Monday, March 18, 2013

The Question, March 18, 2013

show up, sweep, mop and keep trying to dynamite the stage
by Estelle Rosen

Alain Mercieca is the Artistic Director for Le Nouveau International, a not-for-profit arts organization that has been in residence at Theatre Sainte-Catherine for the past three years.  His first book of short stories is available with Maison Kasini here. Le Nouveau International’s latest production Jesus Christ Super Band  opens for a remount this coming Wednesday March 20th until March 23rd.

CHARPO: Théàtre Ste-Catherine (TSC) has progressed in recent years to include theatre, music, comedy, film and more. What's in the works for future plans?

MERCIECA: I never thought we’d be here, none of us had intentions of running a theatre, let alone two, we just wanted to have fun and do shows.  But here we are. 

The future plans for Theatre Ste-Catherine are nebulous to say the least.  The everyday grind is difficult, we hope to pass on the torch, so-to-speak, or to simply move on with our own projects, getting better at all stages of production and let Theatre Ste-Catherine burn forth forever as a home for the independent arts.

“Make good art.”

As the resident company at TSC, Le Nouveau International, Mark Louch, Sandi Armstrong and I have maintained one simple motto: “Make good art.”  Everyone has their own definition of “good” and so every show is a whole new set of cards. 

The radical (I say that, in the way the Ninja Turtles do) community that has emerged around us since our days at Theatre 314 and was passed on to us by Eric Amber creates a wild diversity of players.  From classical theatre to straight up club-style comedy, to performance art to improv, this diversity is something we cherish.  One third of the year is freedom of expression venue-for-hire anything goes productions, which, like the Fringe, can be unbelievably exciting and at other times, a dead duck smacking the pavement.  But it is part of the reality of having a theatre run all year.

Another third of the shows are comedy, music or improv that involve the amazing aforementioned bilingual and emerging community of artists that are seeking to cut their teeth, refine their craft and move on to blowing bigger venues up-and this creates a “community centre” or “family”-feel, in the sense that we watch each other grow for better or for worse.  Last but not least are the one third of the shows by Le Nouveau’s in-house production.  Be it Mama’s Club or Jesus Christ Super Band, DéPFLIES or 10,000 Plays, it has been a lot of punk rock, screaming, Dionysian nights, intimate shows, big rowdy crowds, also, the words “anti-theatre” or “theatre for people who hate theatre” have come up, whatever our style is, it is still becoming, not even a teenager.  Personally my influences are Daffy Duck and Jim Harrison.  We hope to master our style and bring it everywhere via diplomacy (getting drunk everywhere and leaving our stench of art).  This is what I hope the future brings us.

Personally I have loved creating the bucketload of plays, The Only Bar, Match Made in Hell, CAFé CAFé, DéPFLIES, they are all Montreal plays that delve into every aspect of this, still burgeoning city.   Embracing the details of Montreal, the lost moments, the grungy characters, the scenesters, the forgotten subcultures, and of course embracing the famous French and English bilingualism,  not in a cutesy manner but in the cold, contentious and hilarious reality that they exist.  I love being wildly local and yet still swinging for that universal homerun that makes everyone laugh and cry… yes these are all parts of the philosophy that has been in the process of developing over the years.  

Well fuck, I've rambled as always.

Be it Cath Moreau's empassioned idea of mandatory theatrical "pepper", Simon Chavarie's belligerent poetry, Sandi Armstrong's Oprah Winfrey-style stature, Mark Louch's impossible sets, Lise Vigneault's tears, or the up-and-comers like Maité Sinave, who can play 900 characters in 900 shows at the same time while still making a decent grilled cheese- these animals will evolve and I will be there with a scotch and an endless night in my back pocket. Well fuck, I've rambled as always.  

Beyond combining film, theatre, music, comedy and improv, we are moving towards, what the great playwright David Fennario called a “Non-illusory” theatre.  Inspired heavily by the improv revolution and Keith Johnstone, it is essentially theatre that goes and gets the audience and shows a human side beyond the fourth wall.  The Death of the fourth wall really, completely obliterating it.  Developing this theatre practice and theory into a more fully-fleshed out and real form is something the future shall dictate.  For now it is the flesh and bones fun part of discovering it.  Though I have a comedic background, I take the art of theatre seriously and meeting with Fennario has helped me see what it is we are and what we are striving for. 

And the future looks good simply because the community looks good.  Despite the sometimes revolving door of artists leaving for whatever reason, there are always poets dying to burn, and we shall push to make more films, produce more plays that surprise us and our audiences, build a theatre on the beach, take over a variety of suburban towns and turn them into vivacious cultural hubs, water ski using lions as skis, do a play inside the sewers and milk a cow- yes these are all blithe plans, but in general, just show up, sweep, mop and keep trying to dynamite the stage. 

maybe this gives a better idea:

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