All photos: Maxime Côté

Habibi's Angels (2020)


November 23 to December 5, 2020
La Chapelle Theatre

Streamed events : December 2nd, 6th, 27th, 2020 and January 2nd, 2021.

Text / Texte : Hoda Adra and Kalale Dalton-Lutale;
Dramaturg / Dramaturge : Josianne Dulong-Savignac;
Director / Mise en scène : Sophie Gee;
Choreography / Chorégraphie : Claudia Chan Tak.

Water : Chadia Kikondjo;
Emma : Aida Sabra;
Tamara : Lesly Velazquez;
Beth : Emilee Veluz;
Habibi's voice : France Rolland.

Set / Décor : Lyne Paquette;
Costumes / Costume : Sophie El Assaad;
Lighting / Éclairage : Leticia Hamaoui;
Video / Vidéo : Amelia Scott;
Sound / Son : Maria Elena Stoodley;
Production Manager / Gestionnaire de production : Emmanuelle Brousseau;
Stage Manager / Régisseur : Alessandra Tom;
Technical director / Directrice technique : Sophie Bergeron;
Assistant Designer / Assistance concepteur : Zoé Roux.

Talisman’s first commissioning of a play. Talisman Theatre has engaged two young, women authors—Kalale Dalton-Lutale and Hoda Adra—to collaborate on writing a bilingual, intercultural play set in Montreal. Talisman is excited to bring these two creative forces together: Kalale’s lyricism, her magic-realist, tragi-comic perspective, with Hoda’s acute Franco-Arab observations on Quebec culture and her slam-poetic energy.

The questions that Habibi’s Angels : Commission Impossible gestures towards are : How do we deal with tokenism and the harm caused by self-serving, colonialist gatekeepers? How can we fight an oppressive elite to create a real democratization of arts and culture? And above all, what does this new world that we are resisting look like?

The play is loosely inspired by Kaie Kellough's ground-breaking, magic-realist novel, Accordéon (2016), also set in Montreal, which depicts the co-evolution of a city and its cultural minorities.

SYNOPSIS / RÉSUMÉ : Profound, poetic, and deliciously quirky—The play is a living x-ray of Montreal that lays bare its foundations, ancient and modern. A meta-experiment on the collectivity with contrasting feminist visions. From its outermost shell--a volley of letters--to its innermost core—a plot to destroy The Machine—the play's true target is tokenism. All of this in a city that can't even align its streets with the four points of a compass! Audience be warned: you're invited to a scratchy celebration of Montreal.

The action begins when a pair of non-binary artists belonging to “visible minorities” are commissioned to write a bilingual play focusing on the themes of Quebec, feminism, history of women, love, and immigration… Nothing less! But one author complains: "I'd rather die than write the multicultural feminist show. [...It] feels like I'm feeding some monster." The other replies: "I don’t wake up thinking: 'How diverse I feel!' [...] Let's blow up those categories." And intersectional chaos seizes their writings!

The authors construct a labyrinthine system of characters and situations to trap and expose Habibi, a "tentacular diversity-feminism-data-eating machine" that feeds off their content. Montreal is seen through a myriad of perspectives: the blocked writer surviving on coffee and cigarettes, the young immigrant resisting the established order, the elderly Arabic-speaker with her hands plunged in the earth, and a mischievous aquatic sprite that has more than one string to her bow. When Habibi finally imprisons their characters in her Diverse Play Factory, the authors manage to turn the tables causing her self-destruction.


MonTheatre : "Habibi's Angels: Commission Impossible highlights the fact that it is still difficult for a newcomer to integrate even though visible minority artists have become fashionable. While the play evokes the Law on State Secularism (Law 21), it does not claim to be a pamphleteer. It is just a tragicomic fable, a bit pungent, in which many female spectators and, why not, some male spectators will recognize themselves."--Nathalie de Han, 04 Déc 2020. More / Plus...

La Scena : "The actresses know how to adapt their acting to make the emotion shine through a screen. The various animations also add rhythm and hold the viewer's attention. ...It's a success for this first digital experience signed Talisman Theatre."--Nancie Boulay, 14 Dec 2021. More / Plus...

