The National Arts Centre (NAC) French Theatre today announced its 2011-12 season, designed by Artistic Director Wajdi Mouawad. After three seasons filled with memorable theatrical moments and events, and to mark his final season at the helm of the French Theatre, playwright, director and actor Mouawad has lined up a total of 19 productions, including three Canadian premieres, one North American premiere as well as an exclusive North American engagement presented in both French and Arabic.

For the 2011-12 season, Wajdi Mouawad and Benoît Vermeulen (Artistic Associate, Youth Program) have turned to playwrights, directors and designers who invite us to take a long, hard look at those feelings of anxiety and restlessness that lie within all of us. These artists and creators like to toy with our preconceived notions of what a theatre production should be, by manipulating both content and form and by embracing a unique artistic vision. 

French Theatre’s three previous seasons were presented under the banners Nous sommes en guerre/We are at war, Nous sommes en manque/We are in need and Le kitsch nous mange/Kitsch is eating us, respectively. The catchphrase for 2011–12, which will accompany audiences on their theatrical journey throughout the season, is Nous ne sommes pas dangereux (“We are not dangerous”). This editorial phrase, which first emerged as we were outlining our season and progressively became its central theme, is intimately linked to the works of Edmonton associate visual artist Dana Holst. Indeed, her productions feature young, rebellious girls who hunt wild animals while entertaining fairy tale fantasies. These works have become particularly resonant in the aftermath of the recent nuclear crisis in Japan, the repercussions of which were felt the world over. They also find relevance in the social questions raised during the current election campaign, while leading us to question the choices we make as a society.

The purpose of theatre is to provide a poetic clearing in the heart of the urban forest. A space where the simple song of a bird reminds us of this truth: “A busy life does not a full life make.” The freer an artistic gesture, the freer those who witness it. And that is why it is dangerous.

Wajdi Mouawad



 -          The National Arts Centre will feature two Canadian premieres, namely: La Sentinelle, a staged reading from a text written by Wajdi Mouawad; and Nathan, created by young playwright, director and actor Emmanuel Schwartz.

-          A Canadian premiere in the Youth Program: Une lune entre deux maisons, written by Suzanne Lebeau, which will be revisited by a new generation of artists.

-          The North American premiere of Des Femmes, Sophocles' three tragedies as reinterpreted by Wajdi Mouawad and presented in a distinct form.

-          Photo-Romance, an exclusive North American engagement created by two Lebanese artists, which will be presented in both French and Arabic in the Studio at the National Arts Centre.

-          Wajdi Mouawad's final season at the NAC will also feature the works of the French Theatre's former Artistic Director Denis Marleau, as well as its new Artistic Director Brigitte Haentjens: Jackie, based on Elfriede Jelinek's Drames de princesses : La Jeune Fille et la Mort IV; and L'Opéra de quat'sous, as translated by Jean-Marc Dalpé.

-          This year, we have achieved an ideal balance between productions aimed at adults and those targeting a younger audience. Indeed, the season will feature ten productions aimed at adults, six more aimed at younger children, and another three aimed at those aged 11 and older.

-          Again this year, the Salon at the National Arts Centre will feature a show designed specifically for children 18 months to 4 years of age: Jasmine Dubé's Marguerite.


September 27, 28, 29 & 30 and October 1, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. - Theatre

Written and directed by Olivier Choinière - Codirected by Alexia Bürger - Assistant director: Charlotte Ménard - Performed by Christian Baril, Marie Bernier, Delphine Bienvenu, Sabrina Bisson, Philippe Brault, Julie Carrier-Prévost, Simone Chevalot, Guillaume Chouinard, Annie Darisse, Étienne De Santis-Savoie, Ève Duranceau, Éric Forget, Marie-Michelle Garon, David Giguère, Émilie Gilbert, Mathieu Gosselin, Johanne Haberlin, Kevin Houle, Guillermina Kerwin, Ève Landry, Christian Laporte, Jean-Sébastien Lavoie, Milène Leclerc, Valérie Le Maire, Marika Lhoumeau, Pierre Limoges, Jean Maheux, Mathieu Marcil, François Marquis, André Morissette, Iannicko N’Doua, Emmanuelle Orange-parent, Frédéric Paquet, Christian Perrault, Isabel Rancier, Philippe Robert, Daniel Rousse, Brigitte Saint-Aubin, Ines Talbi, + 10 other actors and a different singer every night - Musical director: Philippe Brault - Choreographer: Line Nault - Lighting: Erwann Bernard - Sound: Olivier Gaudet-Savard - Technical director: Cynthia Bouchard-Gosselin - Production director: Annie Lalande - Produced by L'ACTIVITÉ

Once upon a time there was a wonderful world where, so the story goes, music had the amazing power to make life kinder and gentler by keeping everyone profoundly cheerful. One day, a man happened upon a dazzling instrument that seemed made just for him. He told himself it would be a shame to pass up such a perfect opportunity to play a few notes. Much to his astonishment, he came up with a tune so catchy that soon everyone in the town was singing it.

“I’m singing.
Yes, I’m singing.
Come sing along with me.”

However, a few leagues away, walled up in her ivory tower, the fairy Utopia had finally lost her patience.

- - - Moral - - -

Here we see how pure hearts
Should avoid at all costs hearing and singing
The simple and beguiling song of happiness.
And if you’re not convinced,
No need to test the theory:
Life itself will show you
The dangers of lofty ideals.

They say that songs echo the beat of their time: they are mirrors of society, and even of their entire era. In this production featuring no fewer than 50 actors, Olivier Choinière explores the unbearable lightness of singing. “The innocuous becomes the obligatory: come sing along with me,” exhorts the playwright.

