The baseball fields of 11 Montreal boroughs will host a mismatched team this summer to play a very unique match in the form of a play.
Entitled Fausse ball, this traveling (and free) show brings together 15 French-speaking, English-speaking and Spanish-speaking performers and musicians. The text, written by Jean-Philippe Lehoux in collaboration with Yohayna Hernández, Charles Dauphinais and Ariana Pirela Sánchez, recounts the last game of a friendly league that has met every week for 37 years to play baseball. The land that hosts them will be razed to make way for a dog park.
A similar fate almost struck the Jeanne-Mance Park baseball field a few years ago. A group of players successfully campaigned for their land to be preserved. “This militant struggle to maintain a space for recreation and meeting has inspired us,” says co-director Charles Dauphinais.
The authors have therefore imagined the ultimate match of an imaginary league, populated by colorful characters with nicknames as only sport can create: Baloune, Choppy, Ti-Cri, El Tecolote (the owl)… For 37 years, the Gisèle (alias Gigi) is in charge of presenting the matches (and entertaining the crowd) on the microphone, between two mojitos. Each and everyone has their own little story, which will be told in words, but also in dance and music.
A great baseball fan since childhood, Jean-Philippe Lehoux realizes an old dream with this theatrical-sports project. “I’ve always found the baseball field to be a good place to create a show. You see it on summer evenings in the parks: the grounds act like magnets. Several walkers stop to see a bit of the game…”
For Jean-Philippe Lehoux, baseball remains a powerful symbol of the Americas, from north to south. “It really is a Pan American sport, anchored throughout the territory. It is rare to find keys common to all the Americas. »
Although the Expos have been away from Olympic Stadium for almost 20 years, baseball remains important to the city that welcomed Jackie Robinson in the 1940s, Jean-Philippe Lehoux said.
“The sport remains very popular among Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans here. He was also important for Montreal. Jackie Robinson played here, Felipe Alou, the first Latin American major league coach, was an important sporting figure in the city. Everyone has a history with baseball. But it’s not always passion; sometimes it’s repulsion! »
In the case of co-director Ariana Pirela Sánchez, baseball remains intimately linked to her childhood. “In Venezuela, where I come from, it is the national sport. I have an aunt who is crazy about it. »
“In Cuba, it’s difficult that your life is not crossed by baseball,” continues Yohayna Hernández. It is everywhere and has been associated with great moments in history, such as visits by Obama or Chávez to baseball games. »
Dominique Quesnel, who plays the supercharged presenter Gigi, also has her little history with sport. “When I was little, I went to see my dad play in a softball league in Saint-Lambert, made up of volunteer firefighters and police officers. My father was not very good, but he won the trophy for the most enthusiastic player in his team. This trophy is one of the things I kept when he died. »
The actress is delighted to participate in this project. “It’s an amazing post-pandemic show! It is for everyone, and at each performance, there will be a civic party organized by the boroughs. »
For Jean-Philippe Lehoux, having the opportunity to meet audiences who do not necessarily frequent theatrical institutions is a great privilege. “We go for walks everywhere in Montreal. Sport is very unifying: there is immediately an emotional connection that is created. »
Fausse ball is presented by the Théâtre Hors Taxes and the Maisons de la culture de Montréal. The show will be presented starting June 27 in the borough of Ville-Marie. The tour will end on August 30 in LaSalle, with stops in Montreal North, Anjou, Verdun and Ahuntsic.
For the schedule of performances and to inquire about cancellations in the event of bad weather, consult the Facebook page of the Théâtre Hors Taxes.