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Produced by National Arts Centre Théâtre français

Welcome & About Us

Message from Peter Herrndorf,
President and Chief Executive Officer, National Arts Centre

Peter Herrndorf

Welcome to – French Theatre. This module is the third component of, the National Arts Centre's performing arts Web site. In February 2002 we launched the site's first Web component, - Music, and in March of the following year, it was the turn of the – English Theatre module . Since the public greeted these first two components enthusiastically and passionately, we have good reason to hope that you will equally appreciate this new addition to our site.

Thanks to generous support from Department of Canadian Heritage and TELUS, our sponsors, we have created an innovative site: several sections of – Music are interactive, enabling students and teachers to learn more about the performing arts. You should enjoy this French Theatre component with its practical advice, its testimonials by performing artists, its encyclopaedic approach and the access it offers to the most interesting happenings in contemporary theatre around the world. And there is more to follow! Soon we'll be adding a fourth module devoted to dance.

At the National Arts Centre, we are committed to education and, above all, to the artistic dreams of our young people. We are pleased to be working with partners who support us in this necessary undertaking, communicating our nation's artists' knowledge and know-how.

Indeed, the aim of – French Theatre is simple: if you are unfamiliar with the theatre, we want to help you discover it. If you are already familiar with it, we want to help you pursue your knowledge and especially your creative dreams. This is why we are making the site available to you—so that the world of tomorrow makes more room for the pleasure and cultural enrichment that come from the arts and we hope to receive your feedback very soon.

- Peter Herrndorf

A Message from Denis Marleau,
Artistic Director of the National Arts Centre’s French Theatre

Denis Marleau

Welcome to the educational website of the National Arts Centre’s French Theatre.

As its name implies, is intended to be a comprehensive introduction to theatre as it lives and breathes today. Even though theatre boasts a long and proud tradition, it is thanks to its current boldness and daring that it remains an art that is alive and essential.

Doing theatre. Attending theatre. Experiencing theatre to increase our imagination. These are the three axis of our website. We invite you to discover the prodigious diversity of this art. You will, of course, be able to find specific information. But I encourage you to plunge in and lose yourself in the variety of information provided: jump from a contemporary director to a Renaissance actress, from a theatre company in Berlin to an author in Ottawa, from a Montreal puppeteer to a Japanese play. Click on all the links which are your ticket for a voyage to unique, unusual, and astonishing theatrical worlds.

Theatre is a performance art that is at once innovative and archaic. It can don the masks of Greek tragedies as well as those of the most complex video experiments. But what distinguishes theatre first and foremost, is that the performance space is inhabited by men and women of today. Voices and bodies of different shapes and sizes that come together to remind us of the fragility of our everyday life and the beauty of our world as told through the words of our present times and of the past. Theatre is not an art that is practiced in front of an audience, but with it: theatre is, essentially, an encounter.

The National Arts Centre’s French Theatre

Since its founding in 1969, the National Arts Centre’s French Theatre has maintained a high standard of quality, thanks to its impressive list of artistic directors: Jean-Guy Sabourin, Jean Herbiet, André Brassard, Robert Lepage, artistic advisor Jean-Claude Marcus, and, since December 2000, Denis Marleau.

A number of major international theatre productions have been staged over the course of the NAC’s history. It is with the French Theatre that two of Michel Tremblay’s greatest works were premiered – Bonjour là, bonjour and Albertine, en cinq temps (Albertine in Five Times) – and that Jean Herbiet directed his famous productions of Songe (A Dream Play) by Strindberg and of Woyzeck by Büchner, featuring Félix Mirbt’s puppets. It is also with the French Theatre that Robert Lepage created Les Aiguilles et l’Opium (Needles and Opium). Denis Marleau, thanks to carefully chosen partnerships, has also succeeded in increasing the French Theatre’s international reputation: for instance, in March, 2004, Moine noir (The Black Monk), adapted from Tchekhov by Denis Marleau, premiered in Mons, Belgium, and toured several cities in Belgium and France before being presented in Ottawa, Québec City, and Montréal. The show then returned to Europe in fall, 2004.

The French Theatre offers the public a selection of productions in step with today’s world, a theatre grappling with the forces of dramatic art from here and abroad, a theatre that participates in the development and renewal of directing and playwriting. This artistic vision comes to life thanks to the shows we present, as well as our own creations, which give the CNA’s French Theatre its distinct voice.

We present plays written by local playwrights as well as contemporary and classic works. Every season (September to May), we feature five plays at the Théâtre (850 seats), four at the Studio (290 seats, variable configurations), as well as a six-show children’s series. We also present readings accompanied by musicians in the Quatrième Salle (150 seats, cabaret-style). Lastly, we have productions which we call Inclassables (Unclassifiable), which are either highly unusual pieces or shows presented in unexpected venues.

Our desire to imagine and create a theatre of the moment is also reflected in our para-theatrical activities, such as our publication, Cahiers du Théâtre français, get-togethers with the audience, master classes for theatre professionals (Les Laboratoires duThéâtre français), and the creation of this educational website.

The National Arts Centre

National Arts Centre

Conceived as a major project of the Federal Government as part of the Centennial celebrations, the National Arts Centre (CNA) opened its doors on June 2, 1969. Since then, it has played an important role in the development of the performing arts in Canada.

Located in Ottawa, close to Parliament Hill, the NAC is an impressive arts complex comprising four halls: other than the afore-mentioned Théâtre, Studio, and Fourth Stage, there is also Southam Hall, with 2,300 seats. The NAC houses four artistic divisions: the National Arts Centre French Theatre, English Theatre, Dance, and Orchestra. It features local musicians in its Fourth Stage as well. The National Arts Centre also plays host to the Canada Dance Festival and Magnetic North Festival, and to the producer of the Zones Théâtrales festival.

National Arts Centre New Media

The National Arts Centre's New Media group is a small team creating online projects which help fulfill the NAC's national mandate. NAC New Media uses today's as well as tomorrow's technologies to engage, inform and entertain arts lovers across Canada and around the world.

NAC New Media works with the NAC's programming and education departments to create compelling content for the National Arts Centre's websites, among them:

Hexagon is the NAC's research and development project, which leverages next-generation broadband videoconferencing to extend the reach of the NAC's interactive outreach programmes. Tele-mentoring, education outreach, and audience development are explored using ultrafast networks like Canada's CA*net4 and Internet2 in the US.

NAC New Media acknowledges the tremendous support of the Department of Canadian Heritage and our technology partners the National Research Council.

This website is produced by:

National Arts Centre French Theatre

National Arts Centre New Media French Theatre team:

Manager, : Anna Calvesbert

Content Advisor, NAC French Theatre: Paul Lefebvre

Content Coordinator, French Theatre: Françoise Boudreault

Writers: Geneviève Blais, Amélie Dumoulin, Françoise Boudreault, Paul Lefebvre and Christian Saint-Pierre

Imagery reseacher : Mireille Brullemans

Translators : Jeffrey Moore, Kelly Ricard, Andrée Tait

Web developer: Jason Westerlund

Members of the – Théâtre français team who were able to attend the launch event on October 19, 2004. Left to right: Martin Jones (NAC New Media), Fred Samné (NAC New Media), Geneviève Blais (writer), Christian Saint-Pierre (writer), Françoise Boudreault (coordinator), Paul Lefebvre (Assistant to the Artistic Director, NAC French Theatre), Maurizio Ortolani (Producer, NAC New Media), Mireille Brullemans (imagery researcher), Andrée McNamara-Tait (translator) and Anna Calvesbert (Manager,