JEU Revue de théâtre : "...Sophie Gee's staging is inventive despite the social distancing, the four performers--to which are added Chadia Kikondjo, Aida Sabra, and France Rolland (Habibi's voice)--, frankly energetic, the scenography, simple and effective, the choreography by Claudia Chan Tak, quality, the use of video, very welcome, and the costumes by Sophie El Assaad, delirious. Their fun mix of multicultural motifs fused with a comic book aesthetic in a 'superhero Power Rangers' style is worth mentioning."--Mario Cloutier, 01 Dec 2020. More / Plus...

En Toutes Lettres : "In a society where a Tokenist Quebec government--making symbolic efforts to include minority groups in order to escape accusations of discrimination--refuses to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism, Habibi sheds a refreshing light."--Mario Cloutier, 26 Nov 2020. More / Plus...

CKUT Upstage : SOPHIE (Director) : "So here we have the Angels who are--you'll see from the video because I don't think we'll be able to perform it live in front of an audience--but they are a play on women of colour; they have super, super, super bright clothing on, and they are a visible minority, and they've been tasked as these superheroes by this unknown person, Habibi, to make a play, to capitalize on the fact that they are women of colour. ...And, actually, like, the character of Habibi is trying to get trauma porn."--Sarah Dehaies, 26 Nov 2020. More / Plus...

Spirale : "The voice of Hoda, whom I reached by phone on November 20, is joyful ... 'It's a meta-theatrical piece,' she sums up, at last. I immediately realize that, without realizing it, we were actually talking about the play throughout the interview. Because the show comes to ask the same question that nourished our exchanges: how to put forward alternative stories about Montreal, without art becoming number painting?"--Sarah-Louise Pelletier-Morin, 25 Nov 2020. More / Plus...

LeDevoir : "Sophie Gee, director of Habibi's Angels (Talisman Theatre), also takes things with perspective. ... 'I think we can all benefit from calming down, from living on a fallow land, from refocusing on processes rather than on their products. Let's use this time in the theatre as an additional residency, which is a great artistic luxury.'"--Catherine Lalonde, 21 Nov 2020. More / Plus...


Hoda Adra, Playwright

Hoda Adra is a spoken word poet and filmmaker with a practice rooted in writing as resistance and self-inscription. Born in Lebanon, raised in Saudi Arabia and adopted by Montreal, this triangle inspired her first album La liberté des sens, a rhythmical account of an Arab female body crossing worlds way too fast. Using performance as a pledge against erasure, Hoda examines notions of planetarity versus self-censorship through storytelling, somatic inquiry and the voice. Her writings explore gender apartheid, oral history abortion and politics of marginalization and their links to feminine motricity. Poetically drawing on phenomena from childhood, psychogenealogy and quantum physics, Hoda seeks to transmit that our hearts – when constellated – can become spaces of collective reimagining.

Hoda is currently in residency at the M.A.I and at Main Film, and an alumna of the Banff Centre’s Spoken Word Program and New Media Institute. Her writing and video work have been supported by the Canada Council for the arts and the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec. Performances and screenings include the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Nuit Blanche, FQD, Place-des-Arts, FIFEQ, RIDM, Montreal Stop-Motion Festival, les Halles de Bruxelles, and she once brought home the silver medal at the Quebec Grand Slam. As an antidote to words, Hoda can be found spilling paint.

Kalale Dalton-Lutale, Playwright

Kalale is a writer and performer from Toronto. She has performed in Pervers/Cite, Montreal MonoChrome, Playwrights Workshop Montreals' Young Creators Unit Showcase, The Revolution They Wrote Theatre Festival, and KillJoy's Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House in Toronto and Los Angeles. Recently her play Pinky Swear (Geordie Productions) was nominated for two Montreal English Theatre awards; Outstanding New Text, and Outstanding Emerging Artist. Pinky Swear (Geordie Productions) was also nominated for a Tom Hendry award in the inaugural Theatre for Young Audiences category. Kalale recently graduated in playwriting at The National Theatre School of Canada where she developed a number of new works.

