May 20, 2021 update on live performances and events at the NAC.

Kitsch is eating us
2010-2011 NAC French Theatre season

“Every era of disintegration of values
was also an era of kitsch.”

Hermann Broch

The National Arts Centre (NAC) French Theatre today announced its 2010–11 season, designed by Artistic Director Wajdi Mouawad. For his third season at the helm of French Theatre (following two seasons of truly memorable artistic encounters), the playwright, director and actor has lined up 18 productions, including three exclusive Canadian engagements and seven national and international coproductions.

For the 2010–11 season, Wajdi Mouawad and Benoît Vermeulen (Artistic Associate, Youth Program) have invited playwrights, directors and designers whose visionary practice explores the nature of theatre today. “To create theatre today, au jour dehui,’” notes Wajdi Mouawad, “is also to ask the curious question: What is this ‘hui’? What should I save from the disaster?”

French Theatre’s two previous seasons were presented under the banners Nous sommes en guerre/We are at war and Nous sommes en manque/We are in need, respectively. The catchphrase for 2010–11, which will accompany audiences on their theatrical journey throughout the season, is Le kitsch nous mange (“Kitsch is eating us”). Like a spotlight trained on our lives, this editorial phrase imparts a particular—and somewhat ironic!—flavour to the plays on the program, while photographs by Winnipeg visual artist Diana Thorneycroft capture and animate the spirit of the season.

“Every generation invents its own hungry monster
And is accountable for it.
What is our age accountable for?
What is devouring our age?”
Wajdi Mouawad

2010–11 SEASON HIGHLIGHTS

-        Exclusive Canadian engagements of two international productions: Les Justes, by Albert Camus (2010 marks the 50th anniversary of his death), directed by Stanislas Nordey (Rennes, France); and Vérité de soldat, by Jean?Louis Sagot?Duvauroux, based on Ma vie de soldat by Soungalo Samaké, directed by Patrick Le Mauff, a project initiated in Africa by Alioune Ifra Ndiaye to mark the 50th anniversary of Malian independence (Bamako, Mali).

-        Exclusive Canadian engagement of a unique literary evening: Mais que lit Stephen Harper ? (What Is Stephen Harper Reading?), recommended reading by Yann Martel, with distinguished Canadian celebrities (Ottawa, Canada).

-        Two foreign-language plays coproduced by French Theatre: Le Fusil de chasse (Tokyo, Japan), an epistolary novel by Yasushi Inoué adapted for the stage by Serge Lamothe, directed by François Girard (performed in Japanese with English and French surtitles); and Vérité de soldat (Bamako, Mali), a project initiated in Africa to mark the 50th anniversary of Malian independence (performed in Bambara with English and French surtitles).

-        Seven French Theatre coproductions: Personal Jesus, by Gaétan Nadeau (Montreal); Le Fusil de chasse, directed by François Girard (Tokyo); Moi qui me parle à moi-même dans le futur, by Marie Brassard (Vienna); Wolfe, by Emma Haché (Moncton); Vérité de soldat, directed by Patrick Le Mauff (Mali); [.          .], a new play by Wajdi Mouawad (Quebec); and Éclats et autres libertés, directed by Benoît Vermeulen (Montreal).

-        Two projects involving Emma Haché, French Theatre Associated Author since 2008–09: the world premiere of Wolfe (Moncton, NB) and a new stage adaptation of La Tempête (Bonaventure, NB).

-        Our first-ever show for very young audiences (18 months to 3 years): Le Spectacle de l’arbre, from Nathalie Derome’s Montreal-based children’s theatre company Des mots d’la dynamite.

-        A tale invented by a student at École secondaire de l’Île (Gatineau), David Le Quéré, presented as part of Les Zurbains 2010.

 

“The word ‘kitsch’ describes the attitude of those who want to please the greatest number, at any cost. To please, one must confirm what everyone wants to hear, put oneself at the service of received ideas.”
Milan Kundera 

THE 2010–11 FRENCH THEATRE SEASON

LES JUSTES
Albert Camus / Stanislas Nordey
September 28–October 2, 2010 in the Theatre
Exclusive North American engagement
Wartime drama by Albert Camus, directed by Stanislas Nordey, with Emmanuelle Béart, Vincent Dissez, Raoul Fernandez, Damien Gabriac, Frédéric Leidgens, Wajdi Mouawad, Véronique Nordey, Laurent Sauvage. Produced by Théâtre National de Bretagne, Compagnie Nordey and the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg.

