When an actor makes a Festival debut, he/she must choose a work that demonstrates a freeflow of emotions and impulses to signal the shape of things to come for future appearances. The always spectacular Jenny Young achieves just this in the English language premiere of Christina, The Girl King and in doing so establishes herself as Studio Theatre royalty.
Commissioned as a translation by the Festival in 2010, the eagerly anticipated play tells the story of Sweden’s Queen Christina, an extraordinarily modern character who was born just 10 years after Shakespeare’s death. The enigmatic ruler showed a passion for philosophy, literature and the arts, but her lifestyle – and her unconventional sexuality – put her profoundly at odds with her culture’s expectations of her, both as a monarch and as a woman. Rather than conform to the expectations of others, the 26-year-old queen abdicates in order to be free to pursue her own aspirations.
“Christina, The Girl King addresses the necessity, and the sacrifices, of being true to yourself,” says Ms Porteous. “Freedom is an urgent need for all of us, and yet it has a cost. Like Christina, we are all caught between public, family, or professional obligations, and our inner needs. We are all trapped by the expectations of those around us. But deep inside, under the ice, raging like a northern river in early spring, surges a powerful need to be free, to be who we really are.
Michel Marc Bouchard shows us that if this need is dammed up, it will burst forth with unforeseeable, potentially destructive consequences – unless it is sent into a new channel and allowed to run free. The exquisite, terrible ravages of love and the beautiful, dangerous necessity of embracing who you really are: that is what this play is about, to me.”
The collision of public duty and private desire lies at the heart of a drama as captivating as it is provocative. Within this season’s theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, Christina’s story is one of bringing sanity to an insane world.
“As seen through the eyes of one of our greatest playwrights, Michel Marc Bouchard, and the beautiful words of Linda Gaboriau, Christina, The Girl King helps us understand the situation of the person who does not fit in,” says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. “Christina made many important decisions over the course of her life – a life that was very much pushed to the edge by the expectations of her society. She is a remarkable figure who went against the grain, refusing to simply be what she was told she must be.
“It’s a great honour to present this world première on our Studio stage – a space that has been home to many extraordinary examinations of new work. What a treat for our audiences to be the first to see this brilliant translation of such a riveting play.”