Josianne Dulong-Savignac, Dramaturg

Josianne has a degree in Theater Studies from the UQAM Theater School. She is interested in current interdisciplinary practices as well as relational aesthetics. As part of her research-creation at UQAM's Master of Arts, Josianne designed Pour avoir une image claire de l’homme (To Have a Clear Image of the Man), a participatory exhibition questioning the collective memory related to the Canadian neo-colonial context, the visitor's participation and their willingness to look at fading faces from archival footage from residential schools. Josianne also works as a stage manager and playwright for several creators. She is also artistic assistant at Les Deux Mondes and cultural mediator at La Serre | Arts vivants. Multifaceted, she was also a member of the editorial board of the art magazines: aparté | arts vivants and Artichaut.

Sophie Gee, Director

Sophie Gee is a director of mostly new creations which she presents under the name Nervous Hunter. Her interdisciplinary performance Lévriers (MAI, Montréal, arts interculturels), was part of the 2019/2020 season of the National Arts Centre and will be touring the Maisons de la culture in 2021. She is an artist in residence at Théâtre Aux Écuries for the 2020/2021 season where she will create her next piece, Bonnes Bonnes. As a freelancer, she has directed The Tropic of X by Caridad Svich (Imago Theatre, Montreal), Michaela di Cesare's Fear of Missing Out (for Geordie Theatre) and she will be one of six directors for Théâtre I.N.K.’s next project. A graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada’s Directing Programme, Sophie strives for ways to combine her love of text and story with the research processes of dance and contemporary art.

Claudia Chan Tak, Choreography

Is a multidisciplinary artist based in Montreal. She graduated from Concordia University in Intermedia / CyberArts, Department of Studio Arts in 2009. She received the William Douglas Excellence Scholarship for her BFA in contemporary dance at the University of Quebec in Montreal in 2012. Her autobiographical solo, Moi, petite Malgache-Chinoise was presented at MAI (Montreal, arts interculturels) in December 2016. Her other choreographic creations have been presented in OFFTA, Phénomena, Zone Homa, La Petite Scène, Art Matters and Edgy Women. She co-created with Louis-Elyan Martin three pieces presented at Tangente (2013, 2015, 2017) dealing in a playful way with clichés of contemporary dance. She also dances in many projects of the Company Les soeurs Schmutt, Philippe Dandonneau and the Fanfare Pourpour.


Chadia Kikondjo, Water

Right after receiving her B.A in Theatre, Chadia began her professional career and debut by embarking the 2PlayTour with Geordie Productions in 2019. She toured the shows FOMO and The Water Chronicles. She also played in White (2019) which she also co-directed. And for her most recent work, Black Balloon (2020) with the Centaur Theatre's: The Portico Project. As well as an actor, Chadia is also a singer/songwriter and her most notable appearance was on La Voix 6 in 2018. As an artist, fulltime bey-hiver, and part-time rent-head, Chadia strives to create and support works that instigate conversations, and challenges societal norms.

Aida Sabra, Emma

Aida has been active in the performing arts since 1983. She has taught acting, physical expression, mime and dance at the Lebanese University. She also taught theatrical expression at the Star Academy. She has played leading roles in theatre productions as actress, mime, and dancer. She has starred in a number of TV series and film productions. She was nominated for the best actress award for her monodrama performance at the Cairo Festival for Experimental Theatre in 1997. Aida has participated in several theatrical festivals in Tunisia, Kuwait; and Sharja U.A.E, where the play The Dictator received Best Theatrical Award in 2013. She has also written and directed several plays.

Lesly Velazquez, Tamara

Lesly is a Mexican-born actress established in Montreal since 2012. She studied languages and literature before completing her bachelor's degree in theater at the University of Veracruz. In Mexico, she worked with Mercedes de la Cruz, Alberto Lomnitz and Boris Shoemann. Her artistic career has led her to participate in several projects as an actress and puppeteer such as Cabaret de l'Objet, traité # 4 (La Pire-Espèce), Lola, un monde qui s’achève (Ondinnok), Jean dit (Théâtre l'Activité), Fiel (Theatre Ink), Valparaiso (Singulier Pluriel) and Migraaants (Coop Ludotek). She continued her training at the École du Mime, Dynamo Theater, Resource Center Theater and Ateliers Danielle Fichaud.

