By Marcelle Paulin for the Rural Community of Cocagne website

August 18th 2015


Les femmes de Coeur, are women from Cocagne and the region who write, direct and act in their own plays. Have you heard of Madame Yvonne? She was created from Dianna Goguen’s and Bernice LeBlanc’s imagination and was inspired by Dianna’s mother. Yvonne was the name of both the authors’ mothers and thus Mrs. Yvonne was born and baptised.

But how did these ladies become Les femmes de Coeur? Here is an interview with one of the pioneers of the troupe, Mrs. Dianna Goguen.

M.P. “Hello Dianna, I would like you to tell me the story about Les femmes de Coeur.”

D.G. “I’ve always been interested in the theatre. At a young age when I attended some sessions, as they were called at that time, I was fascinated by the people on stage. Being very shy, I was in awe as I watched them perform. I knew by the age of 5 or 6 I had the bug.”

Dianna was a French teacher and she often created plays with her students. The desire to act in a play at least once in her life continued to fester. She confided to her good friend, Yolande Poirier, that this could be a good retirement project. Dianna is a cancer survivor. The disease changed her view on life and the rapidity at which time passes. So she convinced her friend to embark on this adventure with her. They started looking for a play to direct. Here she is telling us the rest of the story…

D.G. “We were looking for a comedy but couldn’t find a play that seemed to work. We then decided to write our own play. Another friend of ours, Bernice LeBlanc, wrote the play with me. I took a trip with my mother and three sisters in search of inspiration. Each time a certain subject was brought up by my sisters or I, our mother, who has a great sense of humor, commented on how things were back in the day. For example, when we mentioned a tanning bed, mom said: “What’s a tanning bed? We worked in the garden and that’s where we got out tan.” It was by listening to my mother’s comments that the idea came to me to include a senior in the play, the famous Madame Yvonne.”

Dianna wrote four plays in collaboration with her friends Bernice LeBlanc and Yolande Poirier with Madam Yvonne as the main character. In their brand new play, Rose is new main character.

M.P. “Where does the inspiration for the new plays and characters that inhabit them come from?”

D.G “I thought about the idea for the play La vie en rose for a long time. When I come up with ideas like these I write them down in case I want to use them later. We find the characters by asking ourselves who should be there in that situation. Then wondered what the characters will say in terms of the personality we have given them. We want to make comedies but we want to send meaningful messages in our plays and in our everyday words. It is a type of burlesque theatre. People have compared us to Michel Tremblay, the author from Quebec. We tend to find actors in our community, like the Dames d’Acadie for example.”

M.P. “So here you are with a script but are still far from a public presentation. How did you manage the production, set decoration, lighting, sound, advertising, venue rental and ticket sales?”

D.G. “Our goal for the first play was to present it three times in front of an audience. We saw this as volunteer work because we agreed that the profits would go to a good cause. The play, Femme de coeurs, was presented 11 times and since we had the acting bug, we wanted to continue. We organized ourselves as follows: we receive an invitation from a non-profit or private organization. We, then, are responsible for presenting them the play and providing the set decor and costumes.  On their end, they take care of the venue along with the sound, lighting, publicity and ticket sales. For a non-profit organization, it is a way for them to do fundraising since we share the profits with them. Our goal is not to make money; we only keep enough to cover our expenses and allow us to continue.”

M.P. “It must take a lot of time to create a play?”

D.G. “Yes, a lot of time. When we presented the first plays some women in the group were still at work. For the play, La vie en rose the four comedians were retired so it was easier.”

The troupe will present their new play (play only) for their first time in Cocagne on August 26th 2015 and then still in Cocagne, in the format of a diner theatre, it will be presented on September 11, 2015. But let’s talk some more about that new creation from Les femmes de Coeur.

D.G. “The play showcases four women from Rose’s surroundings, her sister Gracia (Jeanne Goguen), her daughter Mylene (Stella Losier), her sister in-law Louise (Yvette Cormier) and her friend Dianne (Dianna Goguen). All are waiting on Rose’s biopsy results and each react in very different ways. We never see Rose, we only talk about her and the news that she is waiting for. There is a lot of humor but also much reflection.