October 12, 13, 14 & 15, 2011 at 8 p.m. – Studio
With English words and French syntax

Written by Larry Tremblay - Directed by Claude Poissant - Performed by Dany Boudreault, Patrice Dubois, Daniel Parent, Étienne Pilon and Mani Soleymanlou - Stage design: Olivier Landreville - Lighting: Erwann Bernard - Music: Éric Forget - Costumes: Marie-Chantale Vaillancourt - Props: David Ouellet - Makeup: Florence Cornet - Movement coach: Caroline Laurin-Beaucage - Assistant director, production director and stage manager: Catherine La Frenière - Linguistic coach: Maryse Warda - Technical director: Vincent Rousselle - Stage carpenter: Judith Saint-Pierre - Produced by Théâtre PÀP (Montreal) in coproduction with the Festival TransAmériques - Script published by Les Herbes Rouges

Once upon a time there was a man who suffered a traumatic childhood incident and hadn’t spoken a word since. Gaston was born in Chicoutimi, in the beautiful province of Quebec, in the great country of Canada, and he had a dream and that dream came true. In his dream, a young boy curiously rigged out in an adult body, and with a face splintered like a Picasso painting, came knocking at the door of a pretty cottage at the edge of a vast enchanted forest, seeking comfort in a fond maternal embrace. As his dream faded, the miracle he had been waiting for for 40 years finally happened: he instantly regained the power of speech. However, as he told his story he was astonished to find that he was uttering not his mother tongue, but English. What on earth had happened to spark this incredible transformation?

- - - Moral - - -

Cultural or sexual identity is not a burden
When it is part of a dazzling outward appearance;
But if either is weak or shameful in the eyes of others,
You reject it, you mock it and you stifle it.
However, no mask can conceal pain and turmoil forever,
And in the end, in spite of yourself, you end up revealing
Your profound feelings of loss, alienation and anguish.

This dramatic monologue by Larry Tremblay, written in 1995 and performed for many years by Jean-Louis Millette, is revisited by Claude Poissant, who multiplies its impact fivefold. The director’s ingenuity is a perfect complement to the playwright’s unconventional yet lucid vision.

October 22, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. and October 23, 2011 at 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. - Studio
For ages 3 to 7

Story by Christine Smeysters and Hadi El Gammal - Directed by Christine Smeysters - Music by Hadi El Gammal - Performed by Matthieu Moureau, Hélène Blesch, Julien De Borman and Hadi El Gammal - Stage design and costumes: Nathalie Maufroy - Set construction: Nathalie Maufroy, Florine Delory, Laure Cerbelaud - Lighting: Gaëtan van den Berg - Produced by Théâtre Maât (Brussels, Belgium) - Tour organized in association with La Maison Théâtre and Les Gros-Becs

Once upon a time there was…
An abandoned circus in the Far North…
Paxo, Paccor et Piole, three penguin musicians.
Pravitch, the old caretaker who fancied himself a circus trainer.
The pack ice.
The great melt.
The madness of humankind…
Once upon a time there was… a funny and moving musical fable set to the rhythm of the tango and the waltz.

This play is first and foremost a fable, an allegory in which music plays a leading role. In appealing to children’s imagination, the company aims to touch their hearts before their minds. Besides its ecological message, the play points out the folly of humans who, through selfishness and lust for power, have once again unleashed forces beyond their control.

November 22, 23, 24, 25 & 26, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. – Theatre

Written by Elfriede Jelinek - Translated by Magali Jourdan and Mathilde Sobottke - Directed by Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin - Performed by Sylvie Léonard - Camera: Olivier Schmitt - Sets, props and video images: Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin - Costumes: Isabelle Larivière - Lighting: Marc Parent - Music and soundscape: Nicolas Bernier - Makeup and hair: Angelo Barsetti - Assistant director: Martin Émond - Publication and performance rights: L’Arche (Paris, France) - Coproduced by UBU (Montreal) and ESPACE GO (Montreal)

In a magnificent white house lived a princess as beautiful as she was good, who was loved and respected by all the rulers and all the people in the world. A devoted wife and loving mother, Jackie was unmatched for spirit and style, and everything she did she did with marvelous grace. However, because neither rulers nor subjects are immune to the vicissitudes of life, and because joy and sadness occur in equal measure, the fates decreed that the princess should be early acquainted with the pain of death, and she suffered the loss of several of her children. And because when it rains it pours, despite her many exceptional qualities and her universal charm, Prince John’s appetite for the pleasures of the flesh remained insatiable, and he secretly assembled a veritable harem of young and beautiful women of the kingdom. And thus it was that the exuberant youth and pleasing appearance of one in particular, whose name was Marilyn, ignited such a passion within the prince that he was unable to hide it from the public eye.

Deeply wounded by this unspeakable humiliation and relentlessly haunted by the shadow of death, Princess Jackie developed an unparalleled obsession with her appearance, and deployed the banner of Chanel like a protective shield against the outside world.

- - - Moral - - -

It’s all well and good
To have charm, breeding, and other such talents
Bestowed by the benevolent fates,
But they’re not worth much
When it comes to your personal happiness
If there’s nothing holding them up
But the image that hides your true self.

Jackie, by Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek (winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature), is the fourth portrait in her Princess Dramas series about female role models trapped in the image-making machine. Denis Marleau and Stéphanie Jasmin construct a compelling stage portrait of the former U.S. First Lady as walking, talking image.

