Written by Mansel Robinson
Translated by Jean-Marc Dalpé
Directed by André Perrier
Starring Frederik Blanchette
Musician Marcel Aymar
Thu, Dec 11 – Sat, Dec 13
Cité Francophone, $15 / $23
The connection of Trains Fantômes (Ghost Trains) to the Canadian experience of working on the railroads gave it a natural inclination to be translated from English to French.
“The railway in the past has had a huge role in Canada,” l’UniThéâtre Artistic Director Daniel Cournoyer says.
Set in the largely bilingual region of northern Ontario, Trains Fantômes documents a railroad worker and railroad worker’s son, Danny Gagnon, paying homage to his dying father through song and poetry.
“It deals with the challenges of relationships with our kids, whether taking it from the perspective of the child or from the parent,” Cournoyer says. “In this case, it’s the son, Danny Gagnon relating his feelings and thoughts about his father and all the stories that it conjures.
“Very often we don’t see the emotional journey of the male,” Cournoyer adds.
Written by Mansel Robinson, the script was then complemented by eight songs composed by local country songwriting legend Stewart MacDougall.
“Robinson created a very poetic piece that makes for a heartfelt and sobering performance. Robinson got in touch with Stewart MacDougall and they put the songs together over the phone,” Cournoyer explains.
Cournoyer had a keen interest in bringing the play to Edmonton audiences after he was involved in a reading of Trains Fantômes five years ago.
“There is a strong connection that works really well between Robinson’s script and Stewart’s songwriting. It’s a nice balance and has a strong resonance in French because a lot of the French pieces being produced have poetic aspects,” Cournoyer says.
The fact that Trains Fantômes originated in Western Canada but applies equally to Eastern Canada is important to Cournoyer.
“Artistically, l’UniThéâtre shares the works from Eastern Canada and Western Canada to create a better cultural understanding,” Cournoyer says. “It’s a great piece of Canadiana.” V