Forests

by Wajdi Mouawad
translated by Linda Gaboriau
directed by Richard Rose

English-Language Premiere

When Aimée learns that she has an unusual brain tumour, she decides to risk her life to have her child, only to die when her daughter Loup is a teenager. Enraged and grief-stricken, Loup reluctantly begins a quest to discover the origin of her mother’s mysterious illness. In a story that spans six generations and two continents, Wajdi Mouawad demonstrates that the bonds of family are not merely biological and cannot be contained: they are borne of love, sacrifice and deep commitment, and endure beyond the death of any single member.

a play in two acts. There will be one 15 minute intermission.

Patrons are advised that this production includes smoking on stage, violence and nudity.


Notes

  • Design Talks — Tuesday, April, 19 at 7pm,
    with set and costume designer Karyn McCallum.
  • Free Lecture Series — Saturday, April 30, at 1pm,
    with Yana Meerzon, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Ottawa.

Play Guide

You have appeared in my life like a thunderbolt in the middle of a blue sky.

It is November 16, 1989 - one week after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Aimée and her husband Baptiste have invited their nearest and dearest to their home to announce that Aimée is pregnant; she is expecting a little girl. The guests are overjoyed, but their celebration is cut short by Aimée's sudden seizure. Little do they know, it is the first of many, and it is accompanied by an obscure prophecy:

There is only one father and there are three sons;
Each has as many daughters, with the caesura in the middle
The last, born at noon, died at midnight.
The Oblique Oracle
Of the god who strikes from afar.

Nobody quite knows what to make of it. All they know - several trips to the hospital later - is that a mysterious illness has struck Aimée. With it comes many more seizures, visions and prophecies, including the one that gives Aimée's new daughter her name: Loup.

Suddenly we are plunged straight into one of Aimée's visions. We land in the Ardennes Forest. It is 1917, and a battle rages in the distance. Lucien Blondel, the soldier who haunts Aimée's visions, appears at the feet of three sisters who live in the forest. The sisters are trapped by a family secret, one they are loathe to share with the new arrival, but the youngest, Léonie, believes that Lucien is the answer to their prayers and the key to their freedom:

He is our only chance. Are you ashamed to tell him? I'm ashamed, too, to reveal the truth to a stranger. But because he is a stranger, he won't shudder. He'll know how.

Something connects Aimée and Loup to what happened deep in that forest - a lineage of some kind. It is up to Loup to discover what it is and what it means.

Now sixteen years old, Loup is every bit as difficult as you would expect a teen-aged girl to be. The weight of her mother's affliction has been too much for her to bear, so when she's approached by a French paleontologist who believes Aimée's illness explains a riddle that has consumed his own life, Loup's not particularly interested in helping him out. Ever since she was a child, any mention of the past triggered one of her mother's epileptic fits, complete with World War I and some guy named Lucien. The idea of returning to that past terrifies her. When the paleontologist reveals his own quest, however, Loup is hooked. He is determined to reconstruct the face of a mysterious skull believing it will elucidate the enigma that shackles our existence. Yours and mine.

LOUP: What do you want to do?
DOUGLAS: Meet your grandmother, Luce.
LOUP: Why?
DOUGLAS: To observe her face. In her face, we will find your face and your mother's face and if this woman is part of your past, then in your face, in your mother's and in Luce's, we will be able to decipher hers and solve part of the enigma.

Loup agrees and takes the first steps towards the answers she needs. Soon she realizes it's not enough: in what amounts to a detective story of genealogy, her quest takes her back in time, from 2006 to 1872, and across two continents to the Ardennes Forest and the surrounding countryside. Here, she discovers the origin of her mother's illness, the meaning of her visions, and finally, release from the dark family secrets that have followed her her whole life.

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In the Mainspace

April 19–May 29
Opens Wednesday, April 27, 2011

supported by: Richard Rooney
& Laura Dinner

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