What did her participation in this wonderful adventure bring to Dianna? A lot of confidence she said, because neither her nor her friends from the troupe expected such a success. The first four plays were performed a total of 225 times. They were presented in New-Brunswick, Prince-Edward Island, Quebec, the Magdalen Islands and St-Pierre and Miquelon. The performance in St-Pierre and Miquelon stemmed from a prize won by the play Bonne fête Mme Yvonne at the New-Brunswick Community Theatre Festival in 2012.

M.P. “Dianna, how do you see the future of Les femmes de Coeur?”

D.G. “I want to keep on writing that’s for sure. We would like to continue for as long as possible but you never know if people are going to like the play before it is presented. For this one, the general rehearsal went great and we already have eight shows scheduled.”

I thank you Ms Goguen for this marvelous moment spent in your company. Thank you and a nice hello to all of you from the troupe Les femmes de Coeur who allow us enjoy your talent and your marvelous joy of living. You are a real source of inspiration. Thank you!

Community theatre troupe Les femme de Coeur

Permanent members: Yvette Cormier, Dianna Goguen and Jeanne Goguen

The troupe’s works

2007, Femme de Coeur:

Text and stage production: Dianna Goguen and Yolande Poirier

Cast: Adrienne LeBlanc (as Jojo Laliberte), Yvette Cormier (Roberte Larousse), Carmelle Landry and Jeanne Goguen (Elisabeth Latendress), Gladys LeBlanc (Clemence Laliberte), Dianna Goguen (Germaine Lacourse), Yolande Poirier (Yvonne Patience and Leola Maillet and Isabelle Mazerolle (Stephanie Labeaute).

2009, Mme Yvonne entre au foyer

Text and stage production: Dianna Goguen and Yolande Poirier

Cast: Yolande Poirier (as Mme Yvonne), Gladys LeBlanc (Rose-Aime), Jeanne Goguen (Anita), Yvette Cormier (Ozite), Dianna Goguen (Claire), Isabelle Mazerolle (Stephanie) and Nicole Leger (Jojo).

2011-2012, Bonne fête Mme Yvonne

Text and stage production: Dianna Goguen and Yolande Poirier

Cast: Yolande Poirier (as Mme Yvonne), Gloria Arsenault (Edmee), Jeanne Goguen (Clarinda), Yvette Cormier (Rose-Alice), Dianna Goguen (Irene) and Nicole Leger (Jojo).

2013, Votez Mme Yvonne

Text: Dianna Goguen and Yolande Poirier

Stage production: Daniel Costonguay

Cast: Yolande Poirier (As Mme Yvonne), Jeanne Goguen (Anita), Yvette Cormier (Ozite), Dianna Goguen (Irene) and Nicole Leger and Adrienne Savoie (Jojo).

2015, La vie en rose

Text and stage production: Dianna Goguen and Bernice LeBlanc

Cast: Jeanne Goguen (Gracia, Rose’s sister), Stella Losier (Mylene, Rose’s daughter), Yvette Cormier (Louise, Rose’s sister in law), and Dianna Goguen (Diane, Rose’s friend).

Awards won by Les femmes de Coeur 

2008, Gemma Caron award awarded to the circle of the “Dames d’Acadie” by the Acadian French women federation. (NDLR. All the comedians of the play were members of the “Dames d’Acadie” of Cocagne.

2011, New-Brunswick community theatre Festival with the play Mme Yvonne entre au foyer: the best comedian in a leading role awarded to Yolande Poirier who played the role of Mme Yvonne, the best actrees in a supporting role went to Jeanne Goguen with the part of Anita.

2012, New-Brunswick community theatre Festival with the play Bonne fete Mme Yvonne: best production, “Coup de foudre” award (award by the public), best actress in a lead role awarded to Yolande Poirier who played the role of Mme Yvonne.