Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Butcher's Day

A statue dedicated to Dollard des Ormeaux, Montreal
Imagine travelling to Chile and discovering that a national holiday is being dedicated to Augusto Pinochet; or to Peru, and Francisco Pizarro is a national hero. Imagine Argentina celebrating dictator Jorge Videla, or Italy Mussolini, or Great Britain Jack the Ripper, or America Charles Manson.

It happens in Canada. Let me rephrase it: it happens in Quebec.
Today, May 20th, is Victoria Day, a day to celebrate Queen Victoria, in all the Commonwealth states.
Except Quebec. Quebec calls it Patriots' Day. It's legitimate, one might say: they celebrate the patriots that, once upon a time, fought against the British Empire.
What few people know outside of Quebec is that until 2003, this same day was dedicated to a man, a colonist and soldier, known by the name of Dollard des Ormeaux.
Dollard des Ormeaux, according to some recent theories and more reliable historical studies, led ambushes and expeditions with the intentions of massacring Iroquis in order to steal their furs and take possession of their territories.

His death, or at least one of the recounts of his death (and the only one I will offer due to its entertaining flavour), occurred during the Battle of Long Sault. Kept under siege in their fort by a large group of pissed Iroquois, Dollard and most of his men were killed by a keg of gunpowder thrown by one of them towards the Iroquois lines. The grenade never made it over the fort walls and bounced back to Dollard, exploding right where it came from: an inglorious end that tastes of Looney Tunes and Wile E. Coyote!

Dollard des Ormeaux is nowadays a small town on the Island of Montreal. A statue dedicated to this French martyr and his bloody missions was erected and stands high and proud in LaFontaine Park, one of the most important parks in Montreal. Dollard des Ormeaux, although Dollard Day has been removed, is still remembered as a hero, martyr, benefactor and figure of selfless honour.

I'd rather call him a butcher and erect a statue in honour of the First Nations and all those native American populations who fell victims to the greed, violence and morbid thirst for blood of the European colonists.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Actress Aurore Fagnen

This week features an interview to French actress Aurore Fagnen, actress and acting student at The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute.

Aurore Fagnen has made a long way from a small village in the south of France to here in NYC.
After completing a Master Degree in Fashion & Luxury at SKEMA Business School in Sophia Antipolis France, she decided to pursue her dream of acting in NYC. And the dream is coming true! Right upon graduating from the Lee Strasberg Institute, she was cast for a supporting role in "I Was There", an independent feature film. She followed on short films, music videos, funny commercials like "Threadmatchers" and "The Story of Lola", and signed with a production company called SWB Films. 
Aurore wrapped a short film to be submitted to a Film Festival this coming June at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas in Manhattan, New York, and did the V.O in French for an international commercial called "I Love Kayak" for KAYAK.COM.

1) Are you a different actress and person after studying Method acting?
Yes. Method acting leads to an endless exploration of yourself to bring life to another human being. I had to learn to fully accept myself, which I'm still doing today. It also taught me how you need to trust your guts and listen. That, especially, is one of the most important things I learned in acting: to really listen. The Method taught me that it's not about being right, but truthful.
In the end, I developed my own personal method based on what works for me. It certainly changed the way I see life and how I appreciate the little things of everyday.

2) What makes you want to act? I want to act because, surprisingly, this is when I feel more honest with myself. I feel fully alive and I know I can dig deeper into life through acting. I love the fact that it is an endless discovery where I play like a little girl and realize how complex and fascinating human beings are! Thanks to acting I have a no-routine life where I'm constantly trying to figure things out.
Acting is for me a means to both fully express myself through the characters and to express the characters through myself.
I love acting for what it gives to people and for how universal it is. Anybody can identify with the story you tell.

3) What is the most challenging task you have undertaken in terms of acting technique (laughing on cue, crying on cue, expressing anger, joy...)? Anger… I mean real anger.  

4) Why? It's a complex and personal feeling that I never really got to explore in my characters. But I'd be thrilled to do it and see what comes out!

4) Do you "feel" when you're acting?  
I do, I have feelings, I feel the other actor, I feel alive… Actually I don't like the idea to think I "feel" something because it makes me think about what I feel or what I'm supposed to feel at this very moment; that's when I'm already out of it. I like to say I "live" rather than "feel" when I'm acting.

6) Should a character fit your personality for you to pick a role, or should she be the opposite of who you are?
That's not really what I think about when I pick a role. I usually let my instinct guide me. It tells me right away when I'm connected with a specific character for whatever reason, so I just have to follow the impulse that makes me want to understand her. Like when you meet someone and you immediately feel intrigued and you want to learn more about this person. I do the same with my characters. So, if I'm interested in a particular character, it doesn't matter at the end if we are alike or not.

7) Should an actor read and study a lot?  I think it's essential for an actor to be constantly curious about anything, not just acting. An actor needs to expand and put in question his knowledge and accept to be ignorant or wrong. It's actually good to be wrong. Being wrong means you're evolving. Actors should study and, more importantly, put into practice what they are learning and figure out what's working for them.

8) What's the difference between an actor and someone who's not?
In my case, I'd say that as an actor I study life. As a non actor I live my life.