November 26, 2011 at 8 p.m. – Studio
For ages 14 and older

Written by Safa Abdel Rahman, Dany Boudreault (professional writer for this session), Emma Champagne, Sabrine Mazz and Gabriella Peguero-Rodriguez - Directed by Monique Gosselin - Performed by Jean-Philippe Lehoux, Aurélie Morgane, Véronic Rodrigue, Dominic L. St-Louis and Sophie Thibeault - Assistant director and stage manager: Martine Richard - Stage design: Josée Bergeron-Proulx - Costumes: Sandrine Bisson - Lighting: Mathieu Marcil - Soundscape: Antoine Bédard - Production and technical director: Jérémi Guilbault Asselin - Consulting writers: Jean-Philippe Lehoux, Michel Ouellette and Patrick Saucier - Produced by Théâtre Le Clou

Once upon a time there was the captivating story of a theatre company whose only wish was to encourage an intergenerational dialogue about writing, by promoting artistic experiments, personal stories, and independent voices and ideas. It was fascinated by contemporary writing, a living language that could take on every colour imaginable and was alive with echoes of the street and the social and cultural experiences of diverse communities. And so it was that Théâtre Le Clou launched a writing competition for high-school students from Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa-Gatineau, organized an intensive writing workshop led by professional artists, and enlisted the support of several enthusiastic and generous presenters. Every year this effervescent creative crucible, bubbling over with interpersonal exchanges, learning experiences in playwriting, and artistic inspiration, gave rise to original works and performances where, in their own words, teenagers could freely express their view of the world.

Headed by Montreal’s Théâtre Le Clou, Les Zurbains is produced in association with the Théâtre Denise-Pelletier (Montreal), Les Gros Becs (Quebec City) centre for young people’s theatre, the Théâtre français de Toronto, and the National Arts Centre French Theatre (Ottawa). Our young regional playwright this year is Gabriella Peguero-Rodriguez, a student at College Nouvelles-Frontières in Gatineau.

December 7, 8, 9 & 10, 2011 at 8 p.m. – Studio

Created and performed by Nini Bélanger and Pascal Brullemans - Assistant director: Manon Claveau - Stage design and props: Julie Vallée-Léger - Lighting: David-Alexandre Chabot - Sound design: Nicolas Letarte - Stage manager: Maude Labonté - Technical director: Charles Maher - Artistic consultants: Dominique Pétin and Benoît Vermeulen - Produced and presented by Projet MÛ, created in residence at La Chapelle

A wandering couple were trying to make their way across the irregular surface of a frozen lake. Arriving at its centre, they paused and looked around at the vast expanse of sky above them, the bare trees, the broken stalks, and beneath their feet, the delicate crystalline layer that separates them from the deep waters below. All was quiet and peaceful... until suddenly, without warning, the woman stomped her heel and shattered the ice into a thousand fragments. The couple sank like stones into the chill and deadly waters. Their lives flashed before their eyes—all the love, all the pain; all the tenderness, all the brutality. But just as they were about to draw their final watery breath, a tiny hand reached out and dragged them back to the surface. It was the fish-baby, the one who had never lived. They woke up on the muddy shore, amazed to find themselves still alive. They resumed their walk, but this time they took the homeward path. And ever since that day, to anyone willing to listen, they have told the amazing story of their extraordinary rescue.

- - - Moral - - -

Listen, come near, let me whisper in your ear
What lies within the heart of every creator.
Hidden deep inside are thousands of luminous ideas
Of every hue and every scent,
Where magical words bloom,
Tender and alive, to preserve a flower from dying and fading forever...

After Endormi(e), an unsettling show that earned director Nini Bélanger the 2009–10 Cochon d’or award for Best Production, Projet MÛ returns with Beauté, chaleur et mort, a docufiction that explores the uneasy zone between stage performance and intimacy, and dives even deeper into the disquiet created by bringing it to the stage.

December 17, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. and December 18, 2011 at 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. – Studio
For ages 5 to 9

Written and directed by Jean-Philippe Joubert - Developed and performed by Danièle Belley, Laurie-Ève Gagnon, Sonia Montminy and Olivier Normand - Music and soundscape: Mathieu Campagna - Stage design and props: Claudia Gendreau  - Costumes and props: Julie Morel - Lighting design and video projections: Jean-Philippe Joubert - Technical: Michelle Bouchard - This play is the young people’s component of the Projet EAU trilogy created by theatre company Nuages en pantaloon

Once upon a time there were a little girl and a ship’s captain who were lost on the edge of a dried-up ocean.
Alone on the opposite shore, the little girl’s mother called frantically to them with her song.
What could they do to get out of this desperate situation
The little girl tried to draw the ocean, taking great care to use the right colour.
The captain dove deep into his imagination and consulted a mysterious mermaid.
Beside herself, the mother wept all the tears she had to fill the unbearable void...
Would they ever be together again?

Playful and highly visual, performed almost entirely without words, Le Chant de la mer is both funny and melancholy, light-hearted and moving. It tells of water and its mysteries. Water is a hot topic in the media: everyone must do their part to preserve this precious natural resource. But there’s another way of looking at it. Water can also be the mirror of our fears, our dreams, our memories, our joy, our sadness—in a word, of our innermost selves. In this play, theatre company Nuages en pantalon explores our intimate and intuitive relationship with water, and shows how water really does constitute our Being and our language.

