Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Visit to Ex Machina/Robert Lepage's La Caserne

The Castle That Robert Lepage Built

by  Isabelle-Ann Charlebois

I went to visit La Caserne on Dalhousie Street in Quebec City.  What an amazing place!

A little history: It all started as Robert Lepage was looking for a place where he could gather people in order to create, rehearse and produce plays, shows and events.
Mr. Jean-Paul Lallier, mayor of the city of Quebec at that time, knew about it and offered Lepage the Fire station which has been closed since the beginning of the '80s.  To know more, you can visit the website.
La Caserne was inaugurated on June 2nd, 1997 for Ex Machina’s multidisciplinary production center.
Later on, the building next to La Caserne was annexed.  This building accommodated the Société des Traversiers for some time before. This is where the front desk and the administration are.
To start off, the hall of La Caserne:  The fire pole is still there! This hall, serves as a meeting place, often used for events and cocktails.  Also, the beautiful colors were chosen by Robert Lepage: red, gold and black are representative of the Asian culture, which he’s very fond of and uses in his work. We can see the hall from the windows on Dalhousie street.
Next, on to the basement, called the trap room:  this place is a storage place (I saw, as a sneak peak, the new round stage that will be used for Lepage’s new show to come, Cartes.  This new production will be presented as a premiere in Europe in 2012).
The show consists or 4 parts: hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds.  Also, it is supposed to last for 12 hours.  This production will maybe be seen in Montreal in 2014.  Let's keep our eyes wide open for this one!
A walking tour of La Caserne

To continue, next to the trap room, there is a workshop.  This workshop is full of tools sometimes used to build prototypes needed for the rehearsals.  As the actors create the plays, along with Mr. Lepage, the artists (technicians, prop designers) stay available to build the prototypes on the spot!

If the prototypes make the cut for the play, they will then be sent to a company who specialises in props and set construction.

As we continue the visit, we walk along the make up and dressing rooms, the same ones you can see in the movie: Nô.

Then we went up to Studio two. This is where the Bunge model was tried on a small scale.  In that room, there are mirrors for rehearsals.

Studio one, the biggest studio is on the main floor.  It is used for events such as book launches as Bernard Landry did, music albums and many other events for all kinds of companies: PQ and Liberal parties and even, once, a new car launch: the new Vibe launch event took place here. This studio has a huge door which was designed by an aircraft hangar door builder.  

The purpose of this studio is now almost uniquely for cultural goals rather than other interests.

In all, the visit was just exquisite!

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