Q&A: Maggie & Pierre

Kaitlyn Riordan tackles multiple iconic roles in Linda Griffiths' beloved one-woman play

Presented by timeshare
Written by Linda Griffiths with Paul Thompson
Directed by Rob Kempson
Starring Kaitlyn Riordan

Kaitlyn Riordan in Maggie & Pierre.

Linda Griffiths' Maggie & Pierre captures the global fascination around Margaret and Pierre Trudeau, and the highs and lows of their explosive relationship. This month, timeshare's production directed by Rob Kempson and starring Kaitlyn Riordan, lands in Toronto at the Tarragon Theatre Workspace following an acclaimed run at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in 2017. 

Here, we chat with Riordan about her experience working on this Canadian classic.

Theatromania: When did you first encounter Linda Griffiths’ Maggie & Pierre and did you picture yourself performing it? What attracted you to the piece?

KR: When I first moved to Toronto in 2009, I asked a friend to recommend some Canadian playwrights for me to read, as I had been living outside of Canada for six years and felt out of touch. Being from Montreal, when I cam across Linda Griffiths' play, the opportunity to learn more about Pierre Trudeau sparked my interest right away. But if Pierre drew me in, Maggie kept me coming back for more. I was endlessly fascinated by her as I discovered her wild journey and affect on this country. Linda’s writing is so full of humour and intelligence that it’s hard to believe these two people were real and not just brilliant imaginings of a brilliant writer. Never in a million years did I imagine myself doing it. Rob Kempson planted that seed and nurtured its growth until I finally admitted that even if I wasn’t sure I could do, I was sure that I wanted to do it. 

Theatromania: How do you prepare for a show where you switch between playing three different characters?

KR: I listen to the Hamilton sound track and juggle for an hour before every show. It’s best not to think too much about it, I find.

Theatromania: What has been the most challenging part of this experience so far?

KR: Stepping into the shoes of three epic characters; Pierre Trudeau, Maggie Sinclair, and Linda Griffiths. I am awed by all of them, and knowing the affect of this play on the Canadian theatre landscape is daunting, as well as exciting. I have so much admiration for Linda’s writing and know what an impact she had on her audiences, that I often wonder what the hell we’re thinking doing another production. But I’m told be reliable sources that she’d be thrilled it was having another life, and of course the theatre is a live experience, so for it to live in a space and not just on the page, is vital. 

Theatromania: Have you learned anything new about the Trudeaus or Canada?

KR: Oh yes! The senior Trudeaus (Maggie & Pierre) were visionaries, both of them had huge ideas and they weren’t afraid to try them out. More often than not, they failed, but sometimes they succeeded and I admire anyone with the gumption to put themselves out there the way they did. I think that’s why they were attracted to each other, despite their chasm of differences, and why as Canadians we couldn’t get enough of them, at first… I also learned that Canada has a very short memory, most people of my generation know very little about these two. They were the Kennedys of Canada, and in the US, we’d never be allowed to forget them.

Theatromania: What’s next for you?

KR: I’ve written an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar that will premiere this summer with Shakespeare in the Ruff in Withrow Park. ‘Portia’s Julius Caesar’ reframes the original play and tells the story of the female characters who were living in Rome at the time, and who had major roles to play in this political moment. Written in iambic pentameter, it mirrors Shakespeare’s style, while exploring questions of loyalty, infertility, and the agency of the people on the fringes of the stories we tell. 

Maggie & Pierre runs until May 19, 2018 at the Tarragon Theatre Workspace. Visit tarragontheatre.com for more information and to buy tickets. 

Show Dates: 
Wed, 2018-05-09 - Sat, 2018-05-19

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