Moscow, February 1905. A tiny revolutionary cell is plotting a terrorist attempt on the life of Grand Duke Sergei. Inspired by actual historical events, Albert Camus (1913–1960; 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of his death) asks one of the big questions of the modern age: Is political crime justifiable in the war against injustice?

Stanislas Nordey (who directed Incendies and appeared in Ciels) shares Wajdi Mouawad’s passion for new and unconventional adventures. His work reveals the deepest meanings of texts by authors both classic and contemporary, including Camus’ Les Justes which he is directing for the first time, with an impressive cast of actors.

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PERSONAL JESUS
Gaétan Nadeau / Jacques Brochu, Marie-Stéphane Ledoux
October 20–23, 2010 in the Studio
One-man show written and performed by Gaétan Nadeau, directed by Jacques Brochu and Marie?Stéphane Ledoux. Created and produced by Gaétan Nadeau through a creative residency at La Chapelle, coproduced by the NAC French Theatre.

Returning to Canada after a six?month visit to Rome, actor Gaétan Nadeau decides to turn his travel journal into his first one-man stage show. Blending anecdotes about the refined Italian way of life, excerpts from the brazen poetry of Pasolini, and dance segments, he paints a lavish portrait in which Donald Lautrec gives the eye to Saint Teresa and Michelangelo’s frescoes are reflected in the screen of a televised Sunday mass.

For the past 20 years, Gaétan Nadeau has led a multifaceted career as a playwright, actor (Woyzeck, Hippocampe), dancer and performer. He regularly collaborates with Jacques Brochu and Marie?Stéphane Ledoux on stage performances that combine innovative choreography, video and the spoken word.

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Le FUSIL DE CHASSE
Yasushi Inoué / François Girard
November 23–27, 2010 in the Theatre
Spectacle présenté en japonais avec surtitres français et anglais
Epistolary novel by Yasushi Inoué adapted for the stage by Serge Lamothe, directed by François Girard, with Rodrigue Proteau and Kyoka Suzuki. Produced by Parco Theater (Japan), Usine C (Montreal) and the NAC French Theatre.

A Japanese writer crafts a poem about a solitary hunter. One day, he receives a letter from a man claiming to be that hunter, and wanting to share three letters from three different women, each with her own particular take on the mysteries of love.

Le Fusil de chasse (The Hunting Rifle) earned Yasushi Inoue the 1950 Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s highest literary honour. Internationally renowned filmmaker François Girard (The Red Violin, Silk) is also an acclaimed director of opera, circus, and theatre (including Novecento and Le Procès, both presented by French Theatre).

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MOI QUI ME PARLE À MOI-MÊME DANS LE FUTUR
Marie Brassard
December 8–11, 2010 in the Studio
Poetic manifesto as surrealistic fictionalized autobiography, written and performed by Marie Brassard, with musicians Jonathan Parant and Alexandre St?Onge. Produced by Infrarouge in coproduction with the NAC French Theatre, Festival TransAmériques, and the Wiener Festwochen (Austria).

Inspired by events in her own life, and enlisting her signature stage vocabulary of manipulated sounds, voices and music, Marie Brassard revisits her past and the time before she knew the stories in which she played the lead. To present this elusive, almost operatic self-portrait, the author is joined onstage by two musicians.

No stranger to French Theatre, Marie Brassard has presented nearly all her solo shows here, including Jimmy, créature de rêve, La Noirceur, Peepshow, and L’Invisible.

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WOLFE
Emma Haché
February 16–19, 2011 in the Studio
Canadian heroic tragedy based on historical events, written and directed by Emma Haché, with a cast of 6 actors. Produced by Théâtre l’Escaouette in coproduction with the NAC French Theatre.

Apolline believes that Jackie Vautour, the last holdout among the expropriated residents of Kouchibouguac Park, is the only one who can help her understand the darkness and light within her. Along the way she meets Wolfe, who suggests an alternative route... but it’s not the kind of shortcut she had in mind.

