual world and provide a bridge from the real world to some place safe. Marcel and Thérèse are enraged by the oppressive situation in which they have lived since childhood. They react, however, in very different ways. Thérèse becomes an enraged drunk smashing up the bar and Marcel slips into an imaginary haven. The play’s theme is one of escape from the profound bleakness of life.”

Michel Tremblay is considered the premier playwright in Canada and is credited with revoluntionizing Québecois theatre. He is the recipient of the 1995 Molson prize for lifetime achievement in the arts. Tremblay also has received numerous international awards and is an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France.

Perron has assembled a talented cast of students and community members that includes Jamie Wenger of Shoreham, N.Y., who plays Marcel, and Sari Gagnon of Plainville, Conn., who portrays Thérèse. Jessica Erin Palmer of Manchester, Vt., plays the character of Florence; Daneé Grillo of Beacon Falls, Conn., plays Rose; Jennifer Simon of Exeter, N.H., plays Mauve; and Erica Wilson from Manchester, Maine, plays Violette.

An all-student design team supports the play. Adam Sterling of Keene designed the set; Justin Moriarty of Providence, R.I., designed lighting; Jaime Blinn of Lee, N.H., designed costumes; and Joel Barnhurst of Keene designed the sound. KSC music faculty member, Dr. Gladys Johnsen, is also lending her expertise as musical director.

The play, which will be performed in English, is an hour and thirty minutes including one intermission. Due to the stage setup, late arrivals cannot be seated until intermission.

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Keene, New Hampshire 03435