Play ‘PB&J’ Brings ‘The Breakfast Club’ to the Fringe Festival
Concordia Alumna Puts on a Fresh Version of 80s Classic
Although famous for its uncensored and unconventional plays, the Fringe Festival also has its share of creations dedicated to a younger audience.
Look no further than PB&J, Anne-Marie St-Louis’ debut at the Fringe, making the 80s classic accessible for a younger generation.
Specializing in youth dramaturgy, the theatre company Créactifs’ new show is inspired by The Breakfast Club, depicting the distressing time of four high school students, stuck in detention, having to confront their differences.
The play started with an introduction by a young teacher, the self-proclaimed “king of detention,” played by Lucas Gizard. He went on about how he aims to terrorize bullies, in order to maintain order at school.
Personifying a typical despotic teacher, the actor isn’t the most convincing in the beginning. It also gets confusing because he presents the play as a story on bullying, even though it mostly becomes centered on the altercations between the students themselves, stuck in detention together.
When the four of them arrive, however, the play becomes much more dynamic and credible. Considering that Créactifs only chose volunteer actors and don’t do auditions, they ended up with a surprisingly talented and polyvalent bunch of actors.
“It was very interesting for Éléonore, [Éléonore B., the writer], and I to work with the actors in mind,” said St-Louis.
“We really tried to combine the actors’ personalities and the issues that their characters face in the play, both in the text and the mise en scène,” she added.
In only 50 minutes, PB&J combined tense dialogues and sincere moments of introspection, but also slam poetry and dance. It seemed like the perfect recipe to touch their target audience.
Representative of a Fringe play, the decor looked crafty, almost improvised. Exam papers were glued together and spread across the floor and on the furniture, making an all-white room for the actors to play in.
“It’s very accessible and touches issues that directly affect [students], from bullying to learning how to fit in a school environment which can be intimidating.” —Anne-Marie St-Louis
In the back of the stage, a washroom area was designated as an intimate and sacred place for the characters to whisper to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, and becoming emotional through heartfelt monologues.
The beauty of Montreal Fringe Festival certainly is the diversity of languages, practices, and themes. The festival that ran between May 27 and June 16 allows both francophone and anglophone artists to take the city’s stages.
“I’m really happy we get to present our show at Fringe,” said St-Louis. “I’ve always loved the festival and it’s great to have an event that combines both anglophone and francophone scenes.”
PB&J truly fits in the festival’s programming, as it is completely bilingual, with the characters naturally switching between the two languages, even poking fun at each other’s cultural differences.
After their Fringe week is over, St-Louis said she hopes for her play to be presented in high-schools across the province.
“I think it can make a difference and impact our audience,” she said, “because it’s very accessible and touches issues that directly affect [students], from bullying to learning how to fit in a school environment which can be intimidating.”
St-Louis studied theatre and development at Concordia, a unique degree which allowed her to study theatre in relation to social issues and how it can be adapted to specific contexts such as schools or hospitals.
She believes her years at Concordia “helped [her] perfect [her] own style and create plays such as PB&J […] that would have an even bigger impact if they were shown in schools.”
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