This Sunday, the ZinZanni Institute for Circus Arts (ZICA) hosts its Third Annual Gala under the tent. Yes, it’s true, Teatro ZinZanni is a non-profit arts organization dedicated to the preservation of circus arts, including circus summer camps and camp scholarships for kids. Aside from the phantasmagorical performances by the the Bonsoir Liliane! cast, feats of derring-do from the circus stars of tomorrow (and ZICA Camp alumni), vocal stylings by Francine Reed, and a delightful live and silent auctions; France Chevrette will be delighting gala goers with her outlandish antics in our luxurious lobby.
We sat down with France as she applied costume makeup, shared stories from her career, and cracked jokes (not a simple feat). France is one hilarious lady with an unbelievably amazing life and even more outlandish tales that accompany it. Right off the bat she proclaimed her love for Teatro ZinZanni (the feeling is most definitely mutual). She actually received the idea/encouragement to become a ventriloquist from our Artistic Director and all-around ZinZanni guru, Norm Langill. In 2000, while filling in for another performer in one of our shows, France requested to entertain audience members in the lobby prior to the show as a puppeteer (she was not a puppeteer in the actual show, but was a puppeteer-ing veteran with 15 years of experience under her belt).
After the show closed, Norm asked if she had considered ventriloquism, due to her mastery of puppets and a preternatural knack for charming people (believe me, we are still under her spell). This suggestion changed the course of her life and work. She went on to study ventriloquism for several years abroad, performing all over in cabarets and theaters alike. She then wrote and directed a series of plays based on the rampant AIDS pandemic in South Africa and on the suicide of the Inuits in the Canadian Far North using puppetry to convey these messages.
France produced Cabaret Zoom for the Montreal Festival Just for Laughs. She also played a major role in the production “Tableaux Vivants“, as well as wrote and produced “The Cabaret Act of Romance De Branle and Alfru Du Gland” a show of comedic songs for the Montreal Festival of Jazz. She has played a myriad of characters from a puppet strip-teaser to a ventriloquist duo with Chapin, her dog.
Now, full circle, she is returning to Teatro ZinZanni and to perform her original pre-show warm-up in our lobby. France will be here all this week, culminating in her performances at our Gala (this Sunday) and our Mirror Tent Music performance of Francine Reed.