Tintamarre, Mt. A’s bilingual theatre troupe, is bringing a twist on a French classic to the Motyer-Fancy Theatre stage. This year, they are deviating from their usual trend of completely devised theatre to presenting a play from 1888 in their beautifully unusual Tintamarre style. UBU ‘24 is this year’s performance, an adaptation and restaging of Ubu Roi or Ubu the King.
Originally staged as a counter-culture parody of greed and the lust for power, Ubu Roi—written by Alfred Jarry—depicts a “comic scoundrel” who assassinates the king of Poland, and then storms through Ukraine until he stumbles in Russia. Initially deemed a disaster, the play has since become lauded as a masterpiece of comedy and social commentary. The play was heavily inspired from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hamlet, and King Lear. What we see in UBU ‘24 is the troupe’s vision of performing such a politically-charged piece with a 2024 mindset, which has proven to be a welcome challenge to the cast and creative team. I was lucky to gain some insight into this process when I attended Tintamarre’s rehearsal on January 14. There, I was able to view some scenes, meet their team, and speak with some of the actors and the associate director. I quickly learned that these talented individuals are passionate about French theatre and are excited at the opportunity to present UBU ‘24 to the community.
Each of the actors in UBU ‘24 portray multiple roles in this “play within a play.” They have their characters in the original story of Ubu Roi, and the roles of the actors who are tasked with putting on this performance. Second-year psychology student Kyah Lockhart explained how these different roles were challenging in her process as an actor. “My original role is Nat, who likes having things in order and wants a director really bad. My other roles are the Queen of Poland and Czar Alexis. The most challenging part would be the switch. The only thing that distinguishes Nat from the Czar is a hat.” For others, the bilingual nature of the play has also provided a learning experience. Jacob Graham, a fourth-year history major, plays Cha. “This is an adaptation of a play that was written by a native French speaker from France. And my second language is French and I’m from Canada, so it is a bit hard to remember it all but it is a welcome challenge.” The sheer amount of characters in the play presented a challenge to Ella Crowley, a second-year English major who plays Vik. “Trying to find Vik amidst the other cast of characters and also with the different roles Vik has throughout the play. I really had to look at the script at what Vik was saying and find the character that was beneath the fun absurdity of UBU itself.”
Tintamarre, as it has always been known, is a group of students who come from diverse theatrical backgrounds. Even more remarkable is their commitment to student opportunities in theatre creation and directing. Rafael Freire, a third-year computer science student, is serving as this year’s associate director. He added: “The scripts are spicy and I think our performances will destroy language barriers.”
Spending an evening taking in this piece of bilingual local drama is sure to impress even the most casual theatergoer. It will leave you questioning the political systems of the past and present and with the humour and hope that only a Tintamarre satire can provide. UBU ‘24 runs at the Motyer-Fancy Theatre from January 31 until February 3. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.