“Tram’Drames is staged in English and French, for locals and tourists alike,” Viki says. “We see this as a reflection of Geneva’s interplay between the two languages.”
The actors bring six standalone stories to life, changing roles throughout. “All of the transitions happen in plain sight of the audience, so we change physical and vocal elements and use different props to convey these different characters to the audience,” Viki explains.
“The most challenging role change is actually becoming a narrator,” she says. “You have to be neutral yet engaging, but not so interesting that people think you’re a character in the story.”
The production is in collaboration with the association that keeps the historic trams running, the Association Genevoise du Musée des Tramways. “Members of the association drive the trams, and we’re also in close coordination with TPG, Geneva’s transport authority, so we can operate smoothly with the regular trams,” says Viki.
With both French- and English-speaking casts, the actors work together to synchronise their productions, and also for inspiration. “Everyone rehearses with their counterparts in the other language, and we give each other really valuable feedback,” Viki explains. “While the Director speaks only French, he directs our English version based on the rhythm and feel he perceives.”
The English-speaking actors were recruited from the Renegade Saints, as well as GEDS, the Geneva English Drama Society. Viki acts as a liaison between the groups, running auditions, proofreading materials, and helping adapt the production to linguistic and cultural differences between French and English.