Donald D’Haene and Dave Semple first spoke about putting on Michel Tremblay’s Hosanna when they met over 20 years ago. Hosanna is a Canadian classic that deals with themes of gender, sexuality, aging and identity, through a relationship between a drag queen named Hosanna and a homosexual biker named Cuirette. While D’Haene admits he wasn’t quite ready for the venture at the time, the interest certainly stuck. Semple contacted D’Haene this past Spring with the same, now 20-year-old proposal. This time, D’Haene couldn’t turn it down.
“…I couldn’t say no to the challenge of a lifetime,” D’Haene says. “We’re probably the oldest actors to have ever played the roles, but we are playing an aging drag queen and an aging biker, so in terms of age, the shoe fits now. But more importantly, we have gained a hell of a lot of experience in the ensuing years, earning the lines on our faces, and can bring some weight to the lives we are portraying.”
D’Haene and Semple have come together to create their new company Double D Productions. Hosanna is their company’s first theatrical experiment.
“We want to do challenging pieces of theatre with honest performances,” says Semple. “We are going to find projects that appeal to us for the right reasons….For me, this is a play about a relationship in crisis. I don’t really care that the characters are gay. I believe that the only way to bring true equality is to get rid of the labels. Marriage is marriage. Relationships are relationships…”
Double D Productions is presenting the show as a collaboration with London Community Players and D’Haene and Semple are directing the show, along with Co-Director and Stage Manager Anne Mooney.
“This play is one of the first masterpieces of modern French-Canadian theatre,” says Mooney. “It’s an early work by Michel Tremblay and deserves to be revisited after its last production in London over 25 years ago.”
Semple explains that having three directors on board has only helped their creative process. “This is what theatre should really be about! Collaboration….A director sees things from outside the fishbowl that the actors can’t see. With two directors (Donald and I) on the inside, seeing things from different perspectives, and one director (Anne) on the outside, everything should make sense to the audience.”
“…One of the most amazing aspects of the process was the discovery of a virtual form of direction, where we verbally and visually drew out the show before blocking the scene out physically,” D’Haene adds. Together, the trio used this unique form of directing to help bring the piece to life.
D’Haene says he hopes audiences will view Hosanna as a slice of history that gives visual representation to an often invisible, yet important part of our community. “Educating through art is often the best way to increase awareness,” says D’Haene. “…Londoners are ready for a show as raw, tragic and outrageously funny as this Canadian classic.”
Hosanna plays at Procunier Hall (beside the Palace Theatre, 710 Dundas St. East, London, Ontario) from Nov. 6 – Nov. 15. For tickets, visithttp://mytickets.palacetheatre.ca/Default.asp?SearchMonth=&monthsubmit=&SearchText=&MV=&sel=&pg=4&anchor=upc