By Eric Bourque
Not that there was any doubt the trip would be memorable, but Yvette d’Entremont – writer-director of La voix de la mer – says she and her cast members got the red carpet treatment in France, calling it “an unforgettable experience … a dream come true.”
The group travelled overseas this month to take part in La semaine acadienne, an annual festival in Saint-Aubin-sur-mer, in Normandy. As part of an activity-filled week there, the Yarmouth County group did two performances of La voix de la mer, d’Entremont’s musical about a community and its relationship with the sea.
First staged in 2013 at the Par-en-Bas theatre in Tusket, the show was very well received then and – more than a year later – it was a hit in France too, each performance seen by an appreciative full house.
The performers received standing ovations, d’Entremont said, and the emotional impact of the show’s second act was evident on the faces of the people watching.
The Par-en-Bas contingent made the trip overseas after receiving an invitation last year to bring La voix de la mer to France. (Other acts from the Atlantic region were invited to perform as well.)
Reflecting on the trip a couple of days after returning home, d’Entremont said there was one comment in particular about La voix de la mer, from the festival’s head organizer, that meant a lot to her.
“He said our show was fresh and just what the festival needed, and that the story and music we brought to France told the story of the present-day l’Acadie, not the Deportation of 1755 or the fictional story of Évangeline, but one that is meaningful to the youth of today,” d’Entremont said.
Performing at the French festival opened some new doors for La voix de la mer, she said, citing “future possibilities for the show.”
But for the Yarmouth County group, there was more to the French trip than presenting La voix de la mer. There were other performances too. The week featured activities marking this year as the 70th anniversary of D-Day, including what d’Entremont described as “incredibly moving celebrations/commemorations.”
One was at Bény-sur-mer, site of an immaculately kept Canadian war cemetery, and another was at the Juno Beach Centre.
All in all, d’Entremont said, it was a busy and remarkable week, whether it was the warmth of the people they met, the beautiful scenery they got to see, the great food they got to eat or any number of other highlights.
Summing it up with one word, she said, “amazing.”