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Produced by National Arts Centre Théâtre français

Video interviews with theatre practitioners

© Sophie Grenier
Robert Lepage - (portrait)

Robert Lepage

A Quebec artist who is very active on the international scene, Robert Lepage invented a stage language that defies boundaries. After graduating from the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec, he joined the Théâtre Repère where he explored a method of collective creation, as perfected by Jacques Lessard and based on a Californian method: REsource, Partition, Evaluation, REpresentation – hence the acronym REPERE. In 1985, he created La Trilogie des dragons, a six-hour epic that laid the foundations of his hybrid approach to theatre. La Trilogie is a weaving together of acting, music, video projections, and technological discoveries fused with a dramaturgy based on images and metaphors, where a sandbox can become a parking lot, a garden, or a battlefield. Known around the world for his creations – Les Aiguilles et l'Opium (1991), Les Sept Branches de la rivière Ota (1997), La Face cachée de la lune (2000) – this “work in progress” enthusiast frequently mounts Shakespeare, produces feature films, acts on screen, and directs operas and concerts, such as Peter Gabriel’s. In 1994, he founded his company Ex Machina, currently housed in a renovated fire hall in Quebec City.

Watch a video recording of a press conference with Robert Lepage discussing Le Projet Andersen at the National Arts Centre on March 27, 2006.v (In French)

Marie-Pierre Simard

Marie-Pierre works regularly as a puppeteer, designer, and artisan with the Théâtre de l’Oeil. A graduate of the prestigious École supérieure nationale des arts de la marionnette (ESNAM) de Charleville-Mézières in France, she manipulates, designs, and creates puppets for various companies. Her creations have been featured in many shows, including La Félicité (Dear Fizzy) by Simon Boudreault (2000), Tsuru (2000) by Anne-Marie Théroux, and L’Oeil de Rosinna (Rosinna’s Eye)(1999) by the Théâtre Incliné.

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Julie Charland

After receiving her theatre training at the Cégep de Sainte-Thérèse, Julie created the costumes for many plays directed by Brigitte Haentjens, such as La Cloche de verre (The Bell Jar) (2004) adapted from Sylvia Plath, L’Éden Cinema (Eden Cinema) (2002) by Marguerite Duras, and Hamletmachine (2001) by Heiner Müller. Among her achievements are the costumes for Dévoilement devant notaire by Dominique Parenteau-Leboeuf, directed by Marc Béland; Transit - Section No 20 (2000) by Alexis Martin at the Nouveau Théâtre Expérimental; and L’Hiver de force (2000) adapted from Réjean Ducharme, directed by Lorraine Pintal at the TNM.

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Anick LaBissonnière

Since 1993, Anick has worked with Brigitte Haentjens on a number of productions, notably La Cloche de verre (The Bell Jar) (2004) adpated from Sylvia Plath and L’Éden Cinéma (Eden Cinema) (2002) by Marguerite Duras. She has designed sets for several companies such as Omnibus, Dynamo, Carbone 14, and the Théâtre en l’Air. She studied architecture at the École d’architecture of the University of Montréal and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in art studies and practices at the University of Quebec in Montreal. Anick has taken part in the creation and study of various architectural projects for theatres such as the Maison Théâtre, Théâtre Denise-Pelletier, and Espace Libre.

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Joël Beddows

Director, translator, and playwright Joël Beddows has been the artistic director of the Théâtre la Catapulte in Ottawa since 1998. In 2004, he received a Masque Award for the best Franco-Ontarian production and the theatre prize from Le Droit newspaper for his direction of Le Testament du couturier (2003) by Michel Ouellette as well as for his high standards as an artistic director over the past five years. He is also an associate professor in the Theatre Department at the University of Ottawa.

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Marie Gignac

A key figure in the theatre milieu of Quebec’s Capital City, Marie Gignac is also co-director of the Carrefour International de théâtre de Québec. As an actress and designer, she collaborated in La Trilogie des dragons (The Dragon’s Trilogy) (1985), Les Plaques tectoniques (Tectonic Plates) (1988), and Les Sept branches de la rivière Ota (The Seven Branches of the River Ota) (1997) by Robert Lepage. She also played in Le Roi se meurt (Exit the King) (2000) by Ionesco at the théâtre de la Bordée and in Les trois sœurs (The Three Sisters) (2000) by Tchekhov at the Théâtre du Trident.

