Brisbane’s first French play – UQ’s School of Languages article
More great news for our guest director, Emily Miller, awarded the Mabel Pingel scholarship from The School of Languages and Comparative Cultural Studies (UQ), in her latest interview, she takes the occasion to talk us through Growl Theatre’s up and coming show Trois versions de la vie.
Emily Miller completed her Bachelor of Arts with an Extended Major in French, and Minor in Anthropology last year. She is now completing Honours in French. Emily is currently directing Brisbane’s first ever French play and shares her experience with us.
Tell us a bit about the play you are working on.
I am currently directing Brisbane’s first ever French play. It is entirely in French, complete with a full French cast and topped off with English surtitles. The piece, entitled Trois versions de la vie (Life X 3) was written by well-known French playwright Yasmina Reza. This project is the fruit of my involvement with Brisbane’s North-side community theatre group Growl Theatre Company.
How did you get involved?
The artistic director was impressed with my involvement in one of their previous productions and invited me to put something together for the 2015 season. I wanted to do something that no one had done before; I wanted to be tested and to be put completely out of my comfort zone. I was unhappy with the lack of foreign theatre in Brisbane and was convinced that I could use my passions of theatre and French to create something really spectacular. There was no time like the present, so I started the ball rolling and here we are today – the actors are ready and the stage is set!
What has been your involvement so far?
From the beginning, I threw myself at the task; my involvement in the project has included contacting Yasmina Reza’s agent in France to gain the rights to the play, pitching the project to the French Foreign Union to gain their support, which included addressing Honorary Consul Lady Jane Edwards and her husband Sir Llew Edwards, in French! Giving a radio interview with 4EB to promote the play, finding a French speaking assistant and stage manager, announcing and conducting the auditions, having the ruthless task of choosing the actors, organising rehearsals; rain, hail or shine! Contacting the French societies of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast to spread the word and distribute flyers at the Brisbane French Festival.
We hope to attract the large community of French expatriates living in Brisbane to come and see the play. Plus, as the piece has English surtitles, we hope to target learners of the French language and those who are deaf or hard of hearing. I hope that this project is one of many more to come. I am so appreciative of the faith that the cast and crew have instilled in me. I am so grateful to have been offered the opportunity that has allowed such a wonderful project to be brought to life.
How has French at UQ helped you with your current project?
The French department at UQ is sensational. Without my current understanding of the French language, this project would have never existed. The French department is an immeasurable web of knowledge and expertise. I have felt so supported for the duration of the project through a vast network of past and present lecturers. I have met and continue to meet amazing lecturers who inspire and nurture my scholarship and encourage me to pursue my dreams and be a life-long learner.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future include continuing to make foreign language plays available to the Brisbane community. I hope that the success of this project will open doors that will lead on to producing French works annually. It is an aspiration of mine to continue to work within the arts, whether that be directing and acting, or using my research skills to examine and discuss new plays and the way they affect the audience. It would be idealistic to open a French theatre company as Sydney and Melbourne have done. Brisbane is producing more and more amazing music and art and I hope to continually contribute to that body of work.