January 21, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. and January 22, 2012 at 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. – Studio
For ages 6 to 10

Original concept: Chantal Lavallée - Written by Chantal Lavallée and Robert Bellefeuille - Directed by Robert Bellefeuille - Dramaturgical consultant: Esther Beauchemin - Performed by Sasha Dominique, Céleste Dubé, Fanny Rainville + 2 actors to be announced - Stage manager and assistant director: Diane Fortin - Stage design: Jean Bard - Soundscape: Louise Beaudoin - Costumes and props: Marianne Thériault - Lighting and technical direction: Guillaume Houët -Produced by Théâtre de la Vieille 17

A little rock dreamed of sailing away...
But everybody knows rocks can’t float!
A little rock dreamed of travelling far...
But everybody knows rocks can’t walk!
A little rock dreamed of flying high...
But everybody knows rocks can’t leave the ground!Dreaming, dreaming, dreaming—Little Rock just can’t help it;
But... with his friends, he can do anything.

Though they are an ocean apart,
Chantal and Robert, friends since forever,
Have written this story for you
Full of unusual characters
Like rocks, plastic sandals and bowler hats.


February 10 & 11, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. -
Théâtre – Off-subscription

Canadian premiere

Written by Wajdi Mouawad - Performed by Jane Birkin - Originally produced for France Culture and premiered July 14, 2009 at the Avignon Festival - Produced by Au Carré de l’Hypoténuse–France and Abé Carré Cé Carré–Quebec

It was so hot and bright that day, it felt as if the kingdom were cloaked in molten lead. Alone and disoriented, a poor woman of indeterminate age wandered like a demented ghost through the teeming, crowded streets leading to the palace. Her mind and body had finally succumbed to the cruel and relentless lash of the deadly sea air of her horrible waking dream. Wild-eyed with the terror of her nightmare become reality, she was consumed by the urgent need to tell her desperate story to anyone who would listen. What could be the pandemoniacal song of this eternal sentinel who, perched in her crow’s nest, was prepared to give up her life so that one day we might enjoy infinite respite?

- - - Moral - - -

The story would have us believe
That even if life seems fair and gentle,
We mustn’t underestimate the fluctuations
That can lead to alienation.
No one is safe,
Until their dying breath,
From the threat of madness.

The product of the mutual admiration between Wajdi Mouawad and Jane Birkin, La Sentinelle is an unpublished script that will be presented as a staged reading. La Sentinelle is a lyrical memorial in words to the suffering of those who have sacrificed their lives and been stripped of their dignity.

February 28 & 29 and March 1, 2 & 3, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. – Theatre

Written by Bertolt Brecht - Translated by Jean Marc Dalpé - Directed by Brigitte Haentjens - Music: Kurt Weill - Performed by Sébastien Ricard, Jacques Girard, Kathleen Fortin, Marc Béland, Céline Bonnier, Ève Gadouas, Maxime Gaudette, Ève Pressault, Francis Ducharme, Pierre-Luc Brillant, Kseniya Chernyshova, Larissa Corriveau, Sharon James, Émilie Laforest, Marika Lhoumeau, Nicolas Michon, Frédéric Millaire-Zouvi and Mani Soleymanlou - Assistant director and stage manager: Marie-Hélène Dufort - Dramaturg: Florent Siaud - Stage design: Anick La Bissonnière - Costumes: Yso - Lighting: Guy Simard - Music director and arranger: Bernard Falaise - Musicians: Bernard Falaise, Guillaume Dostaller, Jean Derome, Nicolas Letartre and Pierre-Luc Brillant - Sound design: Frederic Auger - Makeup and hair: Angelo Barsetti - Produced by Sibyllines in association with the National Arts Centre French Theatre

In a town bathed in the harsh light of thousands of red lanterns, two criminals as ruthless as they were greedy reigned supreme: Messrs. Mackie and Peachum. Their underlings were obliged to suffer their tyranny in silence if they wanted to stay alive and enjoy police protection. And so they went about their odious tasks uncomplainingly, and gave the bosses their cut. This might have gone on indefinitely were it not for an unexpected marriage. While Mr. Peachum was shamelessly exploiting human misery and terrorizing the beggars of the town, his only daughter yielded to the passion of her love-struck heart and began planning a secret wedding to none other than Mackie, the king of thieves himself. Outraged and furious at the very idea of such a union, her parents set out summarily to restore the family honour. And thus it was that war erupted between the two clans, and many were the treacheries and skirmishes that ensued.

- - - Moral - - -

This tale may seem hard to believe,
For it flies in the face of everything we are taught.
Even so, it’s no shaggy dog story,
For it clearly shows
That goodness and virtue don’t always go hand in hand with greatness and glory.

Beginning with the 2012–13 season (and until 2016), Brigitte Haentjens will become the first female artistic director in the history of the National Arts Centre French Theatre. No stranger to French Theatre, she has staged several productions here over the past decade, including Woyzeck, Tout comme elle, Vivre, and La Cloche de verre.

March 3, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. and March 4, 2012 at 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. - Studio
For ages 7 to 11

Written by Geneviève Billette - Directed by Stéphanie Lépine - Assistant director and stage manager: Marie-Christine Martel - Set design: Geneviève Lizotte - Sound design: Eric Shaw - Lighting design: Anne-Marie Rodrigue-Lecours - Props design: Valérie Archambault - Set assistant: Valérie Archambault - Costume construction: Sophie Limoges  - Technical director: Jérémi Guilbault Asselin - Production director and stage manager: Marjorie Bélanger - Directing consultant: Benoît Vermeulen - Associate company: Théâtre Bouches Décousues - Produced by Eldorado Théâtre through a creative residency at La Maison Théâtre “La chambre d’amis,” at Théâtre De La Ville and at Les Écuries

Once upon a time
There was a kindly zookeeper who was completely devoted to his bears,
To the point where he had given up his own freedom for their sake.
Once upon a time
There was a little wandering orphan
Who was looking for a place to call home.
The man awaited his fiancée...
The little bird-child looked for a cosy nest.
Might they understand each other, might they help each other?
When life turns upside down, where do you pin your hopes?
You may search high and low
But without that thing we call solidarity
Your efforts will be in vain.

