La conquête du béluga
Nature Is Watching Us
At dawn or at sunset, five members of parliament address a crowd on the shore of the St. Lawrence River. They talk about fishing rights, the economy, protecting marine species. Their powerful, direct voices mix with the captivating sounds of the marine mammals at the heart of the debate. Originally created for the quay in Carleton-sur-Mer on Chaleur Bay by Théâtre À tour de rôle, this theatrical reading delivered by performers from the Gaspé Peninsula is going on the road for a meeting with the St. Lawrence. It’s a spectacular epic combining geopolitics and poetry.
A masterfully crafted work by multidisciplinary artist Maryse Goudreau, La conquête du béluga features selected transcripts from 150 years of debates about belugas in Canada’s House of Commons. While conveying the unedited words of ministers and deputies, Goudreau chooses to show, among others, the influence of female politicians and subtly introduces the Inuit’s essential perspective on our relationship with these fascinating animals. It’s a poignant reflection on our connection to living things.
Produced by Théâtre À tour de rôle
Conceived by Pascale Joubert + Dany Michaud
Text Maryse Goudreau
Directed by Johanne Haberlin
Dramaturgy, Set Design, Text originally adapted and directed by Philippe Cyr
Performed by Catherine Audet + Pierre-André Bujold + Kevin Doyle + Johanne Lebrun + Dany Michaud
Sound Design Richard Dunn with the participation of Melissa Girvan from recordings by Maryse Goudreau
Advisor Guy Sioui Durand
Translation and voice in Inuktitut Nancy Angilirq
Stage Manager Jean-François Dugas
Co-produced by Festival TransAmeriques
With the support of Ville de Carleton-sur-Mer + Centre d’artistes Vaste et Vague (Carleton-sur-Mer)
Premiered at quay in Carleton-sur-Mer on July 31, 2021
Written by Sophie Gemme
Translated by David Dalgleish
About the artists
Maryse Goudreau (Escuminac)
A multidisciplinary artist from the Gaspé Peninsula, Maryse Goudreau began a long cycle of work about belugas in 2012. She studied their behaviour and political and poetic significance, dove with them, filmed them, and recorded their sounds, building up a comprehensive archive. Aligned with an eco-feminist approach, her hybrid work combines photography, video, installation, performance, visual art, writing, and documentary research.
She began to tackle political discourse with Histoire sociale du béluga (2016), in which she painstakingly compiled statements from Quebec’s Legislative Assembly covering almost 100 years. Her immersive sonic and tactile installation Dans le ventre de la baleine (2019) simulates the sensations experienced when diving underwater with belugas. Renowned for her long-term projects in the field, Goudreau received the Prix Lynne-Cohen (MNBAQ) in 2017 and the 2020 Gaspé Peninsula artist of the year award from the CALQ.
Théâtre À tour de rôle (Carleton-sur-Mer)
A vital creative hub based in Carleton-sur-Mer in the Gaspé Peninsula, Théâtre À tour de rôle initiated and produced this stage adaptation of Goudreau’s work. The company, which has been producing and promoting theatre arts since 1985, focuses on powerful texts by francophone authors and maintains strong links with the community. Pascale Joubert, who recently succeeded Dany Michaud as artistic director and general manager, is generating a new buzz around the company by, among others, favouring a hybrid approach to art.
To lead its Montreal adventure, Théâtre À tour de rôle is turning to actress and director Johanne Haberlin. She will pick up the torch following the first staging by Philippe Cyr in the summer of 2021, bringing to the project her subtle approach to writing and her exceptional skill in directing actors.
With a particular affection for Quebec’s creative talent, Haberlin has been an artistic consultant to Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui’s artistic director since 2017. She co-founded the OFFTA and teaches acting at the National Theatre School of Canada. In the fall of 2021, she co-directed Akuteu, a poetic, autobiographical show by Soleil Launière.
“I wanted to give a voice to the animal and plant world, to consider other ways of listening and feeling.”