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Jacques Lalonde returning to his No. 1 favourite arts festival

Vancouver actor bringing heartfelt one-man plays and comedy workshops back to Whistler
Jacques lalonde flag stop 2
Vancouver actor Jacques Lalonde is bringing his one-man shows and comedy workshops back to Whistler’s Flag Stop Theatre and Arts Festival next week.

It’s fair to say Jacques Lalonde is a big fan of arts festivals. 

Over the past few decades, the Vancouver actor has “literally performed at just about every major festival in British Columbia,” he explains, from Surrey to Prince Rupert to Nanaimo to the Sunshine Coast and everywhere in between. Well, almost everywhere. 

“Somehow, I had managed to not know about Flag Stop Festival until last year, which was its 10th,” says Lalonde (who, it should be noted, is of no relation to the writer of this article).

Despite some heavy bribery from the Vancouver Fringe Festival—after 33 consecutive appearances on the Fringe Fest stage, Lalonde is the only performer to ever earn a lifetime achievement award from the festival—one year at Whistler’s Flag Stop was enough for Lalonde to proclaim it his “favourite festival of all time.” 

“I loved the energy,” says Lalonde, citing the warm-hearted audience and community feel, quality content and floating stage. “I mean, Stephen Vogler [artistic director of the Point Artist-Run Centre, which produces the annual event] is a genius.”

Lalonde loved the weekend-long festival so much he wanted more. 

“We said, ‘This is a lot of work to do for two days, Stephen. I mean, you’ve got the sound system here, you’ve got everything—why not make it a slightly bigger festival?’” he recalls.

Lalonde will get his wish when Flag Stop returns for its 11th iteration, scheduled to take place over five days next week from Aug. 1 to 6. “I’m excited,” says Lalonde, “because it’s going be five or six days of just crazy, cool theatre, dance, music madness.”

The catch? The actor is now tasked with helping fill up the festival’s lengthy schedule, with his name found scattered throughout the multi-day lineup. But while the Flag Stop is expanding, Lalonde will instead have to shrink down his material. “Basically, I’ve taken two 75-minute plays and turned them into 15- or 20-minute plays,” he explains. 

Lalonde will make his 2022 Flag Stop debut when he steps onto the festival’s brand-new Rebagliati Park stage on Monday, Aug. 1 at 8:30 p.m. to perform Stroke of Luck, his comedic one-man show about his recovery from the stroke he suffered on Canada Day 2013. Lalonde previously reworked the play into a Ted Talk he dubbed “The Healing Power of Creativity.”

He’ll return to the park’s stage in Whistler Village at the same time the following evening with a second one-man play, The Unbreakable Popsicle Stick Gang. This heartfelt comedy is about Lalonde’s mom, who he credits for his humour. In particular, it’s about her life, her battle with brain cancer, and the miracle that results in Lalonde’s family (and the audience) celebrating her 94th birthday—it may or may not involve chocolate cake. 

On the third day of the festival, Lalonde will take his talents off the stage to host a pair of workshops, which he started teaching for the National Film Board back in 1991. The first, “Dragons & The Creative Process,” is scheduled to take place from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 3. It’s a kids-specific crash course where aspiring artists will learn to create their own stories, poems or songs, and “have more fun with creativity.”

An adult workshop will follow from 2 to 4 p.m., when Lalonde will condense his usual four-week course into a two-hour intro session to help students develop their humour, from improv to storytelling, and “start to see the comedy in their everyday life,” he says. 

“Because when you start to see the world as a musical comedy, then it’s just a nicer place. Not everyone’s going be Robin Williams, but everyone can be a little bit funnier at a party, or tell a good story every once in a while. It’s just getting people to get out of themselves and start sharing more.”

Adds Lalonde, “We all need kindness right now, and we need to listen to each other’s stories, but in order to listen to each other’s stories, we need people to share their stories.”

(Workshop registration fees are $25 for adults and $15 for kids. Contact thepointinfo@gmail.com to claim your spot.) 

After the workshops wrap for the day, Lalonde will make an appearance as an “art curator” in Wednesday’s pop-up performance bike ride. 

Aside from those commitments, audiences can expect to find Lalonde roving around the festival in character for the remainder of the week as he reprieves his hilariously devilish role from last year’s Flag Stop Festival, this time with a family-friendly twist. 

In an effort to avoid frightening any children in attendance, “I’m going get some makeup, I’m going give myself a dog nose—like a clown nose—and I’m going to put an eye patch around my eye. And I’m going to be a devil dog,” he explains. “So I’ll still be the devil, but I’ll also be a dog.”

For more information about Flag Stop, visit thepointartists.com/events.html