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The Tale of Teeka (L’Histoire de l’oie), written by Québec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard and performed in English by Les Deux Mondes Oct. 13th in Stewart Theatre as part of the critically acclaimed N.C. State University Center Stage series, is more -- much more -- than just the saga of a lonely farm boy named Maurice and his adorable pet goose named Teeka. It is a rib-tickling and, ultimately, heart-rending coming-of-age story.
Young Maurice (Yves Dagenais), who is obsessed with the Tarzan books of Edgar Rice Burroughs, desperately yearns to escape from his nightmarish childhood with abusive parents on an isolated farm with only Teeka for a playmate. The goose is precocious, but not precocious enough to know the Cat’s admonition to the plucky piglet title character of the movie Babe to look around the barnyard:
“[T]he cows are here to be milked; the dogs are here to help the Boss's husband with the sheep; and I'm here to be beautiful, and affectionate to the Boss.... Ah, the fact is, pigs don't have a purpose. Just like ducks don't have a purpose.... Why do the Bosses keep ducks? To eat them. So why do the Bosses keep a pig? The fact is that animals that don't seem to have a purpose really do have a purpose. The Bosses have to eat.”
From the outset of their unlikely friendship, Maurice knows that Teeka will be dinner some Sunday and the goose’s downiest feathers will provide stuffing for a pillow or two. But poor Teeka has no cat to warn her.
Norman Daoust, who plays the adult Maurice, serves as the show’s narrator and manipulates the hand puppet of Teeka and a wheeled version of the goose; and puppet maker and manipulator Patricia Leeper literally breathes the breath of life into the more elaborate and more lifelike versions of Teeka.
With his thick French-Canadian accent, Daoust is sometimes difficult to understand; but director Daniel Meilleur orchestrates the action so that the essential meaning of each scene is always clear, even if some of the words of Linda Gaboriau’s English translation of The Tale of Teeka are garbled. Moreover, Daoust, Dagenais, and Leeper all give compelling, richly detailed characterizations of these storybook characters in what is definitely not a story for small children.
The ingenious set and costume design by Daniel Castonguay, the atmospheric lighting design by David d’Anjou, the makeup by Yvan Gaudin, and the dynamic original music and soundscape by Michel Robidoux also help The Tale of Teeka take flight. This unusual and unforgettable theatrical event, which is the latest in a series of remarkable, one-of-a-kind, and altogether wonderful entertainments brought to Raleigh by NCSU Center Stage, was no doubt Topic A at many Triangle breakfast tables this morning.
N.C. State University Center Stage: http://www.ncsu.edu/centerstage/. Les Deux Mondes: http://www.lesdeuxmondes.com/ [inactive 9/09] (in French). Playwright Michel Marc Bouchard: http://www.michelmarcbouchard.com/ (in French).
The Tale of Teeka (Les Deux Mondes at N.C. State University Center Stage, 8 p.m. Oct. 13 in Stewart Theatre on the second floor of NCSU's Talley Student Center at 2610 Cates Ave.) is a charming piece of theater written by Québec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard, directed by Daniel Meilleur, and performed in English, with original music and soundscape by Michel Robidoux. Bouchard is the author of Lilies, which Raleigh Ensemble Players produced during its 2003 season. On its web site, NCSU Center Stage writes, "The Tale of Teeka [L'Histoire de l'oie] is a beautiful and powerful story of friendship between a boy and a goose, recalled by the man who once was the boy. This richly textured and visually stunning production traces the emotional journey of a child who is the victim of abuse, and his relationship with the being he loves most, Teeka the goose. An exceptional piece of theater, this story of survival has been performed around the globe by Les Deux Mondes, one of Canada's most celebrated theater companies. The New York Times calls Teeka 'haunting, touching and at times comical ... a poignant, unforgettable journey.'" Note: There will be a preshow discussion — hosted by University Theatre at N.C. State associate director and acting coach Fred Gorelick — at 6:45 p.m. in Room 110 of the Price Music Center, next door at 2620 Cates Ave. For more information about Michel Marc Bouchard, visit http://www.michelmarcbouchard.com/ (in French). For more information about Les Deux Mondes, visit http://www.lesdeuxmondes.com/ (in French). For more information about NCSU Center Stage, visit http://www.ncsu.edu/centerstage/. For tickets, telephone 919/515-1100.