Eldorado Theatre is known for its stunningly original productions based on unpublished works. The company appeals to young audiences with poetic stories and a highly physical acting style where movement complements the text and sets the pacing of the scenes. In this production, the company draws on the techniques of clowning to explore the expressiveness of tightly controlled movement. The two characters in the play (which earned playwright Geneviève Billette the Annick Lansman Prize) reflect experiences rarely depicted in theatre for young people. Far too many adults crack under pressure, and far too many children are affected by the stress of adults. Les ours dorment enfin is, unfortunately, all too relevant.

March 14, 15, 16 & 17, 2012 at 8 p.m. - Studio

Written, directed and performed by Marcel Pomerlo - Objective input: Dominique Leduc - Stage design: Cédric Lord and Marcel Pomerlo (based on the paintings of Marc Tremblay) - Costumes: Marcel Pomerlo - Music: Éric Forget - Video images: Vincent Rouleau - Props and costume assistant: Audrey Gaudet - Lighting: Marc Parent - Assistant director and stage manager: Martin Boisjoly - Production director: Lucie Mineau - Technical director: Geoffrey Levine - Muse: Geneviève Robitaille - Coproduced by Momentum and the National Arts Centre French Theatre

In the heart of a beautiful province lived a fragmented man who was “hanging on despite the in spite ofs.” He dreamed of perfect happiness: a little white house by the shore, the sky, the sea. Like a vintage Stradivarius, his soul emitted a particular harmony whenever he mentioned Sœur Yvette Saint-Sauveur, Chet Baker, Renoir, Louis-Cristobal Gauthier, Hermann Hesse, or even Lucette and Jean-Guy, his two faithful cactus plants. Though he didn’t realize it, Gaëtan Desrosiers-Blanc—for that was his name—had the amazing power to recognize and appreciate true Beauty wherever it occurred. His secret sanctuary, commonly known as the National Museum, was packed with all the jewels and treasures of the past, over which, with deep devotion, he kept watch by night. He also possessed the unusual ability to converse with forgotten masterpieces, and thus he gathered a lifetime’s worth of poetry. What a tale he could tell! And what glimpses of life has Gaëtan, in a moment of blinding inspiration, so generously decided to share with us?

- - - Moral - - -

There are many who, at least indirectly,
Are familiar with Gaëtan’s story,
Though they may not all realize it.
He is a modern-day sphinx
Who, though often overlooked or ridiculed,
Harbours a most valuable secret:
Namely, how to discover in Art
A great and dazzling force
With the power to revitalize the soul.

In this spare and luminous play, a delicate layering of literature and painting with joy and pain, Marcel Pomerlo (previously applauded by NAC audiences for his touching one-man show L’Inoublié ou Marcel Pomme-dans-l’eau: un récit-fleuve and for his staging of Bergman’s Sonate d’automne seamlessly interweaves art and life.


March 30 & 31 at 8 p.m. – Studio
For ages 11 and older

Based on the novel by Réjean Ducharme, published by Éditions Gallimard - Adapted, directed and designed by Sylvain Scott - Performed by Carmen Ferlan, Marie-Claude Guérin, Guillaume Tellier and Anne Trudel - Assistant director and stage manager: Dominique Cuerrier - Soundscape: Antoine Bédard - Lighting: Luc Prairie - Costumes: Linda Brunelle - Dramaturgical consultant: Martin Faucher - Production and technical director: Carlos Ponte - Technical director and stage manager: Nicolas Fortin - Produced by Théâtre Le Clou through a creative residency at La Maison de la culture Frontenac

Once upon a time there were three brave children:
First, the wounded one, neglected by her parents;
Second, the trusting one, serene but far too obedient;
And third, the handicapped one, the object of cruel taunts.

One day they decided to make a break
For the great ocean, to breathe deeply,
To wash away hurt, fear and disability,
To follow their childhood dreams of freedom.
You grownups may still remember
Your childhood hopes and dreams.
And so we invite you on a little nostalgia trip
As we share the adventures of three brave children.

Welcome to the world of renowned Quebec playwright Réjean Ducharme. Here, everything is powerful: characters who are sometimes exaggerated, sometimes almost monstrous, expressing themselves in language at once unvarnished and poetic. The conventions of theatre are skilfully used to illustrate the tragicomic push and pull between childhood and adult experience.

April 4, 5, 6 & 7, 2012 at 8 p.m. – Studio
Exclusive North American engagement
Performed in Arabic and French

Created, written and directed by Lina Saneh and Rabih Mroué - Stage design: Samar Maakaroun - Music: Charbel Haber - Translation: Masha Refka - Performed by Rabih Mroué, Lina Saneh and Charbel Haber - Image sequence production: Lina Saneh, Rabih Mroué and Sarmad Louis - Director of photography: Sarmad Louis - Assistant director and production coordinator: Petra Serhal - Costumes: Zeina Saab de Melero - Makeup: Stéphanie Aznarez - Performed by Rabih Mroué and Lina Saneh - Special appearance by Mona Mroué  - Coproduced by the Avignon Festival, Théâtre de l’Agora Scène nationale d’Evry et de l’Essonne, Festival/Tokyo, Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), L’Établissement public du Parc et de la Grande Halle de la Villette (Paris), Associazione Festival delle Colline (Turin), Ashkal Alwan Lebanese Association for the Plastic Arts (Beirut) - With the support of the Embassy of France in Lebanon, Service de Coopération et d’Action Culturelle (SCAC)

