Intimist one-man show written and performed by Gaétan Nadeau, directed by Jacques Brochu and Marie?Stéphane Ledoux.
October 20–23 at 8 p.m. in the NAC Studio
Artistic collaborators: Alexander MacSween, Benoît Bourdeau, Jacques Brochu, Réal Dorval and Brigitte Comeau.
Created and produced by Gaétan Nadeau through an artistic residency at La Chapelle, Montreal. Coproduced by the NAC French Theatre. Personal Jesus received a creative residency at Usine C in Montreal.
Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes, with no intermission.
First performed in December 2009 at La Chapelle in Montreal, Gaétan Nadeau’s Personal Jesus has found its second wind, and after some artistic and editorial tweaking, the production returns in a more mature and polished version specially designed for the National Arts Centre (NAC). It should be noted that Wajdi Mouawad, Artistic Director of French Theatre, has a penchant for unconventional artistic projects and likes to encourage the creative teams he invites to Ottawa to explore new and unexpected approaches. So it’s a double renaissance for Gaétan Nadeau’s show, opening October 20 in the Studio!
In the playwright’s own words, “What better setting for a rebirth than a cradle—in this case, the cradle of Western civilization? Inspired by an extended stay in Rome, Personal Jesus is a solo performance delivered as an impressionistic, cabaret-style layering of different ingredients (travel impressions, personal anecdotes...).” Galvanized by the culture shock of the opulent artworks of Rome and Italy, Gaétan Nadeau took up writing, with Pasolini’s crude poetry and Chateaubriand’s Voyage en Italie for company. Back in Canada, he didn’t rest until he had adapted his travel journal into his first one-man stage show. Blending travel impressions, anecdotes and dance segments, he paints a lavish and impressionistic portrait in which Donald Lautrec ogles Saint Teresa and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes are reflected in the screen of a televised Sunday mass. At 45, stretched out on his fuzzy couch and sporting the briefest of gold briefs, Gaétan Nadeau resolutely redefines the meaning of performance and shamelessly overrides the limits of traditional theatre.
“How to convey the personal experience of travel? The delight and the idleness? The rapture of the martyr and the banality of the everyday? This National Arts Centre version of Personal Jesus sets out to explore forms of acting (forms of the body), and attempts to capture the roller-coaster emotional impact of the splendours of the Eternal City,” explains Nadeau with typical directness!
For the past 20 years, Gaétan Nadeau has led a multifaceted career as a playwright, actor (Woyzeck, Hippocampe), dancer and performer. An unusual figure, he is drawn to underground stages and unconventional works, and prefers significant secondary roles to predictable main characters. He regularly collaborates with Jacques Brochu and Marie?Stéphane Ledoux on stage performances that combine choreography, video and the spoken word.
RENCONTRE DU JEUDI
On Thursday, October 21 the audience is invited to stay in the Studio after the performance for a conversation with Gaétan Nadeau on the subject: “What are the essential works of Italian art in all its frolicsome glory?”
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING
“Rome probably inspires as much decadence as splendour. And looking back on your life in middle age may have the same effect. This is the unsettling mix that spawned Personal Jesus, a one-man show by baroque and charismatic actor/performer Gaétan Nadeau, here presenting his first solo creation.”
Frédérique Doyon, Le Devoir
“With his massive, hairy, sculptural body, Gaétan Nadeau looks like a Roman gladiator. But when this virile actor steps out in his briefs to execute a few ballet steps to the music of Bach, he looks like a little kid at play! Between these two images, Personal Jesus invites us to share the personal and artistic journey of a daring and iconoclastic creator.... His shamelessness is theatrical. Personal Jesus constantly challenges the limits of the pure and the impure, the banal and the mystical, the trivial and the sacred.”
Luc Boulanger, Le Devoir
“At the age of 45, Gaétan Nadeau came rather late to the adage Travel is broadening, and in 2008 he returned from an extended stay in Rome completely overwhelmed. The resulting play—a blend of travel stories, personal observations and social commentary on life both at home and abroad—recounts his rebirth in Italy, where art and religion are one and the same and where, at some point in the distant past, time and ideas got together and created philosophy.... His physical presence completely dominates the stage, whether he’s dancing vigorously, posing motionless as an ancient marble statue, or reclining feverishly on his fuzzy couch on wheels, quoting Pasolini. Framed by an unobtrusive set, soberly dressed and backed by video effects on a dark background, the artist commands the space.”
Marie?Sophie Bérard, Magazine Urbain/Culturel
“Gaétan Nadeau’s staging of this coming-of-age story is like a multi-layered Impressionist painting composed of bodies and words.... A powerfully physical work that conveys the ambiguous mix of erotic sensuality and religious spirituality that strongly affected him on his journey to Rome.”
Pascale Gauthier, 24 heures/Ici Week-End
“A kind of scenic travel diary that, besides being very personal and recalling scenes from his childhood, shows his love of great literature and includes passages from the works of Chateaubriand, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Marguerite Yourcenar. All this in an interdisciplinary spirit, with dance segments and video images of Rome, the city that so inspired him.”
Philippe Couture, Le Voir
NAC BOX OFFICE
53 Elgin Street, Ottawa
10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Live Rush $12
GROUPS OF 10 OR MORE
Save 15% to 20% off regular ticket prices
613-947-7000, ext. 384
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(Ms.) Aude Rahmani
613-947-7000, ext. 396