Wednesday, April 17, 2013

In a Word... Trilby Jeeves on DUSTY SHOES (Fringe)

I never consider myself a clown

Trilby Jeeves was the first English student to be theatrically trained in her second language for 3 years at Le Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique in Québec City. She went on to perform in both languages, eventually coming back to Vancouver. In BC, she worked with Théâtre La Seizième, The Raymond Burr Theatre, First Impressions Theatre, and other small companies. In between working as a costumer in the film industry, Trilby directed the first French Canadian productions in Vancouver of “Les Monologues du Vagin” two years running as well as teaching improvisation and buffoonery acting en Français, throughout various schools in B.C., and Prince Edward Island, and a workshop for Saskatchewan Film. She taught “Le Bouffon” at Tooba Physical Theatre Centre, and teaches at VanArts in Vancouver, Canada. In 2008, she took her work internationally and taught her Buffoonery Acting Workshop in Humacao, Puerto Rico. She will be touring Dusty Shoes to the Regina and Edmonton Fringe Festivals.

CHARPO:  Okay, for starters...bilingual? Why?!

JEEVES: There are two main characters in the piece, and one is from France. Madame Rouge is a bouffon, an exaggeration of a personality from the 1920’s. My training was in French and I love mixing and playing in both languages. It brings an interesting dimension to the work.

CHARPO:  Now you are a clown. What don't people get about clowning in theatre?

JEEVES: Hmmm… I don’t like to use the word clown and I never consider myself a clown. It conjures up too many clichés. I’m using “Le Bouffon” as a vehicle to descend into a more vulnerable real character. Bouffon is defined as a type of clown, but I see it more as a part of one’s self that gets to be bold, and truthful. I think if people who watch clowning get put off, the performance, if it is well done, will most likely be mirroring something that makes the audience uncomfortable. They may translate that into not getting it. Or maybe they come in with expectations of what clowning is, and it isn’t fulfilled.

CHARPO: Does it drive you nuts that artsy theatre folk who don't get it insist on using the concept of clowning for shows from Beckett to Shepard?

JEEVES: I don’t really have any strong opinions about that. But, I don’t respond to anything that seems gimmicky if it isn’t based in a strong foundation of truth. Any performance that is effective should provoke emotion in its audience. If someone wants to explore a piece through the filter of a clown, that’s fine. If the final product is interesting enough for presentation, great! But, if the story is lost because of a gimmick, then it’s not so good. Alternatively, using clown for rehearsal exploration can also be an interesting tool. I actually teach actors Le Bouffon for this purpose and it works brilliantly.

CHARPO:  Tell us a bit of your own journey.

JEEVES: My theatrical journey began as a dresser back stage when I was 17 in Prince Edward Island. Eventually, I studied acting at Le Conservatoire D’Art Dramatique de Québec in Quebec City. I am still the only anglophone to have done the three year course in its 50 years. I learned two languages – acting and French! That is where I picked up the Bouffon, and the notion of creating your own work. I’ve wanted to create a one woman show for me, for years. A back operation 10 years ago started me on that path. It has been circuitous, but I’m finally here.

CHARPO:  Tell us about the genesis of this production.

JEEVES: I was working in the costume department in films and television for my “day” job, and then taking time off to perform in the theatre, until I couldn’t return to set because of my back. I returned to my love of teaching, created my own workshops Buffoonery Acting Workshops and finally started writing more. A challenging journey with my back, and rehabilitation for my leg got me thinking about a show. Dusty Shoes was born from an image in my home (you’ll have to see the show to know what it is), and I have been writing off and on for a while.

CHARPO:  Highs and lows - what are you anticipating for this year's Fringe season for yourself?

JEEVES: As this is the first year for me to do two out of town Fringes, everything is new and I feel like I’m re-inventing the organizational wheel in some ways. That being said, I am gradually being surrounded by some incredibly talented friends who are offering varied services. I’m overwhelmed in a good way by the support I am receiving. I don’t know what to anticipate other than needing a lot of stamina (not in my 20’s anymore!), which I hope will be there. And, I anticipate meeting many creative people trying to make a difference and giving audiences a good time. Of course, I anticipate my show to be a hit! Hahaha.

Here’s an online journal of the Dusty Shoes Adventure... just started.


  1. Will you do the show in your home city of Vancouver, too?

    1. Whoops... put my response in the wrong place! I'm intending on producing it in Vancouver. Not sure of the venue, yet, but stay tuned! :) Thanks for asking.. :)

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. I will do the show in Vancouver. We will produce it privately. Not sure of the venue yet. Stay tuned :) Trilby

  3. Since all of your venues are so far from the can l watch? Sounds amazing!

  4. I have dusty shoes in my closet so to speak.

    I am very excited to find out about the adventures of Dusty Shoes.
    Knowing you the way I do Trilby, I am convinced you will capture the audience on your travels with Truth and Emotions.
    Can't wait to greet you in Edmonton!

    Break a Leg or is that the wrong way to wish you the Best..?

    1. Thank you so much! I look forward to my Edmonton experience. And, "Break A Leg" is great! :)

  5. Hopefully it will be successful enough to bring it to you one day! Thanks!


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