Once upon a time there was the strange and compelling story of two Lebanese artists who decided to use a classic film as the starting point for an in-depth exploration of their art and the distinctive characteristics of their native land. To make the project more engaging and thought-provoking, they fashioned a clever plot full of twists and turns—essentially an endless self-referential loop. They complemented it with a piano piece for four hands, a peculiar melody played in two octaves. The first referenced the meeting of two solitudes: a former left-wing activist living on the social and political fringes of present-day Lebanon, polarized by fundamentalism at one extreme and ultra-capitalism at the other; and a divorced housewife crushed and marginalized by family, domestic, financial, social and religious troubles. The second octave addressed the work of two creators at odds with an artistic censorship board. A peculiar chromatic theatrical balancing act!

- - - Moral - - -

Marginalization requires a lot of attention
And a little complacency.
Is it possible that sooner or later
It will be rewarded?
Diamonds and doubloons
Speak louder than words,
And even though enlightened ideas
Are worth a great deal more,
So far they have been seriously undervalued.

With Photo-Romance, Lina Saneh and Rabih Mroué continue their investigation into performance and representation. The play initiates a conversation between theatre, photography, film, music, politics, fact and fiction.


April 14 & 15, 2012 at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. – Salon
For ages 18 months to 4 years

Written and directed by Jasmine Dubé (based on a poem by Pierre Morency) - Artistic contributors: Patrice Charbonneau-Brunelle and the performers - Performed by Charles Dauphinais, Marie-Eve Huot, Pier-Luc Lasalle, Philomène Lévesque-Rainville - Paintings: Reno Hébert - Produced by Théâtre Bouches Décousues

“When I was a little tiny boy...
When I was a little tiny girl...
When I was a little tiny fish in the sea...
A little tiny fish in my mother...
I was just a wee bit of a boy...
A wee bit of a girl.”

So begins the journey:
With glimpses of yesterday, seeds of poems, bits of words, familiar lullabies.
Stars and planets sing their bewitching song.
The accordion sounds like the sea.
Pretty petals shimmer in the moonlight...
A little, a lot, passionately.
And on the other side of the world, Margaret smiles.

Marguerite started out as a theatre exercise for young artists, several of whom had taken the workshop in playwriting for very young audiences offered by Petits bonheurs and coordinated by Jasmine Dubé. At the turn of each season they got together to cultivate and tend their garden, and they unveiled the first young shoots of Marguerite at the Festival Petits bonheurs in May 2009.

April 25, 2012 – Les Trachiniennes at 7:30 p.m.
April 26, 2012 – Antigone at 7:30 p.m>
April 27, 2012 – Électre at 7:30 p.m.
April 28 & 29, 2012 – Les Trachiniennes+Antigone+Électre at 1:30 p.m.


North American premiere

Written by Sophocles - Translated by Robert Davreu - Directed by Wajdi Mouawad - Assistant director: Alain Roy - Artistic consultant: François Ismert - Stage design: Emmanuel Clolus - Costumes: Isabelle Larivière - Lighting: Eric Champoux - Original score: Bertrand Cantat, Bernard Falaise, Pascal Humbert and Alexander MacSween - Sound production: Michel Maurer - Makeup and hair: Angelo Barsetti - Performed by Pierre Ascaride, Bertrand Cantat, Olivier Constant, Sylvie Drapeau, Charlotte Farcet, Raoul Fernandez, Pascal Humbert, Patrick Le Mauff, Sara Llorca, Alexander MacSween, Marie-Eve Perron and Emmanuel Schwartz - Produced by Au Carré de l’Hypoténuse–France) and Abé Carré Cé Carré–Quebec) - Coproduced by the National Arts Centre French Theatre (Ottawa), Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers Centre dramatique national, Célestins Théâtre de Lyon, Théâtres départementaux de la Réunion, Mons 2015 – Capitale Européenne de la Culture, Le Manège – Centre dramatique de Mons, Théâtre Royal de Namur, Le Grand T Nantes scène conventionnée Loire-Atlantique, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (Montreal), Comédie de Genève – Centre dramatique, Maison de la Culture de Bourges – Scène nationale (with financial assistance from the Ministère de la culture et de la communication and Région Centre, the Conseil général du Cher, and the City of Bourges) and the Avignon Festival, the 2011 Barcelona Grec Summer Festival, and the Athens Festival through the Kadmos Network -With the support of Espace Malraux – Scène nationale de Chambéry, Théâtre 71 – Scène nationale de Malakoff, and Théâtre national de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées


One day the Gods decided, just for fun, to give men a taste of Freedom. Men fell upon it avidly and lost no time in testing their new power. Glory, honour, love—at last all were within their grasp. Destiny, hitherto dictated by the Gods, gave way to human might and desire. One man, drunk with power, became a despot. Another, dazzled by glory, decided it was perfectly acceptable to ridicule his family. A third chose a life of crime in order to ascend the throne.

All this did not go over well back on Mount Olympus, and the gods decided that something had to be done—and that this was a job for the women.

- Thus was born, of brotherly love, contentious politics with its bitter and lonely road. Idealism versus realism, responsibility versus destiny. A hard-fought battle, even unto the death.

- Thus developed filial love, reprisal for disgrace. Capital punishment for incest and murder. A father’s honour defended by his daughter.

- Thus emerged the torments and perils of jealousy. Conjugal love, with all its meanderings, is no long quiet river.


- - - Moral - - -

Is women’s power a gift from the gods?

Is men’s power an imitation of divinity?

