The show, “The Mystery of Kermaria”, took place at the Motherhouse in Brittany, France, on the 9th and 10th of September. After two years of planning the project finally came to fruition. The following interviews and testimonials reflect the beauty of the production.
The project was coordinated by Sr Marie-Andrée Servel, who oversees the General archives at Kermaria. Here’s what she had to say to us:
“How did the idea for the show come about?”
In 2019, Sr Anne Thirion, Provincial of France, called together a small team to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mother Marie de Saint Charles. Initially, it was to have been a prayer vigil with texts by Mother Marie de Saint Charles and music. However, after talking to a number of people with experience in this field, they told me that I should dare to consider a ‘Sound and Light’ show. That’s how Father André Guillevic and Father Fagot convinced us to put on this show. When Covid arrived, everything then came to a halt, then finally in 2022, the project evolved into an open-air show.
“Who wrote the script for the show?”
– Father André Guillevic, in close collaboration with the Archives.
« Who was the director? »
– Mr Philippe Le Pays du Teilleul. He lives in Sérent and had already directed a show about Saint Vincent Perrier in Vannes, so that’s how we hired him.
“Was the number of actors difficult to manage?”
– We had seventy-five actors whom I contacted individually, so I created personal links with each of them…. We had to make up for several no-shows (health problems, studies).
“I suppose you’ve had a lot of rehearsals?”
– Yes, a lot, and with a lot of constraints, especially the weather when we had to rehearse outside.
“How many people came to watch the show?”
– 1300 people on the first day, and 1600 on the second.
“Have you had any positive feedback?”
– I received a tremendous amount of thanks, congratulations, and bravos.
It’s true that the actors were remarkable, bordering on perfection. They outdid themselves, and I thank every one of them for giving their very best.
“Would you like to add anything?”
– For me, it was a very rich human and spiritual experience. Above and beyond the event itself, I’m delighted by all the links forged between people who didn’t know each other. There was a lot of diversity in the group: people from the local area, intellectuals, single people, large families, and children. The father of a family of 8 children, all actors, said: “The Spirit worked in the heart of each of my children and in the whole family”.
Testimonials from spectators
“Thank you for this production, which took a long time to develop and prepare. I rediscovered certain aspects of the personality of Mother Marie de St Charles and received and integrated a personal message. I appreciated her insistence on the need for a spiritual as well as professional and human formation! I found that the actors performed their roles with a certain assurance and ease, and that they enjoyed performing. They radiated a certain happiness which implies that the troupe experienced something powerful together. “THANK YOU”.
Sr Nathalie Guéguen fj, spectator
“We were very happy to be able to come and see the show. Mother Marie de Saint Charles was very insistent on training for her Sisters, that they should have the necessary diplomas to teach and to nurse. In Vaylats too, the misery of the countryside was such that Father Liausu called them “the girls of the countryside“. What a wonderful idea on the part of Mother Marie de Saint Charles to write to the Superior of Vaylats! The Holy Spirit was at work. Thank you all.”
Claudette, Gérard and Marie Pierre, Lay Associates of Vaylats
Testimonials from those involved
“I have experienced something intense and rich during these three years. I’ve got to know the ‘Daughters of Jesus’ and found that you are a treasure trove of faith and generosity. The Sisters still have a place and a role to play in rural life. The success we’ve had is because you’re deeply rooted in the town here.”
Philippe Le Pays du Teilleul, Director
“I discovered the history and life of the Sisters of Kermaria. I found it to be an open environment. What a richness, working with a director, sharing skills and ideas. It was a powerful experience and I’m happy to have done it with a lot of heart, aiming for a certain perfection.
We sometimes had to sacrifice personal taste and accept the opinions of others. It made for a lot of teamwork but I’m happy!”
Daniel Laurent, Prop Master for the show
“I was very honoured and proud to play the role of Mother Marie de St Charles. I was a bit apprehensive at first, because I was afraid that I wouldn’t be up to the job, but that quickly faded away. It was a real challenge for me, but it brought me a lot of happiness, joy and emotion at every moment. I stayed motivated right up to the show! This role allowed me to get to know this extraordinary woman who did so much for the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus.”
Béatrice Le Gouëllec who played Mother Marie de St Charles in her maturity
“It was a wonderful life experience that I was happy to see through to the end, despite all the ups and downs. I admired the skill and creativity of the people and the sets. The presence of the folk groups added to the sparkle of the show.”
Anne Marie Josse, in the role of Sr Marie Charlotte
“I was delegated to do the communication for the show, and I operated the console for the rehearsals. I was able to contribute my knowledge in this way and learn a lot. The most important thing however, that I’ll take away from this show is having played the role of Sister Isidore, who carried the statue of Saint Joseph, the great patron saint of Kermaria, with the support of the Sisters. I saw the history of the Congregation reflected in some very beautiful encounters with the Sisters and in how they shared their savoir faire.”
Sandrine Mercier, in the role of Sister Isidore
“When the roles were cast, I obtained that of Father Coëffic. It was a great experience that certainly demanded a lot of time and investment but, as Father Coëffic would have said, ”This festival was a good time to meet, relax, exchange and share together, it was a joy for everyone”. For me, it was also a way of paying tribute to the Daughters of Jesus who taught me and enabled me to be the teacher that I am today.”
Roland Allain, in the role of Father Coëffic
“What a pleasure it is to play the role of an important figure in a show like this: the mayor of Bignan, the birthplace of the Daughters of Jesus. For me, as a former mayor of Bignan myself, it was a wonderful page in local history that was played out, and what’s more, it was a pleasure to get to know and work alongside the many volunteer actors in the ‘Mystery of Kermaria’.”
Louis Morio, in the role of the Mayor of Bignan
“I was delighted to take part in the “The Mystery of Kermaria” project. Taking part in this show was a way for me of recognising the immense work of Mother Marie de Saint Charles and all our predecessors. It was a joy to see so many different actors so deeply motivated, as well as the volunteers working behind the scenes, the director and Marie-Andrée Servel, the initiator and overall coordinator of the project. No one calculated their time or effort. We followed the example of Mother Marie de Saint Charles and persevered in the face of so many difficulties!”
Sister Marie-Thérèse Picard fj, in the role of Sr Agnès
“The show, “The Mystery of Kermaria“, interested me as soon as it was announced, because I always loved doing drama, both as a schoolgirl and as a teacher, with my pupils in the last year of primary school.”
I enjoyed the rehearsals and getting to know many of the actors and actresses, not forgetting the children who gave their all and took their roles very seriously. They were happy and unforgettable moments.”
Sister Maryvonne Gru, in the role of Sister Marie Théophile
“Thanks again to everyone!
And when can we expect another show?
Sr Agnès Miquel, fj