Sean Guist, MFA Candidate at the U of L, tells us about his experience as both an undergraduate and graduate student. He is directing the mainstage play The Madonna Painter or the Birth of a Painting by Michel Marc Bouchard, which ran from Mar. 20 - 24, 2012.
"The play takes place in 1918 in rural Quebec, and I did a lot of historical research, which included a trip to Quebec, to understand the period and its religious influences," Guist says. "The play is loosely based on events that happened in Bouchard's home town when he was young, and he wrote the play many years later while living in Florence, Italy. When he returned to Canada, after the play received critical acclaim abroad, he rewrote and translated the play a couple of times. The translation by Linda Gaboriau is the version we are using."
The story begins as World War I is ending and the Spanish flu is taking hold. A young priest, having recently arrived in the small parish, commissions a wandering Italian painter to create a fresco dedicated to the Virgin Mary to ward off the oncoming plague. As he chooses his model between four local virgins – all named Mary – the Madonna painter changes the fate of the entire community.
"Our cast is small, only seven characters," Guist explains. "Every character in the play has their own journey and their own beauty to discover. In turn, each actor has to go on that journey too; to discover their own beauty."
"The audience will experience great contemporary Canadian theatre that comes to life on a stunning set designed by faculty member and alumnus Roger Schultz (BFA '89), with costumes designed by Leslie Robison-Greene. Bouchard said he wanted the audience to leave with one element from the play: an image, a character, a line or a moment. I know this play both provokes and entertains – it's very beautiful, like a great work of art," says Guist.