Through their sacrifice, Antigone, Electra and Deianira glorify Freedom,

Which can only survive if it is universally respected.

With this presentation, Wajdi Mouawad fulfils a promise he made when he took over as artistic director of the National Arts Centre French Theatre. Des Femmes is the first instalment in his proposed series of Sophoclean tragedies, a farewell gift that challenges our notions of justice, democracy, law and crime.

Des Femmes
combines three tragedies written by Sophocles into one single production, and is an exploration of a dialogue that could occur between three women. Moving between reason and madness, the dialogue follows the narrow path of justice, and threatens at any time to fall off the precipice that runs alongside this path ? a precipice called revenge. While Les Trachiniennes examines how blind love can lead to one's death, Antigone asks whether or not enemies can ever make their peace with one another, and Électre offers us a glimpse of a world where justice has been replaced by age-old vengeance.

The presentation of Des Femmes at the NAC and at the TNM cannot happen without taking into account recent events as well as declarations by certain political figures who are currently engaged in the national election, regarding the strict application, and as imposed on one of the artists featured in the production of the rules governing entry at the Canadian border.

As such, the absence of this artist will be made felt throughout the production that will be unveiled on Canadian stages ? something that will attest to a unified show of support by the actors, creators and technicians involved in this artistic adventure towards one of their own.  

April 27 & 28, 2012 at 8 p.m. – Studio
For ages 14 and older

Written by Luc Tartar - Directed by Éric Jean - Assistant director and stage manager: Stéphanie Raymond - Performed by Francesca Bárcenas, Christian Baril, Matthieu Girard, Talia Hallmona and Béatrice Picard - Stage design: Magalie Amyot - Lighting: Martin Sirois - Costumes : Stéphanie Cloutier - Soundscape: Olivier Gaudet Savard - Produced by Théâtre Bluff

Out in the schoolyard, Jonathan and Latifa kissed. The incident would have gone unnoticed but for the shock wave that radiated from them with explosive force. The witnesses to the scene were struck speechless by the impact and dazzled by the incandescent story of bodies and emotions unfolding before them. Nothing made sense, everything was falling apart, nothing was certain any more: the only sure thing was this blinding flash of love, right here, right now.

Using an unconventional and engaging approach, S’embrasent takes an unabashed look at love at first sight, blending stories and personal recollections to investigate the power not just of passion, but of sexual attraction. Featuring renowned Quebec actress Béatrice Picard in her first role in a play for young audiences, S’embrasent reminds us that desire will have its way... at any age!

May 2, 3, 4 & 6, 2012 at 8 p.m. – Studio
Canadian premiere

Written and directed by Emmanuel Schwartz - Performed by Étienne Pilon, Francis La Haye, Éric Robidoux, Ève Pressault, Monia Chokri, Marie-France Marcotte, Bernard Meney, Émile Gilbert, Mani Soleymanlou, Guillaume Tellier + 2 to be announced - Dramaturg: Alice Ronfard - Sound: Nobody Nose (Francis LaHaye and Emmanuel Schwartz) - Sets: Julie Measroch - Lighting designer and technical director: Alex Pilon-Guay - Costumes: Frugzina Lanyi - Makeup and hair: David Mikaël - Assistant stage manager: Alexandra Sutto - Production director: Maryse Beauchesne - Administrator: Marianne Lamarre - Revisor: Sarah Berthiaume - Produced by Abé Carré Cé Carré–Québec

This is the story of a story in the history of a family, or rather a dynasty: the Benedicts of America, as captured by the acerbic pen of its phantasmagorical son and heir, Nathan, genealogist and lay prophet in training. Thus did the aspiring creator seek to deploy the absurd vocation that consisted of imposing upon the chaos of the world a structured, logical and irrefutable order.

Each time that, in the interest of his wildly ambitious goal, he mingled fact and fiction, the earth was swept by arid whirlwinds bearing the pestilential vapours of rape, murder, blood, incest, tears, colonization and overconsumption.

If you were hoping for a simple story, you would have done better to fall asleep and dream of Utopia. In this world, youth has been crushed and broken by violence; nothing is beautiful but Beauty itself. In this story, repressed feelings have ignited spontaneous combustion, and the spoken word has exposed the entrance to a yawning chasm laced with winding tunnels that lead to the meaning of things and the heart of personal experience.

- - - Moral - - -

There is no such thing as morality.
Anyone who thinks he is right or fair or certain
Is a fool, a liar and a vandal.
He has been shaped by the fear of rejection and unhappiness.
Faced with the reflection in the mirror of our own conscience,
Are we not all liars and fantasists?

Emmanuel Schwartz is a young playwright, director, actor and musician. NAC French Theatre audiences will remember him for his performance as Wilfrid in Wajdi Mouawad’s Littoral. He is also the co-artistic director of the theatre company Abé Carré Cé Carré–Québec.

May 26, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. and May 27, 2012 at 1:30 & 3:30 p.m. – Studio
For ages 3 to 6
Canadian premiere

Written by Suzanne Lebeau - Directed by Marie-eve Huot - Performed by Simon Labelle-Ouimet and Philomène Lévesque-Rainville - Assistant director: Dominique Cuerrier - Stage design: Patrice Charbonneau-Brunelle - Lighting design: Thomas Godefroid - Sound design: Nicolas Letarte - Costumes: Cynthia Saint-Gelais - Production and technical director: Dominique Gagnon - Stage managers: Dominique Gagnon and Éric Gendron - A new play produced by Théâtre le Carrousel

Whether you’re the serious type,
Always busy with something,
Or the cheerful type
But a bit lonely,
Night-time and thunder,
The unknown and its mysteries,
Can be just as scary
Invite your friends over
And share your feelings with them.
Day will chase the night away
And you will be happy.

