Street closures around the NAC during Ottawa Race Weekend

NAC French Theatre

2022-2023 SEASON

© Olivier Jean

Mani Soleymanlou Artistic director

Building the future together

“Courage is something you have to commit to.” 
—Souleymane Bachir Diagne 

It’s really tough. 
For several days now, or maybe months—almost two years, actually—, I’ve been telling myself that I’d eventually have to write a message from the “artistic director.” 


It’s tough.  
I should be able to put my vision of things, or at least of theatre, into words. I mean, it’s what I do for a living. It’s pretty much ALL I do: theatre. 

But since March 2020, this passion that takes up pretty much all my time, all my thoughts, this art that helps me to maybe understand the world a little better, has been shaken to its core. And so have I. 

Fragile, that’s how I feel. 


So once again, unable to find the right words to put on paper, I err on the side of doubt. 

I share my inability to express myself with those who read or watch me. 

It’s easier for me to stage the path I’ve travelled, to describe the dense forest where the idea hides than to put that idea into words. 

It’s become a way to speak, to escape, to avoid diving in. And it works. 

Just look: right now, I’m not saying anything, I’m taking you hostage and telling you about my inability to tell you anything. 


It’s convenient. 
And if I were to venture even further into this inability to tell, to dive even deeper into this doubt, how far would you follow me? 

What if I invited you into the dense forest of doubt and uncertainty where I wander almost all the time? 

What if this is what happens next: wandering together, hand in hand, or at least side by side, in the uncertain future that our present is shaping? 

And if we all agree that what comes next will be difficult, will you be there with me? 

What if we were meant to write the rich and beautiful story of French Theatre together? 

I’d love to know you were there. 
To know we were together. 
I’d still feel fragile, but I’d be less alone. 
So I’m extending the invitation. 
You’re invited to follow me, to follow us, to try to put into words, to define. 
You’re invited to figure out the rest, together. 
To dive into uncertainty. 
Together. 

It’ll be fun. 

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