Emilee Veluz, Beth

Emilee Veluz is a Canadian born Filipina and has been working as a professional theatre, film and TV actor for over 20 years. Taking a little break to be a wife and a mom of 3, Emilee is excited to be back at it full time with the support of her family. She has toured eastern Canada and USA with Geordie Theatre and is best known on stage for her role as June in the Governor General Award winning play, Where the Blood Mixes by Kevin Loring and Twinkle in the Montreal hit play, Miss Orient(ed) by Nina Lee Aquino and Nadine Villasin; both produced by Teesri Duniya Theatre. Emilee is very excited to be working with Talisman Theatre for the first time. Selected Television and Film credits include, Clouds, The Moodys, 19-2, Nine Lives, Broken Trust and The Lottery. Diversity in theatre, TV and film is very important to Emilee and despite all the barriers of being a woman of color in this industry, her goal is to continue to represent the under-represented and tell the stories of the 'other'.

France Rolland, Habibi's voice

France is a Montreal based actor. Theatre credits include: Macbeth (Modern Times Stage Company), Angélique (Black Theatre Workshop/Table D’Höte Theatre), L’Histoire du Soldat (Orchestre Symphonique de Laval), Top Girls (Segal Centre for Performing Arts), The Bacchae and Medea (Scapegoat Carnivale Theatre), Sexy Béton (Projet Porte Parole), Snowman (Imago Theatre), Les Contes Urbains (Théâtre Urbi et Orbi). She has taken part in the Festival TransAmériques, the Just for Laughs Festival and the Toronto SummerWorks Performance Festival. She has been awarded a MECCA for best actress (Medea), and a META for Outstanding Supporting Performance (The Bacchae).


Lyne Paquette, Set designer

Lyne is a founder (with Emma Tibaldo) of Talisman Theatre. A graduate of the National Theatre School (2005), set design is Lyne's second career. Prior to this, she had worked as a professional engineer (McGill, 1987). Beginning as an Assistant Designer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and as an intern at Michael Curry Designs, Lyne has since designed for many theatre, dance, puppet, and opera productions in Montreal. She has designed sets and costumes for Talisman productions since 2005.

Sophie El Assaad, Costume designer

Sophie El Assaad is a theatre and visual artist with Lebanese/British roots, transplanted from Bahrain to Montreal. Her theatre work has primarily involved design and is now also moving towards writing and directing. She is the recipient of three Montreal English Theatre Awards: Emerging Artist (2017) and Outstanding Costume Design (2017 and 2018). Sophie is an alumni of the 2017/2018 Black Theatre Workshop’s Artist Mentorship Program and is currently in residence at the MAI under their Alliance program. Her artistic practice explores Middle Eastern themes and seeks to challenge Western perceptions.

Leticia Hamaoui, Lighting Designer

Leticia Hamaoui graduated from Collège Lionel-Groulx's Option-Théâtre (Théâtre Production, 2013) and has since worked as stage manager, assistant director and, above all, lighting designer. In the summer of 2015, she designed the lighting for two comedies: Pierre et le démon, at the Théâtre des Grands Chênes, then Boeing Boeing, directed by André Robitaille. In 2016, she directs and lights her own creation, Douce, at the ZH Festival. For the past three years, she has designed the lighting for the Festival du Jamais Lu, in addition to collaborating with directors Jean-Philippe Baril Guérard (a singularité est proche, OFFTA), Jean-François Guilbault (Les Sangs, Bébé Sorcière), Fabien Cloutier (Bonne retraite, Jocelyne), Philippe Boutin (Being Philippe Gold; Chante, Edmond!) and Jean-François Guilbault (La singularité est proche, OFFTA). ), Sylvain Scott (Le Scriptarium 2019), Olivier Ducas and Francis Monty (L'anatomie de l'objet, Traité N°5: L'état des choses), Nicolas Gendron (Et au pire, on se marierera; L'Enfance de l'art - Doigts d'auteur by Marc Favreau), then Annie Ranger (Faire la leçon). At the same time, she is in constant dialogue with several choreographers, including Natacha Filiatrault (Pavlov), Manuel Shink (La mécanique des dessous), Gabrielle Bertrand-Lehouiller (Naïve; La paix dans le monde) and Alexandra Landé (In-Ward).

