Skip to content

Women & Girls: Breasts, ‘the rag’ and new theatre works

Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario presents readings of three feminist plays under development by Northern Ontario artists
Sudbury playwrights France Huot, Mariana Lafrance and Caroline Raynaud explore breasts, menstruation, burnout and the relationship between human wellness and the natural world in Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO)’s "Le cabaret de la Cellule d'écritures", a theatre laboratory, presenting excerpts of these shows by Northern Ontario playwrights, which are under development.

Breasts, menstruation, burnout and the relationship between human wellness and the natural world are some of the topics addressed in three feminist plays in progress which will be presented to their first audience in Sudbury Feb. 2 and 3.

Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO)’s Le cabaret de la Cellule d'écritures will act as a theatre laboratory, presenting excerpts of these shows by Northern Ontario playwrights, which are under development. (Please note the presentations are in French only).

France Huot, Mariana Lafrance and Caroline Raynaud have been taking part in a residency for new work development at TNO for the past year.

“I think we're seeing more and more creators or writers talk about feminist perspectives on stage,” said Huot.

“I think it’s important, especially in Franco-Ontarian culture, which is really behind. … I talk about menstruation, because we don’t talk enough about menstruation. Caroline talks about her relationship to her body, about women, the rapport we have with our breasts.

“We don't talk about these things enough. So I think this is sort of happening. Like there's a general tendency, I think, right now, and I think it makes sense for the company to sort of do that. It's time that we start having these conversations with our society.”

Huot, a local theatre performer who previously worked for TNO, is developing a show called “Ragtime Gal” (the “ragtime,” by the way, is a reference to the phrase to be “on the rag,” a.k.a. menstruating).

“Ragtime Gal” is a comic-clown theatrical writing project that highlights the tensions between burnout and menstruation through a duo: Gisèle, a burnout manager, and Janine, her menstrual clot that never leaves her.

The piece is about a woman who goes through a health crisis involving her uterus and menstrual pain and “not being listened to in the medical system,” all the while having a dialogue with her menstruation.

Caroline Raynaud, an actress who moved from France to Sudbury six years ago, said she started having the urge to write her own material, and the TNO program is helping her to realize that dream.

Her piece is called “Le téton tardif” (or “the late tit” in English, using the French slang for “breast”). 

It focuses on breasts, because they would make her a woman, Raynaud thought at the age of 11. The desire to have breasts and the lack of them, the models of femininity in newspapers, on TV and in society, crystallize this belief. Then the story unfolds, asking the question "What makes a woman?" 

“I was convinced that to be a woman, I needed breasts, and they were not coming at all,” said Raynaud. “So it became an obsession. And, looking back, I realized there were funny moments, curious moments, uncomfortable moments due to that obsession.

“The quest for my breasts was big. So it's like a deep dive into intimacy because it actually influences your sexuality and really stuff that we absolutely don't talk about.”

Mariana Lafrance is presenting a piece called “La quête du sombre.” She is an interdisciplinary artist who has worked mainly in visual arts to date, but loved writing as a teen, and in recent years, has wanted to return to that passion.

It was inspired by a time as a young adult when her dream job at a natural history museum led to burnout, and she retreated to a cabin in the woods to get herself back.

The death of a bat at her feet during that time kicks off the “beginnings of an allegorical tale of thirst for a shared, lighter mourning… a mourning for the erosion of human sensuality and sensitivity in connection with the natural world.”

She said her piece is about “human wellness, the wellness of humans when we are accompanied and held by the natural world and all the richness that can be found there, both in the light and in the darkness.”

If you'd like to take in the play readings, they take place Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Place des Arts. Purchase tickets online here.

Heidi Ulrichsen is’s assistant editor. She also covers education and the arts scene. Women & Girls is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.