A native of Lamèque, New Brunswick, Emma Haché has been one of French Theatre’s Associated Authors since 2008–09. Her awards and honours include the 2004 Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for her play L’Intimité. Wolfe marks her directing debut.

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MAIS QUE LIT STEPHEN HARPER ?
Yann Martel
February 
25, 2011 in the Theatre
Exclusive Canadian engagement / One performance only
Recommended reading for a prime minister and book lovers of all stripes by Yann Martel, translated from the English by Émile and Nicole Martel, directed by Guy Warin, with distinguished Canadian celebrities. Followed by a conversation between Yann Martel and Wajdi Mouawad. Produced by the NAC French Theatre.

Every two weeks since April 2007, Yann Martel has sent Prime Minister Stephen Harper a book accompanied by a letter explaining the choice. This epistolary evening gathers some of the best-known names in contemporary French-language literature to present Martel’s case. Together, these men and women of letters offer the Prime Minister a compelling argument for the importance of literacy and culture in our society.

Yann Martel is the author of Life of Pi. In 2009 he published What Is Stephen Harper Reading? (translated into French as Mais que lit Stephen Harper?), a collection of 60 letters he wrote to the Prime Minister beginning on April 17, 2007 and to which he received only five official replies.

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Vérité de soldat
Alioune Ifra Ndiaye / Jean-Louis Sagot-Duvauroux / Patrick Le Mauff
March 8–12, 2011 in the Theatre
Exclusive Canadian engagement / Performed in Bambara with English and French surtitles
Docudrama based on the book Ma vie de soldat by Soungalo Samaké, adapted for the stage by Jean-Louis Sagot-Duvauroux, directed by Patrick Le Mauff, with Nouhoun Cissé, Maïmouna Doumbia, Hamadoun Kassogué and Tièblé Traoré. Coproduced by BlonBa and the NAC French Theatre with the support of the Centre culturel français de Bamako.

He served in the French army, then in his newly independent country’s forces, then as the generals’ right-hand man during the military coup d’état. One day he was arrested. On his release from prison, he entrusted his life story to a publisher and freedom fighter he had tortured with his own hands... and the two forged an unusual complicity.

Playwright Jean?Louis Sagot?Duvauroux and director and actor Patrick Le Mauff (whose memorable roles include the father in Littoral) collaborate on a creative project originated in Africa by Alioune Ifra Ndiaye, artistic director of BlonBa (Bamako, Mali), to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Malian independence.

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LA LISTE
Jennifer Tremblay / Marie-Thérèse Fortin
March 30–April 2, 2011 in the Studio
One-woman play by Jennifer Tremblay, directed by Marie-Thérèse Fortin, with Sylvie Drapeau. Produced by Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui.

A woman reveals her obsessive side as she writes and re-writes her daily “to do” list. Her neighbour Caroline, a disorganized mother of four, is dead, and now our protagonist is consumed by guilt. Could Caroline’s death be due to an oversight on her part—something she accidentally left off her list?

Talented emerging playwright Jennifer Tremblay won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama for her first play, La Liste. Marie-Thérèse Fortin, artistic director of the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, directs Sylvie Drapeau in this one-woman show.

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[.                     .]
Wajdi Mouawad

April 12–16, 2011 in the Theatre
A new play written and directed by Wajdi Mouawad, with Marie-Josée Bastien, Jean-Jacqui Boutet, Véronique Côté, Denise Gagnon, Gérald Gagnon, Anne-Marie Olivier, Valera Pankov, Isabelle Roy. Produced by Théâtre du Trident and Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui in coproduction with the NAC French Theatre.

We don’t know a thing about Wajdi Mouawad’s new play. Not a thing! And neither does he, apparently. That’s the way he wants it for now, and he is summarily dismissing any ideas that happen to cross his mind. That said, here’s the general plan: He will go into rehearsal with a team of actors and designers for two months or so, and they will emerge with a play.

French Theatre’s artistic director takes one more kick at the creative can before tackling his next monumental project: staging all seven of Sophocles' surviving tragedies.

FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES 

ROLAND (LA VÉRITÉ DU VAINQUEUR) (For ages 12 and older)
Olivier Ducas
November 12–13, 2010 in the Studio
Medieval epic adapted and directed by Olivier Ducas, based on the poem by an anonymous author, with Daniel Desparois and David?Alexandre Després. Produced by Théâtre de la Pire Espèce.

Using puppetry and shadow-play, a knight and a storyteller defend their interpretation of the medieval epic La Chanson de Roland. As one dismisses it as a blatant piece of Crusades propaganda and the other praises it as the faithful account of a courageous warrior, a sliver of doubt creeps in: can you believe everything you read?

Founded in 1999, Théâtre de la Pire Espèce has created a dozen original productions which have been performed more than 800 times in 7 countries and 4 languages, gleefully incorporating theatre of objects, clowning, cabaret and street theatre.

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Les Zurbains 2010 (For ages 14 and older)
November 27, 2010 in the Studio
One performance only
Tales of the city by Cleo Beland, Alex Carignan, Caleb Guthrie, David Le Quéré and Alex Viens, directed by Monique Gosselin. Produced by Théâtre Le Clou.

For the second consecutive year, French Theatre is delighted to welcome Les Zurbains, a showcase of contemporary tales written by aspiring young playwrights from Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa?Gatineau. Our local hero this year is David Le Quéré, a student at École secondaire de l’Île (Gatineau), with his play Level 20.

This unique creative project gives young people a chance to express themselves, to be different, to push the envelope, and to channel their imagination and energy into a story of their own invention.

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ÉCLATS ET AUTRES LIBERTÉS (For ages 14 and older)
Marie-Josée Bastien, Mathieu Gosselin, Étienne Lepage and Jean-Frédéric Messier / Benoît Vermeulen
March 11–12, 2011 in the Studio
A constructive, poetic and socially connected experiment by Marie-Josée Bastien, Mathieu Gosselin, Étienne Lepage and Jean-Frédéric Messier, directed by Benoît Vermeulen, with Ève Duranceau, Eve Landry, Kim Lavack-Paquin and Erwin Weche. Produced by Théâtre Le Clou in coproduction with the NAC French Theatre.

Meet four passionate young people, very different, yet linked by their effervescent creativity, their dread of falling into a conformist rut, and their eagerness to explore different ways of seeing and being in the world. Poetry, humour, art and philosophy are their weapons of choice in the war against convention and complacency.

Director Benoît Vermeulen, staging the 11th original production from Montreal’s Théâtre Le Clou, invites the audience into a theatrical installation of images in constant transformation.

 FOR CHILDREN

LA ROBE DE MA MÈRE (For ages 5 to 10)
Serge Marois / Sylviane Fortuny
October 16–17, 2010 in the Studio
Seaside memories written by Serge Marois, directed by Sylviane Fortuny, with Denis Lavalou, Claudine Ledoux and Marcel Pomerlo. Produced by L’Arrière-Scène, centre dramatique pour l’enfance et la jeunesse en Montérégie.

Two men meet at the beach: Émile, who senses things that are invisible, and Gaston, who responds to things that are visible. They are both waiting for a woman (she’s late, as usual!) to give her a present: a dress... and they’ve chosen exactly the same one! Wrapped in sweet melodies sung by a mezzo-soprano Mommy with an enchanting voice, La Robe de ma mère (My Mother’s Dress) offers a loving tribute to the most important woman in our life: our mother.

Founded in 1976 in Beloeil, Quebec and directed by Serge Marois, L’Arrière-Scène is known for high-quality productions built around poetry and metaphor.

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NUIT D’ORAGE (For ages 5 to 9)
Michèle Lemieux / Gervais Gaudreault
December 4–5, 2010 in the Studio
Philosophical illustrations by Michèle Lemieux, directed by Gervais Gaudreault, with Ludger Côté + 1 actress. Produced by Compagnie de théâtre Le Carrousel in coproduction with Muni Spec Mont-Laurier.

A little girl and her dog are curled up together on a stormy night. Affectionate and perceptive, Nuit d’orage explores the philosophy born of our doubts and fears at the age when we first start thinking about such things. A play that sees things in black and white, and brings them together in a creative dialogue.

