Chinese Portrait of an Imposter

Written by:

Dominick Parenteau-Lebeuf, translated by Crystal Beliveau

Cast Size:
11

Roles For:

  • Men: 1
  • Women: 10

Genre:

Quebec Theatre
Translation

Themes:

Art
Children
Identity
Parenthood
Writing

Year Written:

2003

Synopsis:

Chinese Portrait of an Imposter (Portrait chinois d’une imposteure) is a play with a prologue, eight scenes, and an epilogue, having seven characters on stage and the insistent voices of five additional characters. During her initial session with the makeup artist in preparation for her first television appearance, Candice hears off-camera the strident voice of Inès Lusine, talk-show host of Chinese Portrait of an Artist (the echoes between the two titles of artist and imposter are telling). Candice mistakes the host’s voice for that of her dead mother who, like Lusine, represents throughout the play the voice of arbitrary authority and the source of major constraints in the creative process.

This is a terrible burden for the young contemporary writer simply in search of her own voice and seeking to explore her “relationship with words” (Scene 3).” (From “Introduction to Chinese Portrait of an Imposter (Portrait chinois d’une imposteure)” in Anthology of Quebec Women’s Plays in English Translation Volume Three 1997-2009))

Characters:

CHARACTERS:

Makeup Artist, an older man

Candice de LaFontaine-Rotonde (Surprise Visitor), a playwright in her early thirties

Inès Lusine, host of Chinese Portrait of an Artist, forty years old

Doris, eldest sister of Milli and Nil, ageless;the perfectionist

Milli, middle sister, ageless; the angst-ridden one

Nil, youngest sister, ageless; the doubter

VOICES:

Vox Maternalis, the voice of Claudette, Candice’s mother

The Four Sisters, the voices of Urania, Calliope, Thalia, and Polyhymnia, the four sisters trapped under the floor; they can be represented by puppets, shadows, or some other device.

First Produced:

Thèâtre français de Toronto, Berkeley Street Theatre, 2004.

Resources:

Chinese Portrait of an Imposter is available through Playwrights Canada Press in Anthology of Quebec Women’s Plays in English Translation Volume Three 1997-2009), edited by Louise H Forsyth.

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