In the UL Opera Theatre / The Compound co-production of GRAND PRE, company actor Aren Chaisson tackles the role of Colonel John Winslow, the British military official who was sent to Grand Pre to initiate the deportation of the Acadians in 1755.
Aren discusses his role in this major revisal of the locally written musical, the challenges of playing a historical figure and what he hopes local audiences take away from this powerul piece of local history.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH… AREN CHAISSON
Q: Tell us about your role in GRAND PRE.
CHAISSON: I play John Winslow who is a historical figure in the play. He’s one of a hand full of non fictional characters. He was partly responsible for carrying out the removal orders at Grand Pre’. Through Winslow’s actual journals you find that he was sympathetic with the Acadians but was torn between his own feelings and his duty.
Q: What’s it like playing another historical figure, after taclking William Shakespeare in WILLIAM AND JUDITH?
CHAISSON: I’m enjoying playing these characters. They are both very interesting people. Winslow is much easier to play for the simple fact that he’s got 1/3 the lines that Shakespeare has in William and Judith.
Q: What’s the experience been like? How is being in a musical different for you than being in a straight play?
CHAISSON: First off, the cast is an incredibly funny group of people. They are always laughing and having a great time at rehearsal. Second, I’m really starting to understand that, even though I don’t sing in this production, musical theater is very hard. For instance if I go up on a line in a straight play the show may stop a beat or two before someone picks it up. But, in this musical we are often speaking while the music is playing under us…so if we miss a line the music can’t stop and then start over…it just keeps going, with or without you.
Q: What does it mean to you being a part of a show that’s so connected to the local culture?
CHAISSON: I’m very proud to be a part of this show. After being away from my home town for 10 years it’s nice to reconnect with the story that tells where we all came from.
Q: What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
CHAISSON: I hope audiences see once more that there is some amazing talent in theater here in Lafayette. This is our story and I hope it inspires and motivates people to go out and learn more about their ancestors and family’s.