Ce qu’on attend de moi changes from night to night
Ce qu’on attend de moi
When: May 21-25
Where: Performance Works
Tickets: from $26 at seizieme.ca
In Ce qu’on attend de moi, an audience member is selected to be the subject of a film being created live by a professional stage crew. The subject is filmed in the actual confines of Performance Works, while the audience watches from a tent. The show (Eng. title translation: What is Expected of Me), which closes Théâtre la Seizième’s 2018—2019 season, was developed by Gilles Poulin-Denis, and Philippe Cyr. Poulin-Denis, who is part of the technical team and also translates (into English) the participating audience member’s reactions and dialogue in real-time, talked to us about the show.
Q: Are you onstage at all?
A: There’s a technical booth place in front of the audience so they can see us creating the show live. We have a video director, someone who’s working lights and someone working sound and me around this table and we’re creating a film live in front of the audience. The sole actor or the subject of the film is the audience member selected the night of the performance. We select a few people to begin with, and then select one to do the performance. We don’t force anyone to do the performance.
Q: How has the show evolved since the first time you did with a volunteer?
A: It was a long process. We had a residency at a theatre in Montreal, where we were able to test out various things. But the first full version was last spring, about a year ago. We reworked the piece since then because we felt that we had a bit too much control over the piece. We wanted to give the audience member, or performer, a bit more agency.
Q: Are you interacting with the performer?
A: Yeah. I’m sort of like the interviewer, at times. And I also guide them. It’s really kind of a discussion between me and the performer. That’s what’s interesting. We’re creating the piece together. It’s kind of like improv in that sense. I have a different scene partner every night. We have a loose structure and create the content in that structure.
Q: What can you say about the people who do the show?
A: It really changes from night to night. The audience also has a say in who will be performing that night. So it depends on what the consensus is. We’ve had 20-year-old guys and older gentlemen and middle-aged women. The age of the performer and their life experience changes the performance. Certain scenes will have more resonance if the person is more advanced in their life than if they’re a 20-year-old who’s projecting themselves into all the possibilities life has to offer. Part of the piece deals with choices and trying to imagine what our life could be if it isn’t what it is: “If I had taken that choice, what would my life be like now?”
Q: And is that where the visuals come in?
A: Well, as actors we know that it’s stressful enough when you’re professionally trained to be doing a show in front of a live audience. We didn’t want to subject the performers to that amount of pressure. So we decided to seclude them from the audience and make a movie out of it. The performer will actually be in the theatre space, doing everything live, but the audience just sees the filmed version of what the person is going through as we’re creating it. It will be a garden party, patio party slash movie night kind of setting.