In the programme notes to First Snow/Première Neige there is a paragraph from Director Patrice Dubois – ‘During this project, we often gave ourselves up to chance encounters. Because we wanted to take a fresh look at our societies, we walked blindly, outside of our comfort zones in the culture of the Other’. This insight sets-up the context for the show and allows the audience to understand what is at play. Cultural otherness and spontaneity inform a big part ofFirst Snow/Première Neige. We view a family of 9 different people from two cultural backgrounds as they debate society, togetherness and difference. Language plays a vital role where French, English, British Sign Language, French Sign Language and super-titles are all employed to present the importance of communication. This in itself sparks elements of spontaneity and the ears and eyes of the audience are constantly being challenged.
First Snow/Première Neige is collaboration between National Theatre of Scotland, Théâtre PÀP and Hôtel-Motel. During the performance we witness the thoughts and feelings of the characters and also the performers themselves. The actors take on character roles and sometimes branch out from these roles and address each other as people. They ask each other if a response is needed within the play or within reality. This technique underlines the spontaneous aspect of the show and highlights the disharmony between the family.
First Snow/Première Neige presents the belief that everyone has their own protest or cultural movement to get behind. In this instance for some it is the 1995 Quebec independence referendum, for others it is 2014 Scottish independence referendum. For a younger generation it is the Maple Spring. This was an uprising in 2012 when students and allies took to the streets of Montreal to protest against rising tuition fees. Protesters banged pots and pans, made noise and occupied space. One conclusion is that these protest changed nothing. A similar feeling is evoked when the moments after the Scottish independence referendum are described with an aura of disappointment. Never the less this family are together and the present their grievances, hopes and aspirations with power, heart and honesty.
First Snow/Première Neige is part of the Canada Hub at King’s Hall during the Edinburgh Fringe. The Canada Hub is presenting many performances from Canadian companies and this Scottish collaboration feels right at home in Edinburgh.