The four American actors (Alex, Nadia, Whit, and Ben) of Olivier Py’s musical The Young Girl, The Devil, And The Mill shared some of their experiences working with Bertrand de Roffignac, Assistant Director (Bertrand was also one of the actors of the production in France.)

Alex Burnette (The Prince)

Working with Olivier and Bertrand has been exceptionally rewarding because I feel that there are a lot of themes in French culture that are maybe not so prevalent in American theater culture.

I feel like we actually work similarly [here in the States]. It is kind of organic:  We are on our feet all the time, the collaborative process is very creative. It is fulfilling and involved. The production is a more mature introduction to adulthood.

I was surprised how similarly Olivier and Bertrand are to American theatre artists. They are spontaneous and passionate and willing to let us offer input in the show. We are working together; it is a collaborative process: They are interested in our ideas creatively and we can add things to the show. We can compose things musically that help tell the story more for American audiences as supposed to French audiences.

They ask for our inputs for things from the American culture that we want to put in the show to make things flow better. It is exciting because it is a very creative hands-on process.

Nadia Duncan (The Young Girl)

This piece was definitely one of the hardest shows I`ve ever tackled. I`ve never had a full professional rehearsal schedule like this one: 10 to 5, 6 days a week: That was all super new to me and honestly, it`s incredible how much tenacity I gained from doing this.

Working with Bertrand, with Olivier, doing so much physicality, so much singing, and music and so many cues; this performance is truly challenging me as an actor.

I feel so proud and happy that I had this experience: this will be my first full-length professional play in New York City; I never imagined that I would have a chance like this while still studying in college. This piece and FIAF will always hold a special place in my heart.

Whit K. Lee (The Devil)

I love working on the show. It is a very physical production which is something I love doing, personally. It is very similar to what I have been doing:  Playing the violin, acting, singing, all at once. It is so much fun to do. I just did a production at Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago and it was very bold. This project has that same kind of feel: bold.

I really loved working with Bertrand: he gave us the freedom to create, to develop. He encouraged us to create, experiment and find stuff.  As an actor, it is very appreciated. And he has so much energy!

Working with him and Olivier was really exciting.  I was very interested in the project when I started because I was curious to see what the cultural difference would be if there was going to be any different. The idea of taking a show from France was very exciting.

I also had very good talks with Bertrand about the French theater environment, the government support in France. That was also really fun too.

Ben Rauch (The Gardener)

Olivier and Bertrand, they are both trained actors, real actors. Sometimes you have directors, they don’t have really acting and training background. In this case, Bertrand and Olivier, they know how to speak to actors. They speak your language;  they are able to easily articulate what they want. It is 100% clear what they are looking for. Their instinct is so good.

Also, they let us be creative. They encouraged creativity,  the spontaneity, and brought out the best from all of us. I could bring my own ideas, and they would say: all that’s good. Try it a different way. It was not judgmental but playful.  It is the best.

They let us eat pain au chocolat every day. No, I’m kidding.

This article was originally published on French Culture and has been republished with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by Nicole Birmann Bloom.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.