Robert Lepage
Théâtre du Soleil Kanata – Episode I – La Controverse

[Theatre]

This production sees, for the very first time in the fifty-four years of its history, Ariane Mnouchkine handing over the Théâtre du Soleil troupe to an invited director - Canada’s Robert Lepage. The latter has conjured up a piece which pieces together fragments of a far-reaching epic spanning two hundred years of history in his native land. “Kanata”, the Iroquois word for “village”, gave its name to Canada and cements, through the intermediary of the actors, this encounter between two of theatre’s foremost directors. Humanists, above all, the duty of the artist to reflect the era they live in is a conviction shared by them both

« Ottawa
A painting. Mysterious and beautiful. An Indian girl from Canada. An Aboriginal. There is splendour in her regard, it draws us in irresistibly; it is the regard of an empress.. She has a name: Josephte Ourné. The painter also has one. Joseph Légaré. Another painting by this same Légaré: Landscape with a speaker addressing the Indians. This speaker, we are told is Edmund Kean, the actor, Theatre personified, all dressed in black like a pastor. What is he doing here before a small group of attentive Hurons? Is he colonizer or merely preacher? Is he
reciting Shakespeare? Is he Invader? Peddlar? Or actor? Or is he, as is the fact, a womanizer in priestly robes, whom a prudish and hypocritical public has hounded from his homeland and forced into exile. Pursued by censure everywhere he settles, from Canada to Quebec, forever dogged by his female entanglements, until he meets the Hurons. They will love him, make him an honorary chief and even give him a name: Alanienouidet; which roughly means snowflakes swirling in a gust of wind, supposedly a description of his acting style.
Leyla Farrokhzad, the curator of the Museum, and Jacques Pelletier, curator of the Quai Branly. have taught us all this and, whatever they may think, they are not done yet with these portraits and adventures.
British Columbia
An impressive, serene forest. A long house. Enter some loggers. Chainsaws howl.
Vancouver
A "friendly popular" neighbourhood, or so it appears to Miranda and Ferdinand, she a young painter and he a keen young actor. They have just moved into the loft of their dreams, rented from a Chinese woman. Here we get to know this neighbourhood. Needle Park , centre of the drug underworld. We meet Rosa, the social worker, Tanya, the heroin addict. We go to the police station. Women have disappeared. Aboriginals all.
The environs of Vancouver
A pigsty. A man drinks his beer. The squealing of pigs as they eat.
Vancouver and what follows
Theatre will show how, but suffice to say for now that Tanya and Miranda meet and that the latter senses certain responsibilities. We also come to know that Tanya is adopted and that she speaks Persian with her adoptive mother. The world is decidedly small, and the serial killer is close by. And then there is Tobie trying to make a documentary about this "so nice and popular" neighbourhood.
The theatre will reveal how. And then there is the controversy. »
Ariane Mnouchkine, September 2018
––––––
Estimated running time : 2h30 intermission included