It was over a decade ago that director Gervais Gaudreault discovered illustrator Michèle Lemieux’s award-winning children’s book, Nuit d’orage. Now, with tender care, he ushers the young heroine and her hopes and fears from the page to the stage.

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LE VOYAGE (For ages 5 to 9)
Marie-Christine Lê-Huu
January 22–23, 2011 in the Studio

Zen story with a jazz beat, written and directed by Marie-Christine Lê-Huu, with Caroline Bernier-Dionne, Noë Cropsal, Alexandre Leroux and Félix Monette-Dubeau. Produced by Théâtre de l’Avant-Pays.

Lost in the mountains of Japan, a boy and his mother wander in search of a town, a house, a shelter. Through the creative freedom of puppetry and the uplifting music of Louis Armstrong (a guaranteed cure for the blues), Marie-Christine Lê-Huu spins a heart-warming tale for young and old alike.

Beloved star of the children’s TV shows Toc, toc, toc and Cornemuse, Marie?Christine Lê-Huu wrote Le Voyage as part of a creative carte blanche offered by Montreal’s Théâtre de l’Avant-Pays.

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LE SPECTACLE DE L’ARBRE (For ages 18 months to 3 years)
Nathalie Derome, Amélie Dumoulin, Karine Sauvé
March 26–27, 2011 in the Salon

Enviro-fantasy for very young children, created and performed by Nathalie Derome, Amélie Dumoulin and Karine Sauvé, based on an original concept by Nathalie Derome. Produced by Des mots d’la dynamite.

Three intriguing creatures in leafy crowns celebrate the passage of time and the seasons, admiring the particular palette and qualities of each one. Le Spectacle de l’arbre is a colourful herbarium specially designed for tiny tots, a charming illustration of how it feels to grow up and grow roots, just like the trees around us.

French Theatre is delighted to introduce theatre for very young audiences with this original production created by children’s theatre company Des mots d’la dynamite, founded by Nathalie Derome more than 20 years ago.

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LE TEMPS DES MUFFINS (For ages 4 to 8)
Joël da Silva
May 14–15, 2011 in the Studio
Culinary extravaganza by Joël da Silva, with 1 puppeteer and Joël da Silva himself. Produced by Théâtre Magasin.

The kitchen, scene of amazing triumphs and heartbreaking disasters, is surely one of our earliest experiences of theatre. There we encounter a diverse cast of characters: fire and water, sweet and salty, the enticing aroma of vanilla and the horrible smell of burning!

For over 20 years, Joël da Silva has been writing and directing imaginative, entertaining shows that play with music, words and performance.

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LA TEMPÊTE (For ages 8 and older)
William Shakespeare / Emma Haché / Alice Ronfard
May 28–29, 2011 in the Studio

Classic play by William Shakespeare, updated and adapted for family audiences by Emma Haché, directed by Alice Ronfard, with Pierre-André Bujold, Noémie Godin-Vigneau and Christophe Rapin. Produced by Théâtre de la Petite Marée.

Shakespeare’s memorable characters come vibrantly to life in the hands of a team of talented puppeteers who use every trick in the book (including spells, charms and curses) to blow the dust off this classic tale.

Based in Baie-des-Chaleurs in Quebec’s Gaspé region, Théâtre de la Petite Marée specializes in summer family shows that appeal to all ages. Seasoned director Alice Ronfard steers us safely through a Tempest freely adapted by playwright Emma Haché.

“You have to want to come to French Theatre. It takes courage, it takes effort. Nothing says you have to come, least of all a sense of cultural obligation. If you come, it’s because you have freely chosen to come. And you come to experience something that is freely given. The artist on stage is here to express his or her vision, not just to grab your attention.”
Wajdi Mouawad

“Whoever wishes to win over the masses
must know the key that will open the door to their hearts.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

“In the realm of kitsch, the dictatorship of the heart reigns supreme.”
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

MORE THAN JUST A PLAY:
Other activities to enrich your French Theatre experience

Rencontres du jeudi

After every Thursday evening performance, the audience is invited to stay in their seats after the show for a 30?minute talkback with the cast and creative team.

