Glendon’s Francophone week brims with cultural experiences

International Francophone Day is celebrated on March 20. It is a day when Canadians honour the unique role French language and culture play in their country by holding cultural and community events.

At York’s Glendon campus, where French language and culture represent one of the campus’s defining characteristics – bilingualism – the ninth annual celebration of the Semaine de la Francophonie (Francophone Week), from March 20 to 25 delivered many special events including theatre, the visual arts, literary readings and social gatherings.

On March 20, Glendon’s celebrations opened with lunchtime theatre. The performances were introduced by Léonard Rosmarin, professor emeritus of French literature at Brock University, and author Liliane Atlan, an authority on dramaturge. Canadian actors Geneviève Trilling and Michèle Tredger performed a series of deeply moving scenes from Atlan’s play, Les Mers rouges (The Red Seas), directed by Genie-award winning director Kalli Paakspuu. Atlan’s work immortalizes the victims of the Holocaust from Salonika, Greece, her family’s ancestral home.

Right: Michèle Tredger and Geneviève Trilling perform scenes from Les Mers rouges

March 20 also marked the gala opening of a new exhibition, Bolerama – the work of Franco-Ontarian artist Lise Beaudry, at the Glendon Gallery. Bolerama consists of a series of large colour photographs accompanied by a bilingual sound installation. The photographs display inside and outside perspectives of the Boler trailer, an egg-shaped, compact camping trailer built in the artist’s hometown of Earlton, Ontario until the late 1970s. (See March 17, 2006 issue of YFile for the full story.)

Left: Associate principal Louise Lewin (left) with Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts and director of artistic and cultural affairs Martine Rheault at the Bolerama reception

A capacity audience attended the opening of the Bolerama exhibit. They were welcomed to Glendon’s new gallery space with a festive buffet lunch and reception, complete with Romanian wines given by the Romanian consul general in Toronto, Nicanor Teculescu, who was also present at the opening. Teculescu conveyed his government’s formal invitation to the Summit of the Francophonie taking place this summer in Bucharest

Francophone Week also welcomed Terre rouge (Red Earth), a play by the early 20th-century French playwright Antonin Artaud. Under the direction of Glendon drama professor Guillaume Bernardi, this Glendon student production presented Artaud’s short play recording his 1936 journey to the north of Mexico, where the indigenous Tarahumaras introduced him to the shamanic rites of the hallucinogenic plant peyote. The cast, composed of both anglophone and francophone students, created an existentialist atmosphere enhanced by video technology showing photos of Mexico from the time of Artaud’s visit.

Right: Glendon Professor Eugene Roventa with Associate Principal Louise Lewin and Nicanor Teculescu, Romanian consul-general in Toronto, at the opening of Bolerama

The week’s programs included several other literary events, including a lecture on March 22 by Doris Jakubec, honorary professor of the University of Lausanne, on the work of Swiss author Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz. Under the sponsorship of the Swiss Consulate-General and GREF, Glendon’s French-language publishing house, the evening also featured readings from Ramuz’s work by writer and theatre personality Jacques Roman.

March 23 offered a Midi-littéraire (Literary Lunch) in the gallery, welcoming two outstanding local writers published by Glendon’s GREF: Pierre Léon and Daniel Soha, who read from their work. 

Left: Martine Rheault, Glendon’s director of artistic and cultural affairs, with artist Lise Beaudry and Gallery curator Marc Audette at the opening of Bolerama

First presented in 1998, Glendon’s Semaine de la Francophonie was the brainchild of Alain Baudot, professor in the French and Multidisciplinary Studies Departments, and director of GREF. Since then, it has been organized annually under the leadership of Martine Rheault, director of artistic and cultural affairs, Office of Student Services.

International Francophone Day commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Niamey (Nigeria) in 1970, which brought into existence the Cultural and Technical Cooperation Agency, now known as the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie. Francophones on five continents celebrate this date with music, literature, drama, food, choosing their own way to express their pride in their culture. Over the years, the celebration has expanded, and Canada’s 2006 Les rendez-vous de la Francophonie spanned 16 days, from March 10 to 26.

This article was submitted to YFile by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny.