Love, life and death, through the eyes of female friendship

Clean Slate shared the significance of support through the complexities of life

Following a close group of six women as they experience one incredibly significant night together, Clean Slate, a play shown at LaChapelle from March 18 to 30, navigated friendship, love, sex, life and death. The Talisman Theatre’s production took the viewer through an emotional journey, witnessing the love and intensity of emotion present in female friendships, and how the women journey through the constant complexities of life.

Clean Slate was written by Catherine Chabot, translated from French to English by Jennie Herbin, and directed by Leslie Baker (a part-time professor in Concordia’s theatre program). Baker incorporated corporeal, visual and aural components within her performances. She chose a physical approach, playing with improvisation and using viewpoints, a technique which focuses on characters’ reactions to one another. This shone through in how the characters interact with one another physically, being seen in several moments of dance, moving in unison with one another.

The six central characters are close friends on stage, and in real life. Played by Gita Miller, Julie Trepanier, Rebecca Gibian, and Concordia alumnis Cleopatra Boudreau, Michelle Langlois-Fequet, and Kathleen Stavert, their characters’ challenged each other, displaying a strong connection and history of their shared pasts.

The relatability of the storyline and the characters’ relationships with one another was contrasted with aspects of surrealism within the production. Other details, such as the set design and lighting, played into this. The design for the stage was minimalist and futuristic; the lighting and use of technical props added to a subtle level of uncertainty as the story progressed and eventually reached its resolution.

As the story progressed through topics of birth, life, sex and death. Serious discussions related to the body, as part of the women’s constant dialogue with each other, included talks of illness and eating disorders, and brought the focus back to the physicality of the self. The concept of the body, it’s autonomy (or lack thereof) appeared as a thematic detail, a central theme throughout the production.

As the women related their lives and experiences, sharing their emotions with one another, the characters attempted to control their respective emotions, and how those emotions affected their lives. They also tried to control one another, fighting over opinions and actions, contemplating how their time together should be spent.

The show, despite having unrealistic elements in certain details, held a relatability in its core, allowing the viewer to see themselves in the positions of the characters, and empathize with their journeys and emotions.

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