2021-2022,  blog

Bringing Bâtardes to the stage

Part of a printed zine, created by Robyn Grant-Moran for the #BeyondTO festival — In reflection of Bâtardes, a Théâtre Everest Production presented by Theatre Passe Muraille

Robyn has dark black hair and fair complexion. She has hazel green eyes and wearing a bright red lipstick, with a black dress smiling

Robyn Grant-Moran (Métis) is a Toronto based writer, artist, and podcaster. While studying classical singing at York University, Robyn became fascinated with Indigenous representation in opera which lead to studying theatre criticism. 

After graduating with her Bachelor of Fine Arts, Robyn began writing for theatre publications focused on elevating voices of those historically underrepresented and in 2019, Robyn won the Nathan Cohen for Excellence in Critical Writing Outstanding Emerging Critic Award from the Canadian Theatre Critics Association.

Since then, her writing has been published in Intermission Magazine, The Dance Current, The Toronto Star, as well as the Globe and Mail. Robyn cohosts the Canadian Opera Company’s podcast Key Change, as well as being a member of their Circle of Artists, working for greater diversity and inclusion of Indigenous voices in opera. When not writing, Robyn is often making beaded jewelry as the Salty Magpie, learning how to ride her beloved motorcycle, and still waiting out the pandemic with her wee rat dog in their box in the sky. 

“L’effet irréversible de l’ignorance ou le jour où j’ai réalisé que j’étais asiatique” or The irreversible effect of ignorance or the day I realized I was seen as not belonging: a brief oral history of bringing Bâtardes to the stage.

This story is the story of firsts. 

Chloe and Jade in this archival are around 4 years old, wrapped in quilted clothing with traditional prints

Still from archival footage, courtesy of Jade and Chloé Barshee

The first time Jade experienced being seen as Asian and not Quebecois, her first time writing, directing, producing, co-creating with her sister Chloé, and the first time building a roadmap of sorts for future creations. 

When she was in grade school, one of her classmates asked Jade where she was from. A young, confused Jade responded with “here?”.

That was the day that she realized, through the ignorance of her peer, that she was Asian. 

That small but consequential anecdote about her experience of being an outsider in the city she was born and raised would become the foundation for a monologue that Jade would write in 2014 for a student cabaret while in theatre school. The supportive feedback she received from her peers about sharing her experience sparked a desire within herself to further critically explore the intersections, between being a young, racialized woman (part of the Tibetan diaspora in the predominantly French settler province of Quebec).

In 2016, after graduating, Jade brought her monologue to her sister Chloé, thinking they might be able to grow her wee but vital bit of text into a large scale, dramatic production. Of course Chloé was on board and they got to work. The creative process that Jade and Chloé have developed is akin to “assembling a puzzle”, Jade explained to me. Rather than beginning with an idea with a linear story, they used home videos, images from a trip to Tibet, meaningful music — fragments that would grow larger pieces until eventually they started fitting together into a narrative.

Jade screams as a monster in a yak silhouette waves behind her

Jade describes the importance of co-creating with Chloé and the team of creatives who helped bring all the puzzle pieces together into the raw and powerful mix of theatre, dance and digital projection that is Bâtardes. Jonathan Saucier, a costume designer, helped create the monster who follows the sisters throughout their journey. 

They wanted a non human manifestation of being racialized and the obstacles that can pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and the end result is an unforgettable friend and foe. Patrick Lacharité helped with the direction and mise-en-scène, further refining the puzzle pieces for best fit. Everyone’s experiences are on this story. 

“When it’s the first time, sometimes it’s hard to trust the process.” Jade says about taking that germ of an idea to a fully realized production. ”You want to control everything but then you realize there are some things that you just don’t decide, they just happen and [so does] the story that you want to tell.” 

A Théâtre Everest Production presented by Theatre Passe Muraille

Born to a Tibetan father and a Québecoise mother, Chloé and Jade Barshee are in search of their own identity. A touching auto-fiction combining anecdotes, poetic monologues and video archives, Bâtardes immerses you into a theatrical world where the sisters’ reality and imaginations merge. Performed in French with English captions. 

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This is part 4/4 of the whole zine!