Jean Pierre & the Old Witch

Jean Pierre & the Old Witch

An authentic French Canadian fairytale

This interactive story is told in English with the voice of Jean Pierre spoken in a blend of French and English.


Angela as Jean Pierre


Angela as the witch

Jean Pierre and the Old Witch, is an authentic French Canadian fairytale collected over a hundred years ago in Quebec.

 In it we meet the young man, Jean Pierre, who leaves his father’s house to seek his fortune. He becomes lost in the old forest, finds a ruined castle and meets its mistress, the Old Witch.

This is a story of Jean Pierre’s encounter with the witch, discovering one of her secrets in a forbidden room and his flight and eventual escape from her domain on the back of a magical, talking, white horse.

Educational Component: Discussion of oral tradition and fairytales, (one of the kernels of literacy) and the origin of the Jean Pierre story. A discussion of how music is used in film and theatre to create atmosphere in the story, enhance the action, colour the words, show emotions, and propel the plot. French content.

” This story is an enriching interdisciplinary work for young audiences, informative as well as entertaining.” Heather Duff (Artistic Director) Vancouver Youth Theatre


Further Notes written by Holly Duff (West Coast Chamber Music, Vancouver B.C.)

Most children’s entertainment uses amplified pop-style music, a prominent component of mainstream culture. What is somewhat unique here is the opportunity for children to experience, which for many is rare, live acoustic classical music and witness its wide ranging expressivity as a vehicle for narrative. With the piano and music making  situated at “centre stage”, as opposed to being in an orchestral pit as in most large scale dance productions, the audience can see as well as hear the music being produced, and therefore better notice and appreciate its relationship to the movement and the story.

Authentic oral tradition is all but lost in today’s technological world. Listening to traditional stories activates young imaginations more immediately and directly than almost any other medium. Fairytales can be considered dreamscapes of an entire culture which speak in the language of the unconscious. Therefore, they are universal in their appeal. Jean Pierre is everyman, the hero, who encounters and struggles with the witch and the darkness of her domain. These characters are archetypes that resonate with all ages. Stories such as Jean Pierre and the Old Witch are powerful because they teach us what it is to be human, and potent because they do not teach with the head, but with the heart.