The story of The King’s Daughters is well known. In the 1600s, around 800 women immigrated from France to what is now Montreal. The women were known as “les filles du roi” as they were sent there by Louis XIV in order to boost population.
Until now we heard a lot about these women, but a new musical aims to offer us a new perspective. This time we will hear the story told by the people who were already living there: Indigenous people.
“In the history books, you understand it from the European perspective, and that is that these women came over to this land that was open and vast but didn’t have any people living on it,” said Corey Payette, director, composer and book and lyric co-writer of Les Filles du Roi.
Telling a new story
In this musical we will follow Kateri, a Mohawk girl, as well as her brother Jean-Baptiste. Their lives are changed when the newcomers arrive, and they become close with one of them, Marie-Jean Lespérance. “But we never hear the side of the story from the Indigenous people. So we thought, what a fantastic vehicle to be able to indigenize this story,” explained Payette.
The musical is in three different languages, English French and a Mohawk dialect called Kanien’kéha, but there will be surtitles. The piece was commissioned by Fugue Theatre and presented by Fugue, Payette’s Raven Theatre, Urban Ink (Payette is Artistic Director) and the Cultch. There are 15 performers, including a six woman chorus and four onstage musicians,
“Today, we talk about how diverse Canada is,” Payette said. “But back in the 1600s we were still as diverse, we had hundreds of Indigenous cultures all living within the same territory,” Payette concluded.