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Q&A with storytellers Nicole Lavigne and Marie Bilodeau

By Brian Carroll on January 20, 2016

All photos courtesy of Ottawa StoryTellers.

All photos courtesy of Ottawa StoryTellers.

A storytelling performance of The Wizard and the Dragon is happening for one night only at the NAC Fourth Stage this Thursday. In anticipation of this event, we caught up with Nicole Lavigne and Marie Bilodeau, experienced storytellers, published authors and co-creators of the performance for Apt613 Live on CHUO 89.1 FM. Have a listen or read an edited version of the interview below:

The Wizard and the Dragon is about the legendary King Arthur and his mentor, the wizard Merlin.

Apt613: Why King Arthur? What’s your feeling about why people are interested in this 5th century figure?

Marie: Arthur is a quintessential superhero. It’s the same reason all those superhero movies are hits. He’s one man who comes from a dark time, a different time, and he manages to bring everything back towards that light.

Nicole: I think it’s a familiar story; it’s like the folktales that you grew up on. But each time you encounter it, it’s a little bit different. Malory brought in lots of chivalry. That’s around when the Round Table got brought in. There’s lots of different variations of it. But it’s always familiar.

Marie: Chrétien de Troyes brought the whole love triangle and the Holy Grail. It’s a big soap opera, too, at the same time. There are love stories. There are betrayals. There’s death. There are divorces. It’s a great soap opera.

Nicole: Anything you want in a story, you can find a version of King Arthur that has those elements. Whether you want great battles, or monsters and strange creatures. Or you want pure love, or you want love triangles. Those are all in there. You can sort of pick and choose.

Marie: And we have all of it in the show.

Apt613: Who is your audience? Marie said “It’s a big soap opera.” But Nicole, you also talked about monsters and slayings. Those are different audiences. Who turns up when you wind up telling these stories?

Nicole: I think you get a mix of people. You’ll get English majors who studied these stories. At the Tea Party, a member of Ottawa Storytellers brought her grandson, hearing that my stories had monsters. It was perfect for a ten-year-old boy.

Marie: If you’ve never heard storytelling, or never experienced it, this is actually a great show to come in because it does have all those elements. It’s a very visual tell, because you can’t really describe a battle scene without having the battle around you, with bringing in the senses, to experience that battle.

That’s what we do, as tellers, so it’s actually a great tell. It has moments. It doesn’t just have slaughter. It has hope, It has the darkness and the light. What every good story should have.

Apt613: You said age 10.

Nicole: That was our Tea Party show. This one is an older audience.

Marie: PG-13.

Apt613: So teenagers?

Both: YES!

Apt613: There’s not a lot of entertainment around for teenagers

Marie: Well we are here to fill that gap.

Nicole: Definitely teenagers through adults of all ages, should find something that they’ll enjoy in this show.

Marie: We have a musician who will accompany us, too, Jason Sonier. It’s like a sound track to our show.

We have good synergy, Nicole and I. And Jason, as well, the musician.

Nicole: Jason’s been a pleasure to work with.

Marie: He’s awesome. He’s got this giant thing…

Nicole: It’s an electric upright bass. With the pedal attachments that he has with it, he can get all kinds of really neat sound effects, drones and echoing. It’s very mysterious and magical and wonderful.

Apt613: Storytelling experience: Where else have you told?

Nicole: I’ve also told at Billings Estate, Bytown Museum, Tea Party, NAC.

Marie: I’ve had the chance to travel the country. Vancouver Island in April. I’ve been to the States to do storytelling.

I write science fiction and fantasy, as does Nicole. I’ve told at some science fiction and fantasy (SF&F) conventions as well. There’s a big overlap between people who are into SF&F and who love to hear the legends.

Nicole: With the conventions and the literary crowd, when they’re accustomed to going to readings, storytelling isn’t a big step from that.

Apt613: Nicole, you’ve been to at least one fantasy convention?

Nicole: I’ve done local ones in Ontario: Ad Astra in Toronto and Cancon in Ottawa. Then one of the big ones: World Fantasy convention this year in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Apt613: Marie, which cities in the US?

Marie: I’ve done some in Chicago, and in San Antonio, Texas. Usually at WorldCon, I get to do storytelling there.

Apt613: I know it’s January 21st for The Wizard and the Dragon, and it’s at Fourth Stage, but what time?

Both: 7:30

Apt613: How long does it run?

Marie: About two hours.

Nicole: with intermission.

Apt613: Is the bar open?

Both: Oh, yes!

Nicole: If you’ve never been to the Fourth Stage, it is a lovely venue for storytelling. It’s nice and intimate, while still holding a good crowd. There are bistro tables with their candles. You can go to the bar, have a drink while you’re listening. Doors usually open around 7 o’clock. Get in early and get a good seat.

The Wizard and the Dragon is at the NAC Fourth Stage on Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 7:30PM. Tickets are $22 ($18 for seniors and students) at the NAC box office or online.