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Claude Poissant

Artistic director and co-founder of the Théâtre Petit à Petit (PàP), Claude Poissant is a director, actor, and playwright. He has directed his own plays, notably Si tu meurs je te tue (1993) and Les Enfants d’Irène (2000), as well as the works of other Quebec playwrights such as Jean-François Caron, Anne Legault, Michel Marc Bouchard, Hélène Pedneault, Jean-Frédéric Messier, and Jasmine Dubé.

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Denis Marleau

Artistic Director, French Theatre

Denis Marleau joined the National Arts Centre in December, 2000. As cofounder of the creative company Théâtre UBU, he has directed almost thirty productions for the stage, “whose common denominator is a fierce dedication to the spirit of their author,” according to Raymonde Temkine, writing in the Dictionnaire encyclopédique du théâtre, published by Larousse-Bordas.

His first performance-collages, in the ’80s, were mostly presented in galleries and museums, both here and abroad – in Montreal at the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts; in Paris at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and the Centre Georges-Pompidou – and invoked the historic and artistic avant-garde of the 20th-century ( Coeur à Gaz & autres textes DADA, Picasso Théâtre, Luna-Park 1913, Merz Opéra, and Merz Variétés). Deeply committed to theatre that constantly questions the very fabric of its performance, language and philosophy, he approaches the stage as “a stranger in a strange land,” in productions like Oulipo Show, Ubu cycle and Les Ubs. The latter two productions, from the theatrical texts and other writings of Alfred Jarry, clearly show the links between Jarry and Marleau, in their shared intent to create theatre that goes beyond the usual norms and conventions of modern theatre.

During the ’90s, he drew much of his dramatic material from the German tradition, beginning with Büchner’s Woyzeck at the Théâtre National de la Communauté Française de Belgique, and following up with Wedekind’s Lulu at the TNM. In 1995, his adaptation of Maîtres anciens by Thomas Bernhard, which won four “Masque” awards from the Académie Québécoise du Théâtre, cemented Marleau’s reputation in Europe with its major European tour. Two years later, he was invited to open the Festival d’Avignon with a production of Lessing’s Nathan le sage, presented in the Cour d’Honneur of the Papal Palace. And in 1999, in Weimar –that year’s “cultural capital of Europe” – he presented Urfaust, tragédie subjective by Goethe and Pessoa.

Marleau’s unflagging interest in all forms of contemporary expression constantly leads him to develop surprising collaborations, unexpected overlappings with the other arts: music, dance, and the visual arts. He put on several plays by Beckett, among them the “dramaticules” and Pas moi, brought together under the title Cantate grise, as well as La Dernière bande. He worked with the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne on La Trahison orale, one of Mauricio Kagel’s celebrated “plays with music.” At the Festival of the Americas, he directed Roberto Zucco by Bernard-Marie Koltès, which inaugurated his definitive collaboration on stage design with sculptor Michel Goulet. His explorations in video “at the service of the character” resulted in one of the most striking productions of his career: Les trois derniers jours de Fernando Pessoa by Fernando Tabucchi, which played in France, Italy, Germany and Portugal. Last year he began a Maeterlinck cycle, which opened in January with Intérieur, at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, and continues, until winter 2002, with Les Aveugles, an

installation-performance presented as part of a program of creative residency at Montreal’s Museum of Modern Art. For several years, Quebec writing for the stage has been a new development in the theatrical journey of Denis Marleau, who has twice successfully put on the works of Normand Chaurette at the Avignon Festival: Le Passage de l'Indiana and Le Petit Köchel. He staged Catoblépas, the first play by novelist Gaétan Soucy, as a co-production with the French Theatre in the Studio of the NAC.

Denis Marleau has given a number of workshops in this country, among others at the Université de Moncton, as well as in France, Italy and Belgium. He has also collaborated on numerous publications on art and theatre, including JEU, Puck and the Magazine du Centre Georges-Pompidou.

Read an English translation of the interview