Bridging the gap between English and French theatre at the Wildside Remix Festival

Étienne Lepage’s renowned work takes the stage of the Centaur in a new English version until March 5

Wildside Remix Festival is taking place at the Centaur Theatre until March 12, where they are currently presenting the English translation of Logic of the Worst, a theatre piece by Étienne Lepage and Frédérick Gravel. The duo first created this show in 2016. The performance, involving five interpreters, features a compilation of small stories and philosophical reflections. 

Absurdity is central to the show from the start. In a simply furnished environment consisting of only one bright green couch, a table, a chair, and microphones on stage, five characters recount events that happened to them. These stories are dramatic, bigger than nature, and surreal – sometimes even flirting with the limits of disgust. As the action evolves, they start sharing thoughts about life, about their relationships with others. They compare their experiences, competing to see who is the worst friend, the worst boyfriend, the worst son, and the worst human. Throughout the show, the absurdity remains, but anecdotes leave room for existential questions. 

Lepage was first inspired by the book Logique du pire by Clément Rosset. He describes his own creative work as a “really free and really personal reaction to this Nietzschean vision of the world, that we are all dancers, people who need to find absurd answers to an absurd world.” 

As explained by Lepage, humour always takes an important part in his works. “I always find that there is an enormous, profound sense to say ‘that is reality, it is a difficult reality, but it is a reality in which the comical [nature] of our existence is saving us a little bit.’ Also, it gives us an excuse to be bad or it gives us reasons not to worry. I think there is an important philosophy in humour,” he said.

As a way of acknowledging that reality, the performers on stage play their own roles and use their real names. Audience members witness them changing the music throughout the evening. Only one member of the cast, composed of actors Jon Lachlan Stewart, Yannick Chapdelaine, Marie Bernier, Marilyn Perreault and Philippe Boutin, is anglophone. All the others assume their French accent and incorporate it into the performance. This adds to the humour, confirming the fact that they are not taking themselves seriously. 

Lepage worked in collaboration with choreographer Frédérick Gravel. Gravel’s work adds physicality to the show. While the performers do not purely dance on stage, the way they interact with objects and with the music transmit rich physical states. 

Since its premiere at Festival TransAmériques in 2016, the French version of the piece has been presented for a long time, both in Quebec and internationally. Lepage and Gravel were then invited to translate it. For Rose Plotek, curator of the Wildside Remix Festival at the Centaur Theatre where the play has been showing, this new version has the potential to reach new audiences in the English community – a core mission of the festival.“We’re introducing really incredible artists to a community that’s going to be less familiar with them and hopefully some of the audience that is familiar with them will come to the Centaur and see that it is a place where they are welcome as well,” she said.

For its 25th edition, the Wildside Remix Festival presents three shows, including Logic of the Worst. The 10-day event aims to bring the French and English theatre communities together  through a collaboration between La Chapelle Scènes Contemporaines and Centaur Theatre. 

Another goal of the event is to showcase experimental works. According to Plotek, “[the festival’s] ethos has always been to present and support work that one would not normally see on the main stage at the Centaur.” The curator added that this could include “work that is happening in different kinds of performance modes, like dance theatre or theatre that feels closer to performance art or just forms that are different.”

Therefore, the festival plays a part in the Centaur’s larger goal of expanding its reach to broader audiences and a larger diversity of artists. For Plotek, their scope can be expanded through language backgrounds, but also through artistic disciplines and approaches.

“My little personal mission has been to say, ‘Hey performance community, the Centaur can be a home for you.’ It doesn’t need to be just a home for a kind of more classical English theatre artists. It can be a home for many kinds of artists with both francophone or anglophone or like cultural diversity, or just performance background, people who make work that is more experimental wouldn’t think of the Centaur as a theatre that could be a home for them, but actually it can,” said Plotek.

The Wildside Remix Festival presents Logic of the Worst until March 5. .The following week, they will showcase 1,2, Maybe 3 by performance artists Jean + Syd. Tickets are available on the Centaur Theatre’s website.


Visuals courtesy Denis Farley & Gunther Gamper

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