Needles and opium back at the NAC !

Ottawa, 12 May 2015 - Twenty-four years after its première at the NAC, the Robert Lepage masterpiece Les aiguilles et lopium will be back at the Théâtre français after enjoying worldwide success. “This new version revisits the past,” Lepage explained. “The perspective of maturity adds more sensuality, emotion and humanity to the piece. The show still has the same heart, but the body has changed.” It comes with a fascinating new set design that Robert Lepage handles with dazzling dexterity. The emblematic solo of 1991 is transformed in the hands of Marc Labrèche, who makes the many nuances of Jean Cocteau’s writing resonate. He is joined by the acrobat Wellesley Robertson III, who brings Miles Davis alive to a haunting jazz score.

Les aiguilles et lopium will be presented at the Théâtre français from May 19 to 23 at 7:30 p.m. It will then be presented in English by the NAC English Theatre from May 27 to June 6.

Simply remounting the piece is not enough. I felt that it had to be deepened, that the script needed to be improved and refined. For when feelings of love and relational conflicts are involved, there are some things that we only understand much later in life. I like to think that this current version of Aiguilles et l’opium is stronger and more mature.

Robert Lepage, creator

One night in 1949, above the Atlantic Ocean between Paris and New York, the paths of the poet Jean Cocteau and the jazz musician Miles Davis cross in the sky. They don’t suspect that years later their ocean crossing will echo the flight of a Quebec actor who takes refuge in a hotel room in Paris to mend a broken heart. Based on that situation and its hidden connections, Robert Lepage presents a series of variations, each with reverberating echoes. The absence of a loved one – Radiguet for the poet, Juliette Gréco for the musician – finds a counterpoint in an addiction to opium for the one, and to heroin for the other, as the narrator seeks to anaesthetize his sorrow.

The return of Les aiguilles et de lopium to the NAC is the occasion for an exceptional collaboration between the Théâtre français and the English Theatre of the NAC. The show will be presented first in French and then in English. For the first time since 2009, the two theatres are co-presenting a performance. Back then they collaborated on another piece by Robert Lepage, Le Dragon bleu.


With this revised Aiguilles et l’opium, Robert Lepage offers us a pure moment of ecstasy. 

Jean Siag, La Presse

Les aiguilles et l’opium, a somewhat surrealistic dream, takes us to a sweet and exotic reverie where ideas, sensations and images flash by. And like opium (according to Cocteau), it allows us to momentarily slip away from the rush of life.

Marie Laliberté, Le Devoir

To enter into the universe of Robert Lepage is to penetrate into another world, one we want to stay in, so strong is the impression it leaves very moving and enduring. An aesthetic rapture created by a master of illusions, in mid air.

La Croix


Written and directed by: Robert Lepage // the script includes excerpts from Lettre aux Américains and Opium by Jean Cocteau // with Marc Labrèche and Wellesley Robertson III // assistant director: Normand Bissonnette // set design: Carl Fillion // props design: Claudia Gendreau // music and sound design: Jean-Sébastien Côté // lighting design: Bruno Matte // costume design: François St-Aubin // images: Lionel Arnould // production manager: Julie Marie Bourgeois // automation consultant: Tobie Horswill // video consultant: Catherine Guay // makeup: Jean Bégin // costume creation: Carl Bezanson and Julie Sauriol // set construction: Scène Éthique and Astuce Décors // trumpet played by Craig L. Pedersen // acrobatics consultants: Geneviève Bérubé, Yves Gagnon, Jean-Sébastien Fortin and Jean-François Faber

Producted by / Ex Machina

Co-produced by / Théâtre du Trident, Canadian Stage, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Adelaide Festival, New Zealand Festival, Le Grand T-théâtre de Loire-Atlantique, Les Quinconces-L’espal/scène conventionnée danse, théâtres du Mans, Célestins-Théâtre in Lyon and the Volcan-scène nationale du Havre

NAC Presentation: Théâtre français in collaboration with NAC English Theatre and Magnetic North Theatre Festival

Duration: 1h40, no intermission