Rencontres du samedi

After every Saturday matinee performance, children and their grownups are invited to join the cast and creative team for a 20?minute question-and-answer session.

Rencontres du midi

Presented at intervals throughout the season, these free noon-hour sessions in the NAC Fourth Stage feature Wajdi Mouawad in conversation with French Theatre guest artists.

Laboratoire du Théâtre français, 2011 edition

Launched in 2002, French Theatre’s Laboratoire du Théâtre français (French Theatre Lab) is an annual workshop on the master class model, where theatre artists from Canada and abroad can share their experiences and explore current issues with professional colleagues from across the country. The director of the 2010–11 session will be announced shortly.

Associated Authors

In 2008–09, French Theatre invited Franco-Canadian writers Emma Haché (New Brunswick), Luc Moquin (Ontario) and Gilles Poulin?Denis (Saskatchewan) to develop new scripts under the mentorship of Wajdi Mouawad. In February 2011, French Theatre will present the fruit of their creative labours: a full production of Emma Haché’s Wolfe (February 16–19, 2011 in the Studio), produced by Théâtre l’Escaouette in coproduction with the NAC French Theatre; and staged readings of works in progress by Luc Moquin and Gilles Poulin?Denis.

L’Oiseau-tigre, les Cahiers du Théâtre français

Published twice yearly (in September and January), French Theatre’s newsletter L’Oiseau?Tigre has only one ambition, only one purpose: to resist and provoke. The content can include essays, tracts, analyses, manifestos, poems, letters, stories, and reports, from freshly minted texts to familiar works—in short, any and all forms inspired by the unique setting of a particular work, the overall spirit and theme of the season, or the creative input of our featured artists and partners.

House programs and websites (microsites)

For every show in the season, French Theatre produces a house program containing information about the play and the creative team, and articles by some of the featured artists. The print program is handed out to audience members before every performance; it is also posted in advance on our website, along with photos, video clips, and background information about the artists and the show.

French Theatre blog, « Le kitsch nous mange » (“Kitsch is eating us”)

Over the course of the 2010–11 season, Guy Warin, Assistant to the Artistic Director, will post regular entries about the phenomenon and experience of kitsch.
www.blogue.cna-nac.ca
. 

USEFUL INFORMATION – How to subscribe

It’s easy to subscribe! Just call the NAC Subscription Office at 613?947?7000, ext. 620 or 1?866?850?ARTS (2787), ext. 620; visit the Subscription Office in the NAC Foyer, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; or subscribe online at www.nac?cna.ca/abonnements.

L’Oisillon, our 2010–11 season brochure

For complete information about the shows in our 2010–11 season, download our season brochure from the NAC website or pick up a print copy in the NAC Foyer. Graphic design is by Laurent Pinabel.

Video

To view an art video (by Ryan Iler, Talltree Studios) featuring works by Diana Thorneycroft and a video of our 2010–11 season launch, visit our website at www.nac-cna.ca/tf.

THE FRENCH THEATRE TEAM

Artistic Director: WAJDI MOUAWAD / Administrative Director: FERNAND DÉRY / Assistant to the Artistic Director: GUY WARIN / Administrative Coordinator: LUCETTE PROULX / Associate Artist, Youth Program: BENOÎT VERMEULEN / Coordinator, Youth Program: MARIE?CLAUDE VERDIER / Marketing Officer: HÉLÈNE NADEAU / Marketing Coordinator: ODETTE LAURIN / Marketing Coordinator: MARIE?CHANTALE LABBÉ?JACQUES

The images featured in French Theatre’s 2010–11 season materials (posters, programs, etc.) are by Winnipeg-based visual artist Diana Thorneycroft (b. 1956). Her works have been exhibited across Canada, the United States and Europe, and in Tokyo and Sydney. The photographs in this brochure are from two recent series about Canadian mythology: The Canadiana Martyrdom Series and Group of Seven Awkward Moments. In these tableaux vivants richly laden with narrative elements, Diana Thorneycroft shines an edgy and ironic light on our national identity and some of our most cherished Canadian icons.

“In short, the threat we now face is a return to order, pure and simple.”
Guy Scarpetta, “Réflexions sur le kitsch,” L’Artifice

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