DThe man who knows no present sits on a bench in the Berlin Schaubühne. He looks at his palms as he waits, as if reading his future. If you talk to him, he suddenly stands up and looks surprised. Look and smile and leave the other world.
Canadian theater producer Robert Lepage is still not known to many in Germany. Unlike Peter Brooke or Ariane Mnuchkin, who are the smiling faces of the World Theatre, Lepage, now sixty-four, is still considered an insider tip in this country. He was last invited to the Berliner Festspiel in 2006 with his “Andersen Project”. At the Find festival in the Berlin Schaubühne, the various works of the theater director, actor and filmmaker can be seen for the first time in a long time.
Less opinion, more poetry
He acts as his deputy. Not like a great artist who, with his company “X Machine”, has shown productions around the world, understood and celebrated in their dreamlike simplicity. However, Lepage does not have much time in the German theater – and interest in the other direction is also quite limited. What is staged on German forums usually strikes him as a little “opinionate”, he says quietly, too much to deliberately humiliate and defame the original play. “On the other hand, my point of view is: less opinion, more poetry”.
The works of a working-class kid born in Quebec City in 1957 really stand out because of their softly poetic, sometimes arrogant formal language. Lepage, who trained as an actor in Paris and was initially artistic director of the Théâtre Française in Ottawa, began touring in the early 1990s with his own projects – for example with “Needles and Opium”. , a play about Miles Davis and Jean Cocteau. In 1992 he staged Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as the first North American play at the Royal National Theater in London. In 1994 Lepage founded his company “Ex Machina” in Quebec – whose most famous production “The Seven Streams of the River Ota” (produced between 1994 and 1996) is now in Schaubühne, Berlin with a new cast and slightly modified version. is shown in. ,
For a few years, Lepage also worked with Cirque du Soleil, producing such spectacular productions as “La trilogie des dragons” and making good money with international guest performances. In 2015, he returned to the stage with Kalpana 887, a memoir about his childhood home. The production will also be shown in the Schaubühne on 9 and 10 April.
Lepage’s presentations are characterized by an unusual sensitivity to the body and moods, with texts and theory playing a subordinate role. The political sphere is usually only touched upon very carefully. “Basically, I rarely speak directly about current affairs,” says Lepage, because I prefer to convey what tells me about my time through body physicality or facial expressions. “
Violent debate in Canada
What happened in 2018 would have given this shy artist a tough fight. The Montreal Jazz Festival censored one of his productions under pressure from indigenous activists, who accused him of “disguising white actors as Afro-American slaves” and thus violating the dignity of the colony. Another Lepage work, Slava, in which only two of the seven performers on stage were black, also sparked heated debate in Canada and beyond.
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