‘Seven Devils and a French Nun’ at NC Stage, May 18 & 19

Press release from North Carolina Stage Company:

Seven Devils and a French Nun is a one-woman solo comedy based on the true story of Jeanne des Anges, a rebel sex-starved nun who proclaimed that a suave local priest caused her to be possessed by seven devils, each of whom makes a “guest appearance” in the show (all performed in bravura fashion by Montbertrand). Many exorcisms, a burning, and a major miracle later, Jeanne became a Saint, touring France as the earliest version of a rock superstar! Jeanne was a complex larger-than -life character. Drawing on her expertise and a comedian and trained bouffon clown, Montbertrand explores Jeanne’s story with great theatricality, intensity, and a rude sense of humor.

Ron Bashford, a frequent collaborator at North Carolina Stage Company and Immediate Theatre Project, directs. Currently, Bashford is also directing ITP’s production of Burden, which he co-wrote with its starring actor, Willie Repoley.

Seven Devils and A French Nun has been performed numerous times in New York City at Williamsburg’s Cloud City, Dixon Place, and as part of the Actor Warrior Festival at the Harold Clurman Lab Theatre. In addition, the show was performed at Maine’s Barn Arts Collective, and at Amherst College in Massachusetts. The Asheville performances begin the next phase of performances, which include plans to present the show in France, Poland, and Luxembourg.

Seven Devils and A French Nun was co-written by Montbertrand and Ron Bashford, who also directs the 75-minute show. Montbertrand was originally drawn to the character of Jeanne des Anges – “Joan of the Angels” – because her story was “so peculiar and so extreme.” As Bashford has noted, “It seemed like the perfect real-life figure to turn into a wildly entertaining clown-like character, like Sacha Baron Cohen’s alter-ego, Borat – by using Carine’s amazing clowning skills.” The “anything goes” performance style gives Montbertrand the freedom to whimsically contemplate “fame, narcissism, fraud, superstitious belief and the use of religion for political ends,” Bashford says — as well as to impersonate all seven of the devils that possessed the nun. “It’s edgy and irreverent, dealing with issues of sex, religion and politics in unconventional ways. And especially questions of truth and public performance, which seem so important nowadays. But mostly, it’s super funny.”

Carine Montbertrand is a professional actor based in New York City. She has performed in many of the country’s leading regional theaters, on tour, Off-Broadway, and for the New York International Fringe Festival. Born in France and raised in the U.S., as a young performer she developed a love of classical French theatre and trained in Paris at the Conservatoire National Superieur d’Art Dramatique. Later, Montbertrand earned her Master of Fine Arts in acting from the Professionial Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware. She has also studied with renowned clown teachers Philippe Gaulier and Chris Bayes. Known for her versatility, Montbertrand’s dramtic credits include roles as diverse as Lady Macbeth, Brecht’s Arturo Ui, and Laura in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. A gifted comedian, Montbertrand has also earned praise for roles by Noel Coward, Marc Camoletti, and Steve Martin. She has been a member of several exceptional companies including The Acting Company, The Flying Machine, and the University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players. Montbertrand is also an award-winning narrator of numerous audiobooks, and a master teacher of commedia.

Ron Bashford has directed more than eighty productions and multimedia projects, from traditional play scripts to collaborations with contemporary composers and choreographers. Comfortable with a wide variety of dramatic writing, Ron has done a significant body of work for Asheville’s North Carolina Stage Company, including plays by Shakespeare, Caryl Churchill, Yasmina Resa, and Joe Orton. His productions of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Hamlet tied to win the Mountain Express awards for Best Production in the same year. For Immediate Theatre Project, Bashford directed Sarah Ruhl’s Dead Man’s Cell Phone, and a new one-man show, Burden, starring Willie Repoley. Bashford has also directed for Syracuse Stage, Vermont Stage Company, Two River Theater Company, North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, and the Hangar Theater, among others. His production of Much Ado About Nothing for Independent Shakespeare Company was nominated by the Los Angeles Times as a “Critic’s Choice.” In New York City, Bashford has directed music and dance collaborations at the Joyce Soho, Joe’s Pub, The Kitchen, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and assisted renowned British director Michael Bogdanov on the Broadway-bound musical, Lone Star Love. Bashford is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, and currently teaches theater at Amherst College.

Seven Devils and A French Nun has only two scheduled performances at NC Stage: Friday May 18, and Saturday May 20. Both performances will take place at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students. Patrons of Immediate Theatre Project’s production of Burden (running April 25 to May 20) may purchase two tickets to Seven Devils for the price of one (BOGO).

North Carolina Stage Company is located at 15 Stage Lane in downtown Asheville and has been producing professional theatre in its 125-seat playhouse since 2001. It continues its commitment to artistic excellence, intellectual exploration and education during the 2017-2018 Season. For information on season passes, upcoming productions, educational opportunities and much more, call the theatre’s box office at 828-239-0263 or visit www.ncstage.org.

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