Amelia Scott, Video designer

Amelia Scott is a video designer, projection technologist, and new media artist working in theatre, opera, dance, and beyond. Based out of Montreal and working across Canada, she works in the intersection of animation, video, film, and live performance. She is also an instructor of Video Technology and Design at The National Theatre School of Canada.

Maria Elena Stoodley, Sound designer

Is a singer, author, songwriter and sound designer half of the time, the remaining being spent in community organizing. Born in Tio'tia:ke, Montreal, she often blends her passion for social justice and black liberation with her art practices. She studied Creative Writing and Electroacoustic music and performed her music internationally, including in Cameroon and Brazzaville, Congo. Her most recent sound design work was shown in the plays, The Mountaintop, the Rootless tree, Manman LaMer, Black Out (nominated for oustanding sound design for the META’s - Montreal English Theatre Awards).

Emmanuelle Brousseau, Production Manager

Emmanuelle Brousseau is a freelance writer and theatre worker, based in Montreal. Born in Trois-Rivières, she has studied music, litterature, film, and set design, before getting a degree in theatre production, from National Theatre School of Canada (2017). Since then, she has worked with Festival TransAmériques, Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Castel_Blast, performance artist Soleil Launière and other creative companies in Montreal. Emmanuelle is the co-artistic director of Le Cabinet d’Ingéniosités, with whom she created two plays: Se rincer l’âme au windshield washer (2016) and Nous sommes les enfants du hangover 95 (2019). Both were presented at Montreal’s Fringe Festival. The first has even won the «Best French Production» award, at the end of the festival.

Alessandra Tom, Stage Manager

Is a Chinese Canadian artist based in Montréal whose professional theatre credits involve roles as a director, dramaturge, and devised creator. Having graduated from Concordia University in Performance Creation with a minor in Human Rights, she has combined the two passions in the aim of staging socially relevant works. Productions at the Montréal Fringe include stage managing Adoration (Tantalus), directing Bite Your Tongue (SortOf Productions), and most recently directing, producing and co-creating the Frankie-nominated Attempts in Flight (Dai Bao Productions).

Sophie Bergeron, Technical director

Sophie Bergeron specialises as a technical director and video designer. Her objective is to develop her projects to the highest level possible and her desire of accomplishment constantly pushes her towards innovation. Constantly looking for new challenges, in addition to theatre she wishes to work within museum exhibitions, immersive experiences, dance, circus and with young audiences. She is also very interested in touring in all its forms. Before moving on to theater, she pursued a DCS in visual arts and a DPS in woodworking and furniture refinishing. During her studies at the National Theatre School of Canada, she worked under the supervision of Simon Cloutier, Pierre Phaneuf, Kathleen Gagnon, Victor Lamontagne, René Lavoie, Isabelle Brodeur, Gonzalo Soldi and Mathieu St-Arnaud.

Zoé Roux, Assistant designer

Zoe Roux is a set, costume, and lighting designer based in Montreal. She was awarded 'Outstanding Emerging Artist' at the The Montreal English Theatre Awards for her set and lighting design on Invasive Species (Blue Ox productions) and Smackhead (We Are One). Other recent credits include: costume and lighting design on Madame Catherine prépare sa classe de troisième à l'irrémédiable (Surreal SoReal Theatre), costume and lighting design on Encore (Tableau D'Hôte Theatre), set design on All Flesh is Grass (The Other Theatre), set and lighting design on Winter's Daughter (Tableau D'Hôte Theatre) and set and lighting design on Counter Offence (Teesri Duniya Theatre). As well, she is a past alumni of the The Black Theatre Workshop's 2016-2017 Artist Mentorship Program.