Une lune entre deux maisons illustrates a pivotal period in a child’s development: the emergence of assertiveness. During this stage, children acquire a sense of themselves in relation to the world, to other people and to the unknown, and they begin to question their experiences. A fresh and original production by a new generation of artists for a new generation of audiences.


Once upon a time there were ten heroes who set out to find the Golden Fleece, in the form of Theatre…


The National Arts Centre French Theatre team decided to dedicate their cultural outreach efforts to helping them in their quest.

The purpose of the French Theatre Argonauts Club is to allow 10 theatre neophytes to share our artistic journey and discover and explore the many facets of the art of theatre. This enlightening voyage of (self-)awareness includes informal meetings and conversations with professional theatre artists; as well, the participants attend (free of charge) five key plays in French Theatre’s 2011-2012 season. Our objective (and our hope) is that through this unique and up-close experience, our 10 participants will acquire the keys to an artistic and cultural autonomy based not on academic credentials but on emotional responses and personal insights.


To join the Argonauts Club, you must:

- Be at least 18 years old

- Be a complete newcomer to theatre

- Be able to attend all Club activities during the season (see schedule on facing page)

How to apply

If you meet the admission requirements and are interested in participating in this theatrical adventure, please write to French Theatre telling us why you want to join the Argonauts Club and what appeals to you about the project. Please include your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address and birthdate. Application deadline: September 9, 2011.

Send your letter by e-mail to arahmani@nac-cna.ca or by regular mail to:

Aude Rahmani
Communications Officer
National Arts Centre French Theatre
53 Elgin Street / P.O. Box 1534, Station B
Ottawa, ON  K1P 5W1

Please note that participants will not be remunerated, travel expenses will not be reimbursed, and only successful applicants will be contacted.

- - - 2011-2012 Schedule - - -
French Theatre Argonauts Club

Thursday, September 29, 2011
6 p.m.-7 p.m.:    Pre-show meeting with a member of the Chante avec moi creative team
7:30 p.m.: Performance of Chante avec moi followed by audience Q&A

Thursday, November 24, 2011
6 p.m.-7 p.m.: Pre-show meeting with a member of the Jackie creative team
7:30 p.m.: Performance of Jackie followed by audience Q&A

Thursday, March 1, 2012
6 p.m.-7 p.m.: Pre-show meeting with a member of the Opéra de quat’sous creative team
7:30 p.m.: Performance of L’Opéra de quat’sous followed by audience Q&A

Thursday, April 5, 2012
6 p.m.-7 p.m.: Pre-show meeting with a member of the Photo-Romance creative team
8 p.m.: Performance of Photo-Romance followed by audience Q&A

Saturday, April 28, 2012
11 a.m.-12 p.m.: Pre-show meeting with a member of the Des Femmes creative team
1:30 p.m.: Performance of Des Femmes (Les Trachiniennes+Antigone+Électre)

L’Aiglon is an electronic newsletter for parents and teachers that complements French Theatre’s youth programming. Each issue contains information about upcoming activities for school groups and the general public, and special offers for teachers. To sign up, just send an e-mail to mcdicair@nac-cna.ca.

L’Oiseau-Tigre, les Cahiers du Théâtre français
Published twice a year, L’Oiseau-Tigre has only one ambition, only one purpose: to challenge and inspire. The content can include essays, tracts, poems, letters, stories, and reports—in short, any and all forms inspired either by the particular universe of a specific work, by the overall spirit and theme of the season, or by the creative vision of our featured artists and partners. L’Oiseau-Tigre is mailed free of charge to French Theatre subscribers; copies are also available in the display racks outside the NAC Box Office.

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. (The date of the Rencontre du jeudi for Des Femmes will be announced at a later date.)

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

House programs and microsites
For each show in the season, French Theatre produces a house program containing information about the play and the creative team, and contributions from some of the featured artists. The print program is handed out to audience members before the show; the content is also posted in advance on our website, along with photos, video clips, and background information about the artists and the show.¸

Study guides
Designed for students and teachers attending our school matinees, the study guides contain information about the play and its author and cultural context, as well as suggested activities to bring the performing arts experience into the classroom.

Laboratoire du Théâtre français – Spring 2012
Session leader to be announced

Inaugurated in 2002, French Theatre’s Laboratoire du Théâtre français (French Theatre Lab) is an annual workshop on the master class model, led by a seasoned theatre artist who shares his or her experience with professional colleagues from across the country. The Laboratoire provides a professional development opportunity for playwrights, directors and actors from different localities and backgrounds, and each year invites a dozen Franco-Canadian and Quebec artists to pause and reflect on their artistic practice, exchange with their peers, and explore original and challenging issues.

Residency at the Berlin Schaubühne
From 2008 to 2010, three Franco-Canadian playwrights (Emma Haché, Gilles Poulin-Denis and Luc Moquin) worked on new scripts under the mentorship of Wajdi Mouawad. For the 2011-2012 season, French Theatre has invited three Franco-Canadian stage directors— Anne-Marie White, Louise Naubert and Joël Beddows—to spend nearly three weeks at Berlin’s Schaubühne. There they will meet with some of Berlin’s foremost theatre artists and shadow Thomas Ostermeier, one of the most influential directors in contemporary theatre, whose remarkable staging of Hedda Gabler was presented at the NAC in 2009.

(Ms.) Aude Rahmani
Communications Officer, French Theatre
613-947-7000, ext. 396
Cell: 613-558-1322