Monday, June 2, 2014

The Question... Jean-François Michaud and Francois Morin on Housebum - A Superhero on Trial (Fringe)

Comic Books...On Stage
by Estelle Rosen

Mask VS Title is made up of Jean-François Michaud and François Morin. They met in the independent wrestling circuit some years ago. Their shared interests include Dada and expressionistic art, 90s cartoons and sunflowers. Their first production Housebum: A Superhero on Trial! will be presented at the Montreal Fringe Festival.

CHARPO: A new theatre company with a name and a first production that sounds like a videogame! What's the background on how both came to be?

MORIN: We met some years ago on the independent wrestling circuit and it felt like we had similar interests and sense of humour. We share a love for comic books and pop culture. Wrestling, comic books and video games all have this particular aspect to them of having long arcs that can develop over a long period of time and this has really captured Jean-François’s imagination since he was a kid. In time, we became friends we started talking about creating a project together. The name “Mask VS Title”---- a particular type of pro wrestling match where a wrestler puts his/her mask on the line against a champion’s title---- popped up right away and we both loved it. I don’t think we ever thought seriously about any other name. We were gonna be “Mask VS Title” no matter what we do. (cont'd)

MORIN (cont'd): There were a few initial projects that we worked on; a different take on a sketch show and a web series. Our biggest problem was never the writing but rather that we felt that we couldn’t find actors to work with us because we didn’t study in theatre schools and didn’t have this network of actors around us. We didn’t know anyone and didn’t have a resumé. This always felt like the biggest hurdle to us. Ultimately we tried out the very zeitgeist option of posting ads on Facebook and Craigslist. We were somewhat surprised not only by the number of people that were willing to come read for us but also, after seeing the auditions, the quality of the actors. They were outstanding.

We were in a pinch to find a show for the Fringe and Jean-François had in mind this comic book and video game he wanted to create about a vigilante called Housebum, based on an encounter he had with a homeless man who apparently thought Jean-François was also homeless. He came up with a cool turn where the character would be sued by criminals over
repeated concussions. I had a funny sketch about a depressing morning show and we decided it gave a nice texture to the Housebum universe to add this element to it. We moved from there afterwards and it became this comedy play about comic books, propaganda, sanity, ideology, militantism, vigilantes and our own inability to talk to women. “Housebum: A Superhero on Trial!“ is part of a bigger narrative but it’s the first released in the story of Housebum. It’s a comic book on stage. Geeks will find themselves in our show.

June 13 - 22 Montreal Fringe Festival

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