After obtaining a diploma from the directing program at the National Theatre School of Canada and a Bachelor's Degree in theatre from Université du Québec à Montréal, Geneviève Blais founded the Théâtre à corps perdus. She created and directed Quelques éclats de verre (2004), Combats (2005), Les Châteaux de la colère (2006), Blanc (2008) and Lost and Found (2009). Seeking to nourish her creative process, she participated in several workshops and master classes with Ariane Mnouchkine in Paris, Anne Bogart in New York, and Jean-Guy Lecat, Peter Brook's set designer. The artist has received bursaries from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Arts Council.
ln her shows, Geneviève Blais explores the dark zones of the contemporary human reality, the things that we dare not talk about, that scare us, that we try to forget ... For her, theatre is a place to speak up, to take a stance. Her projects take form around texts that question our certitudes, our values, our identity and the meaning of our existence. She orchestrates theatrical experiences that appeal to our senses and our imagination. Fascinated by the evocative potential of actors, she creates poetic worlds by playing with the musicality of words and the architecture of bodies in space.
At the beginning of the workshop, Geneviève Blais presents her creative process by talking about Combats, a play that she directed. She discusses with students the stakes of the text. What moves me in this play? How does it find echo in today's world? How can l translate these impressions and thoughts on the stage, through acting, scenography, music and stage lighting? She makes students aware of two notions that are at the heart of her approach: evoking the text in a poetic way and provoking physical sensations.
Students then split up into small groups, to become the directors, designers and actors of a short excerpt from the play. They imagine the set, the costumes, the sound effects and the lighting. Guided by the artist's advice and by inspiring images, students reflect on the atmosphere they want to create as they work on the different scenic elements (materials, fabrics, colours, objects, sounds, lighting angles, etc.). They develop a metaphorical world which translates their interpretation of the text. Students are also introduced to physical acting and the construction of a character. At the end of the workshop, each group presents its play to the class and Geneviève Blais comments on their work.
Example of activities
War, far away and I, here and now
A young political prisoner plays with moon rays in a cold cell, wrapped in her flag, trying to forget her fear. She tries to be strong, hanging on to her beliefs. A young man walks toward his first battle, carrying a weapon that is too heavy for him. For reasons he does not quite understand, he is going to war against those who were his friends not so long ago.
These two characters are at the core of the excerpts that students will work on, as they try to relate to war. What do we have in common with these characters who find themselves in a context that seems so far from us? The images of war in foreign countries that are shown on television and in the newspapers often leave us indifferent. Things are different when we try to understand what drives those who experience war every day. What are their dreams, theirs fears and their motivations for taking part in these battles? Students are invited to plunge into the universe of these two characters and to evoke it poetically.
Certain activities require non-reusable material at a cost of $50 (maximum of $100 per day of hosted activities). A multimedia projector, a screen and a small sound system may also be useful and be available at school.
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