October 2020 update on live performances and events at the NAC.

Ersatz

© Judith Poitras

ERSATZ, adj. (Of a product) Made or used as a substitute for a product that has become rare.

An interview with Mélanie Dumont about a mysterious theatrical product to be launched in mid-October.

What is Ersatz?

Concretely, it’s a web platform, an all-terrain, multidisciplinary discovery platform whose starting point, whose catalyst is theatre. The concept is simple: starting from a given theatrical creation—you can watch the trailer, read the description and, why not, browse the whole script—a multitude of small doors are presented in the form of vignettes. These in turn open up an array of discoveries, activities and learning opportunities to explore at home or in the classroom.

For example, based on Le problème avec le rose, an exhilarating show presented last December, you might be invited to develop a mood board under the guidance of an expert—the show’s set designer, no less—to explore gender issues or discover some unusual and surprising facts about the colour pink. The content is eclectic, diverse and spontaneous. And resources and references are always available if you want to explore further. 

In a nutshell, Ersatz is a curiosity, something we envisioned as a little amorphous. In fact, for a while it was called Pseudopods!

Where did the idea for this platform come from?

The pandemic brought live shows to a grinding halt. From one day to the next, we could no longer welcome audiences to our theatres; the connection between theatre and children was brutally severed, and we didn’t know how long the disruption would last. But since theatre is our domain, the place where we think and from which we want to initiate sharing, we spontaneously started to create all sorts of vignettes around shows that had been cancelled. These vignettes were sent out in the spring in the form of newsletters, but the project was subsequently expanded, and it continued to develop, inspired by shows presented by French Theatre over the years that left their mark on our imaginations, such as Le problème avec le rose and Traversée. We wanted to make this content freely available in one place and at all times, hence the web platform.

Basically, since live performances can’t happen, at least for the time being, we wanted to continue to make theatre a vibrant hub from which to explore the world, life, the human experience.

If you had to describe Ersatz in terms of:

A colour: Too many come to mind, I can’t choose.

A smell: Sweet and salty popcorn.

A sound: A brass band playing a repertoire that includes pop, hip-pop, maybe a little punk, or a giant hall with lots of sizzling circuits; in any case, it’s joyful, it’s colourful, it crackles.

A food: Right off the top of my head, I think of a tuber, like ginger root.

A texture: Embossed paper.

What are your hopes for the platform’s visitors/users?

I wish them a free and joyful experience. I sincerely hope that it will be rich in discoveries and experiments, and that their visit will spark their desire to create and learn. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that school workshops will also be offered in connection with Ersatz.


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