Montreal, June 8, 2016 – The atmosphere tonight at the Quartier général of the FTA will no doubt be one of excitement as the 10th edition of the Festival TransAmériques comes to a close. Over the past two weeks, from May 26 to June 8, 2016, 25 theatre and dance shows and events electrified Montreal stages during the FTA. This second festival under artistic director Martin Faucher attracted some 53 500 festivalgoers with an attendance rate of an amazing 97%, a new record. Keenly interested in contemporary theatre and dance, the public eagerly responded to the call of the artists, and in fact 15 shows of the 22 presented in theatre venues were sold out.

2016 Snapshot:

  • 53 500 festivalgoers
  • 97% attendance
  • 15 shows sold out
  • 70 performances of 25 shows from 8 different countries (Germany, Belgium, Canada, USA, France, Italy, Holland, Switzerland)
  • 12 co-productions, including one international co-production
  • 11 new works, including 10 world premières
  • 10 North American premières
  • 78 parallel activities presented as part of the FTA Playgrounds (meetings with artists, discussions, films, theatre workshops, master classes, celebrations)
  • 2072 overnight stays generated directly by FTA activities
  • 140 presenters and programmers from 20 countries (Germany, England, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Spain, USA, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Wales, Holland, Switzerland)
  • 128 artists from 17 countries (Germany, England, Austria, Belgium, Canada, South Korea, Spain, USA, France, Greece, Italy, Holland, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland)
  • 181 accredited journalists, 20 of them from outside Quebec (Germany, Belgium, Canada, USA, France, Israel, Italy, Japan)

Cry for Help for our Future

If there is one overriding idea apparent in the artistic proposals presented during this 10th edition, it is that they bear witness to the end of an era. Each in its own way reflects a world coming to an end, exhausted and falling apart, a world that needs to be reconstructed. This necessary renewal and the need to redefine ourselves as a collective were expressed through the body and in words and materials in an aesthetic diversity of contrasts, from opulence to destitution, darkness to joy.

From the hilarious opening piece Une île flottante / Das Weisse vom Ei, a return visit to the FTA by theatre master Christoph Marthaler, time was thrown out of kilter, bodies were loose and slack, stages were bare. The Black Piece continued in that vein by portraying people who hide, who flee, who struggle to be together. Jamais assez was a poetic dance for the end of the world that celebrated the incredible vigour of mankind. The Italian artists Daria Deflorian and Antonio Tagliarini demanded the right to say no to this pitiless world in two theatrical gems (Ce ne andiamo per non darvi altre preoccupazioni and Reality) imbued with salutary force and sensitivity, stirring hope to continue despite everything.

Technology remains an implacable tool for evoking the world we live in. While in Con grazia machines growled and roared, ready to destroy what man has not managed to demolish, Siri portrayed with humour the advances and the weaknesses of artificial intelligence. These intriguing digital possibilities were also at the heart of the ambitious phantasmagoric opera project L’autre hiver, whose second performance unfortunately had to be cancelled, ironically because of technological failure.

This edition of the FTA was characterized by liberating laughter, from hearty laughs to mirthless laughter or cynical laughter distilling discomfort. That was the case with The Ventriloquists Convention, where inanimate objects come to life, the better to reveal human fragility, while in Logique du pire, people’s worse thoughts were expressed in caustic, mordant language.

And of course, kudos to the work of grand master Romeo Castellucci and the journey of humanity as seen in Go Down, Moses, touching festivalgoers with its force, mystery and refinement.

The stage remains a splendid site for transcendence, for going beyond limits, as Louise Lecavalier once again so admirably demonstrated with Mille batailles, as did the tireless dancers in multiform(s) and the amazing Trajal Harrell and his “Don’t stop” chanting in Judson Church is Ringing in Harlem (Made-to-Measure).

Dance and theatre have always been places for questioning identity. Mercurial George by Dana Michel plunged into the heart of the matter with a fascinating intrusion into urban marginality. And in a exercise in mass seduction, Pieter Ampe portrayed the vulnerability and dignity of the modern male in So You Can Feel, while Manon Oligny, inspired by a feminist essay by Martine Delvaux, aimed to deprogram the conditioning of lookalike girls in Fin de série. In Pluton – acte 2, the identities and artistic approaches of older and younger dancers were blended together by La 2e Porte à Gauche and merged in a dynamic interchange, an intergenerational encounter finely portrayed in the exhibit Hydra.

To better engage a contemporary audience, the usual limits of the stage were often ignored. In Nos serments, filmed sequences were in direct dialogue with conventional codes of theatre. For J’aime Hydro, Christine Beaulieu spent months and indeed years conducting a passionate inquiry into Hydro-Québec in a remarkable gesture of engagement. The performer Stewart Legere delivered in Let’s not Beat Each Other to Death a poignant appeal on violence before inviting the audience to join him on stage for a freeing celebration. Set in the heart of Place des Arts, the architectural, sound and dance installation Corps secret / Corps public intrigued and disturbed many passersby at all hours of the day. For 2Fik, occupying the public space at Place des Festivals meant adopting quite a different approach. Throughout the 36 hours of the performance, he tirelessly shared his artistic approach with spectators keen to see his delightfully mad reinterpretation of the legend of the Chasse-galerie.

The Festival culminated in the festive event of Jérôme Bel’s Gala, his first-ever visit to the FTA. Bodies young and old were magnificently featured onstage in a joyous amalgam featuring both professional and amateur dancers.

What is in store for the 11th edition of the Festival TransAmériques in 2017? The FTA announces proudly that the documentary theatre play 100 % Montréal by the German company Rimini Protokoll will be the opening piece of the next festival, presented in collaboration with the Société des célébrations du 375e anniversaire de Montréal. The complete program will be announced in March 2017, and the festival will take place from May 25 to June 8, 2017.

Read the full press release