An activist and performance artist, Pascale Drevillon explodes our vision of a binary world. Explore with her the wide spectrum of possible genders.
A performance artist and activist for the rights of transgender people, Pascale Drevillon explodes our vision of a binary world. Observe along with her a chrysalis struggling to live. Discover the androgynous, follow a violent young man, a misfit. Watch as he metamorphoses into a doll in flamboyant makeup. Witness the emergence of a complex and poignant human being. Explore the spectrum of possible genders.
Every gesture of preparing for the transformation is captivating. Time is distended, the artist moulds her new form, her reinvented self. On video or in photos, other testimonials make their appearance. Present since the dawn of time, transgender identity here becomes a courageous odyssey of the soul through myriad alternatives. Our attributes are perhaps not as specific and unchangeable as we think. One thing, though, is certain—we are all part of the human race.
Produced by Pascale Drevillon + Geoffrey Gaquère
Created and performed by Pascale Drevillon
Directed by Geoffrey Gaquère
Performer and Stage Manager Andréanne Samson
Set Design Léa Pennel
Lighting Design Cédric Delorme-Bouchard
Video Julien Blais
Choreographed by Mélanie Demers
Music Le Bleu (Nicolas Basque + Adèle Trottier-Rivard)
Production Director Caroline Ferland
Technical Director Sarah Laval
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques
Presented in association with Agora de la danse
Creative residencies Espace Libre + Maison de la culture Maisonneuve + École supérieure de théâtre de l’UQAM
Written by Diane Jean
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, on May 31, 2019
Pascale Drevillon (Montreal)
An actress outside the norm, Pascale Drevillon studied acting and performance at UQAM and graduated in 2015.
In 2017 she made her mark playing the lead role in the short film PRE-DRINK by Marc-Antoine Lemire. Presented at over sixty film events, it received a number of awards, notably at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois and the Toronto International Film Festival. She collaborates with other committed artists such as Dave St-Pierre, and is part of the Cool Cunts collective, which performed in 2017-18 at the ZH Festival, at the UQAM Gallery and in a Short and Sweet event at the FTA 2017. Her choice of roles is focused on unique stories and performances, whether Platonov, amour, haine et angles morts, a Chekhov adaptation by Angela Konrad, or La guérilla de l’ordinaire by Marie-Ève Milot and Marie-Claude Saint-Laurent.
Genderf*cker was presented as a work-in-progress at the ZH Festival and the Festival Phénomena in 2018.
Geoffrey Gaquère (Montreal)
Born and raised in Belgium, the actor and director Geoffrey Gaquère settled in Quebec in 1996.
Passionate about creating new work, he co-founded Théâtre Debout in 2008, produced and directed Enquête sur le pire by Fanny Britt at Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui and Dénominateur commun by François Archambault and Emmanuelle Jimenez, presented at La Licorne. As an actor he has performed at the TNM for the directors René Richard Cyr and Alice Ronfard, and also in Moi, dans les ruines rouges by Olivier Kemeid at the Quat’Sous. In 2014 he became artistic director and co-general manager of the Théâtre Espace Libre, where he co-directed Camillien Houde “le p’tit gars de Sainte-Marie” as part of Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.
Your performance is conceived in terms of your transgender identity. You explore binary models of femininity and masculinity in fashion, makeup and postures, and all the transformations take place in front of the spectators. Why take the time to construct and to deconstruct that metamorphosis onstage?
Pascale Drevillon: Gender is not a before and after, but more of a long journey. I thought that a performance that unfolds over time would be powerful enough to have the audience experience that journey, would bring something to me and also to the whole question of transgender.
The journey is not necessarily autobiographical, but follows a certain logic of what I experienced. It begins with a neutrality, an evocation of the foetus, the process of becoming a gender. Then when I change into that very unhappy, violent boy, I invoke the person I was at 17 when I ran into a brick wall and realized that I needed to undergo a transition.
Then I incarnate a woman who is very much a “Barbie doll”, which was me just after all my surgeries when I felt that I had to be the perfect woman with a very restrictive lifestyle. Those are not characters as such, but rather versions of myself. I find all that to be almost spiritual in nature.
I am in the company of third gender people like me, who have always been present, at all times and in all societies: the muxes of Mexico, the hijras in India, the Two-Spirits of Amerindian tribes. I feel as though I am a sort of shaman invoking those connected communities.
You perform in venues where the audience is fairly open and curious. How can you reach out to less sophisticated spectators?
P.D.: With this show I would like to perform in other places, cities known for their intolerance, which is dangerous, subversive gesture. I know a blogger who had to stay in the international zone of the Dubai airport because it is illegal to be trans there. In many other places it is also extremely difficult to assume a transgender identity.
I would go crazy if I let myself get sucked into that, which is why I’m a performer, where I hope to make a difference. We are a cell of resistance. There is a lot of talk in the media now about trans-identity, but it is treated in superficial fashion, using trans people as documentary subjects. Instead of emphasizing difference, I want to concentrate on what connects us.
Geoffrey Gaquère: Through her artistic work, Pascale shows us how gender is in fluctuation throughout a person’s life. To identify someone only by his or her sexual identity is to ignore the fact that sexuality is a vast spectrum. The experience portrayed is unknown territory that we should explore from the point of view of humanity, in order to understand what it consists of.
In Montreal, there is very little exploration of gender by young Francophone artists. This is a new avenue with room for new cultural expressions about gender. We must step beyond the given limits of hetero-normative strictures. We are in a moment in the history of humanity when more and more voices are being heard, the voices of the invisible, the previously unheard.
P.D.: I talk not only about inclusion, but also about diversity. Cultural presentations on television and in the theatre, and the actors and audience themselves, are excessively white. The dominant lobby that would have us believe that all is well is often represented by white male homosexuals, which to a certain extent constitutes the elite of difference. It’s time to move on to the next stage.
So if more diverse genders were represented in all social spheres, it would lead to greater openness and tolerance?
P.D.: The trans actress Laverne Cox notes that 84% of Americans have never met a trans person. That makes a big difference in terms of representativeness, of inclusion. If people have no experience with that reality, they can’t understand it. That’s why in my show I invite the audience to move around, to approach me.
G. G.: During a performance at the Phénomena festival, there was a child sitting in the audience and I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a girl. The child was hypnotized by the show, asking its mother to stay a bit longer, and didn’t want to leave. For that moment alone, it’s worth pursuing this journey.
“A monumental yet intimate portrayal of a woman in transition. […] We were especially taken by the lead actress, who gives one of the best performances in the entire programme—and for me personally, the entire festival.”
Johnny Ma, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) awards ceremony, 2017-09-17, about Pascale Drevillon’s performance in short film Pre-Drink
“As an artist, I’ve given myself the mission to help other people become more human through the stories I tell. This starts with visibility and inclusion, telling the right story from the clearest point of view. There needs to be a sharper focus on those who we don’t know, those we fear.”
Pascale Drevillon, Tiff.net, 2019-01-09