This interview took place in St-Pierre-de-Wakefield on Friday, July 30, 2021, as part of the Champ libre creative residency hosted by the National Arts Centre (NAC) French Theatre. Present at the meeting were Karina Pawlikowski and Julien Morissette, accompanied by author and friend Antoine Charbonneau-Demers. We would like to thank the NAC and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) for their financial support.
[00:22:27.140] - Antoine
If you don’t mind my asking, what’s it like for you? The relationship between writing and your life? If you feel like talking about it.
[00:22:42.560] - Karina
What’s really weird is that creatively, we work as a couple. We started this joint practice a few years ago; although we each have our own practice, we still have a shared practice. Then, through writing, we began to want to open up the couple. To see what that might generate.
[00:23:17.070] - Antoine
You really brought that into the project, into the spirit …
[00:24:21.520] - Karina
Yes, and it’s fiction, but I mean …
[00:24:24.370] - Julien
[00:24:24.450] - Karina
There are dialogues in it, there are a few dialogues we might have had in real life and transcribed verbatim, and they would be exactly the same, or just about …
[00:24:32.360] - Julien
It blurs together. That’s it, it blurs, but it’s really cool too, because sometimes months go by between a reading and a rereading and a conversation about it. But yes, I think it sparked a desire to change the trajectory, to let ourselves be influenced.
[00:25:10.490] - Karina
As much as we want to experience it for real, we want to see the effect it has. It’s to test the … to check the content of the work. It’s ... It feeds the work, too. So that’s why in a way we provoked it, while going slowly, without ... But what’s also strange is that by provoking it, it’s detrimental to the work because it involves endless conversations.
[00:25:44.010] - Julien
Yes, there were three days this week where we did hardly any work, because every time, the work led to a discussion about it. Like, applying it to our relationship and not to the project.
[00:25:54.940] - Antoine
But how do you tell the difference?
[00:25:58.960] - Karina et Julien
It’s as if there were none.
[00:28:17.310] - Karina
But then, what happened this week in our discussions. At one point we were having difficult discussions about how to combine this non-monogamous relationship with a bunch of other things. And we thought about the idea of staging a break-up in our relationship to see how it felt. And that’s when it became ...
[00:28:41.200] - Julien
[00:48:06.730] - Julien
Is this conversation making you uncomfortable?
[00:48:07.720] - Antoine
No, not at all. On the contrary, it’s really interesting. I hope it doesn’t make you uncomfortable to be sharing it with me.
[00:48:20.540] - Julien
No, not at all.
[00:48:20.540] - Karina
It doesn’t make me uncomfortable. I’m trying to remember in a more theoretical way, this subject in relation to others, to test, umm, the necessity or the importance of this subject, in this project? I’m not against it ...
[00:48:47.720] - Julien
No, but it might be, it’s funny, but I wonder why it comes up/
[00:48:52.810] - Karina
/all the time
[00:48:53.410] - Julien
/all the time. We’ve laid the foundation; the project’s working title is La Lenteur [“slowness”].
[00:48:59.050] - Antoine
[00:48:59.050] - Julien
And. Sometimes I wonder if we’re not trying too hard to introduce the subject of non-monogamy into this project because we didn’t exhaust it in our previous project, Les amours extraordinaires.
[00:49:11.440] - Antoine
But why? If you feel this is the subject you want to work on, why not focus on it?
[00:49:24.060] - Karina
[00:49:24.060] - Antoine
[00:49:24.420] - Karina
Because it’s exhausting …
[00:49:26.450] - Antoine
[00:49:29.440] - Karina
And that’s what makes it good as well.
[00:49:30.546] - Antoine
That’s what makes it good.
[00:49:31.405] - Julien
[00:49:58.340] - Julien
But I wasn’t expecting … What you just said, Karina, about its being exhausting—I wasn’t expecting you to say that.
[00:50:03.320] - Karina
Ah, it’s exhausting; I’m drained, I’ve felt that way since … umm … That’s one of the reasons I went to stay overnight in Aylmer: I was drained, I needed to spend a night at home. With my stuff.
[00:50:12.875] - Julien
[00:50:14.360] - Karina
I was so tired. As the whole current context drains me totally, all my energy, it’s ... So that’s why if there’s something that scares me, it’s to continue exploring this subject creatively, because ... because it involves a lot.
[00:50:38.560] - Julien
And it affects everything, it’s an all-consuming project, but we put our finger on it this week; I told myself, if we get involved in this project, it puts … I don’t know, it’s as if it weakens all the other projects that don’t touch on that—the family, the couple. It’s, it’s …
[00:50:54.070] - Karina
That’s what’s intense … It’s because there’s something about over-naming things, too. I don’t know if you feel it? You know, this morning when we woke up, we were really in love, it ... it’s like it had come back. And now we’ve just re-explored this subject, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but it’s ...?
[00:51:40.000] - Julien
There’s tension between us?
[00:53:15.180] - Antoine
Maybe there’s a way to work on that, on the heaviness. Maybe turning it into something productive will bring happiness.
[00:53:28.910] - Julien
“Slowness” has become “heaviness” ...
[00:53:33.200] - Antoine
Because sometimes, exactly, it’s draining, because you don’t even know what you’re going to do with it? I don’t know, I’m far from being in your shoes, but if it’s so draining, it’s probably because it’s also so powerful. Sometimes re-channeling that energy towards ... you know, productivity, that’s also. Precisely, taking things that are important to us—whether we like it or not—, that take up space, and then transforming them into positive, happy, joyful production ... Writing, for me, is also that: it’s making something out of what haunts me, or what prevents me from living fully. Or drains me completely. And at that point, producing, it can, I’m sure it can become less draining. Because when you’re drained, it’s because you’re putting energy into something that’s going nowhere.