Exploring the deep as they search for glimpses of light, Marie Brassard and her Japanese collaborators conjure undreamt-of worlds in a surreal tale of astounding visual power.
Remembered words of a child muse written on a blackboard: “And chaos knocked on God’s door.” For Marie Brassard that sparks a plunge into the mystery of creation/destruction synergy. Giving free rein to the coincidences and shock waves of that union, she conjures up undreamt-of worlds in a surreal tale of astounding visual power.
In an elegant technological phantasmagoria, the threats of mankind and of nature merge in a series of glowering landscapes. Marie Brassard is assisted by her loyal team and by the creative voices of Japanese artists. Inspired by Ama, the Japanese women free-divers who harvest shellfish , they become here explorers of the deep in search of bursts of light. The hope of a new mythology where ancient and future worlds live side by side, opening up to a new horizon.
Produced by Infrarouge
Written, directed and performed by Marie Brassard
Sound Design and Live Music Alexander MacSween
Set Design and Stage Manager Antonin Sorel
Lighting Design Mikko Hynninen
Synthesized Images and Live Video Performance Sabrina Ratté
Images from Japan Editing Nicolas Dufour-Laperrière
Dramaturgy Advisor Morena Prat
Team in Japan
Performed by Miwa Okuno + Kyoko Takenaka
Video Shingo Ota
Choreographed by Miwa Okuno
Production Manager Moemi Nagi
Sound Technicians Takeshi Inamori + Hayato Ichimura
Technical Direction Romane Bocquet + Catherine Fasquelle + Mateo Thébaudeau
Production and Tour Manager Anne McDougall
Set Design Assistant and Head Technician Andrew de Freitas
Sound Manager Gabrielle Couillard
Lighting Manager Érik Nowosielski-Lamoureux
Video Technology Design Guillaume Arsenault
Le temps des cerises Jean Baptiste Clément + Antoine Renard
Kaimono Boogie [Boogie] Ryoichi Hattori
Administrative Director Jacinthe St-Pierre
Coordination Catherine Sasseville
Tour Agent Menno Plukker
Co-produced by Festival TransAmériques + Theater der Welt (Düsseldorf) + Théâtre français du Centre national des Arts (Ottawa) + Athens and Epidaurus Festival (Athens) + Usine C
Developed with the support of National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund (Ottawa)
Creative residencies Montevideo (Marseille) + Usine C + Vitlycke Center for Performing Art (Tanumshede) at the invitation of Göteborg Dance and Theatre Festival + Kinosaki International Art Centre + Saison-Morishita Studio (Tokyo)
Thanks to Marcello Spada & Cinema-Teatro Apollo (Bellaria) + Yokna Hasegawa
Presented by ARTV in association with Place des Arts
Written by Myriam-Stéphanie Perraton-Lambert
Translated by Neil Kroetsch
Premiered at Festival TransAmériques, Montreal, on May 27, 2021
Marie Brassard (Montréal) Infrarouge
The actor, writer, director and founder of Infrarouge Marie Brassard is an alchemist of the stage.
Somewhere between digital art and live art, she subjects artistic matter to the laws of transformation, resulting in works of great maturity built on the slopes of our virtual and imagined realities.
In 2001 she presented her first solo piece at the FTA, Jimmy créature de rêve. That original work was a major turning point in her artistic career and also the start of her relationship with the Festival, where she has presented seven remarkable shows, including Peepshow (2005) and Trieste (2013). An initial prototype of Violence, entitled Introduction à la violence, was presented at Usine C in May 2019. It marked her return to the stage after directing La vie utile by Evelyne de la Chenelière (Espace GO, FTA, 2018) and Éclipse at Théâtre de Quat’Sous (2020).
In works that echo with remembered feeling, Brassard shares her affinity for specific places, particularly Japan. She first went there 28 years ago to play Lady Macbeth next to Robert Lepage, with whom she had a 15-year artistic collaboration that began with La trilogie des dragons in 1985. More recently, in autumn 2017 she directed a Japanese version in Tokyo of her moving tribute to Nelly Arcan, La fureur de ce que je pense (FTA, 2017). That was when she met Miwa Okuno, dancer and choreographer, whom worked again with her on Violence. Also part of the creative team are Kyoko Takenaka, actress and Shingo Ota, filmmaker, who agreed to dive into the adventure at the last minute.
“It looks like a small but not yet born Japanese flower.” That phrase, which planted the seed for this piece, was uttered by your goddaughter Léone. Are your thoughts about language and childhood a big part of Violence?
Children say such intriguing things. They’ve capable of intricate thinking at a young age. That phrase as well as “And chaos knocked on God’s door” are two good examples. When uttered those words touch us, but we very soon forget them. We don’t make the same effort to try to see what’s behind that thinking, to understand where it’s coming from and where it might lead us. There is a magnificent statement by the writer John Berger: “If you want to know where you are going, look where the children are coming from.” I think that one of the first acts of violence we face as children is abandoning that singular voice, holding it in check, amending it for more appropriate speech. As children grow older they change and become themselves, but they are also put to the test, made to conform. The first part of Violence, Introduction à la violence, which was presented at Usine C last spring, is a response to that.
When you see the title Violence, you might expect it to be about physical violence and its social, political and economic ramifications. There is a bit of that in this piece, of course, but I want to isolate that word from all those concepts. This is not a manifesto. I let the violence transpire in tableaux designed with the artists working on this project.
A substantial section of the project was created in part in Japan, in Kinosaki and in Tokyo, in collaboration with Japanese artists. What was the creative impetus that led you to explore other perceptions of time, existence and violence with those women?
The initial spark for this piece occurred in Tokyo when I visited a group show entitled Catastrophe and the Power of Art: What Art can do in Chaotic Times where the Future is Uncertain. I was accompanied by Antonin Sorel, the project’s set designer. The Japanese are constantly living under the threat of natural catastrophes caused by the destructive presence of mankind. With Violence I wanted to explore that aspect by asking how my work as an artist might interact with that reality. I’m very concerned about the social and environmental challenges we are facing. In the years to come, the majority of art works will bear traces of the approaching collapse.
The creative residency in Japan grew out of a desire to find myself in another universe, to experience a cultural immersion. I wanted the presence of Japanese artists to evoke a Japan of the past and also a contemporary, indeed futurist Japan. I am keen to know what ties them to the past and what the future invokes. As is the case in kabuki theatre, I wanted a dramatic revelation at a certain point in the show, a reversal of fortune, a character’s true nature suddenly revealed. I want theatre and creative art, as a shared subconscious, to be a gesture of solidarity, resonance and sharing. That was my impetus.
The piece begins with Léone’s phrase, which is an invitation to creativity, whereas violence, at the theoretical level, summons an urge for destruction. How do you explain that contradiction?
The idea of a new beginning at a time when the world is on the verge of collapse is also incarnated in Léone’s image. That little flower, as yet unborn, indicates something that will arrive in the future but that might have also already existed. It evokes the idea of an antechamber where the spirits wait, perhaps, for the moment of their (re)incarnation. And it is in that vestibule that the piece unfolds.
I see destruction and creation as being intertwined. Nature emerges from that symbiosis. It is a destructive force with its tidal waves and earthquakes, but also a creative force, as it gives birth to life. It incarnates a cycle of violence that is part of our ecosystem. That idea is clearly apparent in kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery, mending the breaks with lacquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum. It is a powerful metaphor and a major inspiration for us. I see it as a hymn to time and continuance, an ode to the beauty of old age, the sanctity of experience that can only be acquired over time.