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Robert Lepage

Robert Lepage, OQ (born December 12, 1957 in Quebec City) is a playwright, actor and film director from Quebec City, Quebec, and is one of Canada's most honoured theatre artists.

Life and work

Lepage was raised in Quebec City. At age five, he was diagnosed with a rare form of alopecia, which caused complete hair loss over his whole body. As a teenager he struggled with depression, and turned to drama classes to conquer his shyness.

Between 1975 and 1978, he studied theatre at Quebec City's Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique. He subsequently participated in workshops at Alain Knapp's theatre school in Paris, France.

After coming back to Quebec City, he wrote, directed and played in a few independent productions and joined Théâtre Repère in 1982. With that company, he created Circulations (1984), which was presented across Canada and won an award as best Canadian production during La Quinzaine Internationale de Théâtre de Québec. The following year, he created The Dragons' Trilogy and immediately received international recognition. Vinci (1986), Polygraphe (1987-1990) and Tectonic Plates (1988-1990) followed and were also toured around the world.

He was the artistic director of the National Arts Centre's Théâtre français in Ottawa from 1989 to 1993, and continued to stage plays. His productions of Needles and Opium, Coriolanus, Macbeth, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream were all created in that period.

In 1993, Lepage founded Ex Machina, a multidisciplinary production company, for which he is artistic director. Lepage and Ex Machina have toured numerous productions internationally to critical and popular acclaim, most notably The Seven Streams of the River Ota (1994), Elsinore (1995), Geometry of Miracles (1998) and The Far Side of the Moon (2000), a solo show in which he compared the competition of the Americans and Soviets in the space race to two brothers' competitive relationship after their mother's death. It went to win numerous awards, including four trophies at le Gala des Masques, a Time Out Award and the prestigious Evening Standard Award. Far Side of the Moon was adapted by Lepage -- who plays both brothers -- into a critically acclaimed 2003 film of the same name. The Far Side of the Moon is inspired from the relationship between Robert and his brother David, a successful professor at Carleton University.

Lepage has also been involved in music productions, being the stage director for the critically acclaimed Secret World Tour by Peter Gabriel in 1993-1994, and the subsequent Growing Up tour in 2003-2004. He proved to be as gifted in opera as in theatre, staging Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung at the Canadian Opera Company, The Damnation of Faust in Japan and Paris, and Lorin Maazel's Nineteen Eighty-four at Covent Garden's Royal Opera House in London in 2005. Finally, Cirque du Soleil asked him to create the permanent Las Vegas show named at the MGM Grand in 2005. His production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, conducted by Christopher Hogwood, is due to open at the Teatro Real, Madrid in January 2009.

The Andersen Project, his last solo play inspired by the life and works of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen and his tale 'The Dryad', is set to have a long and prosperous life, similar to The Far Side of the Moon; it received many international prizes and, after being presented by Lepage himself in more than ten countries, is currently starring Yves Jacques who did the same in the past for The Far Side of the Moon.

He is currently working on "Lipsynch", his new large canvass work which premiered in its first version in Newcastle upon Tyne's Northern Stage in February 2007. Currently clocking about 5 hours, it should be 9 hours long in its final version in 2008. He's also staging Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, which will be presented in Brussels Opéra de la Monnaie in April 2007 and San Francisco War Memorial Opera House in November 2007.

Also working on: The Image Mill. For forty nights, residents and visitors come to Québec City for the 400th anniversary can see The Image Mill, the biggest outdoor architectural projection ever made in the world. In forty minutes, Robert Lepage and Ex Machina will celebrate four centuries of human and materiel development right where the river narrows, on the banks of Bassin Louise, using the huge surface of the Bunge grain elevators as a giant screen. More than an historic tableau, The Image Mill is a light-hearted and lively illustration in three dimensions of the city's past, present and future. The Image Mill will be a mosaic of icons, sounds and ideas covering four great epochs in the progress of Québec City: -The age of waterways and exploration -The age of roads and settlement -The age of railroads and development -The age of air travel and communication The first presentation of this original, larger than life portrait of Québec City will take place at sundown on June 20, 2008, the evening of the summer solstice. It was planned at first that the show would be projected every evening until July 29, 2008. But because of its success, the projection was extended till the end of August and was extended again to September 8th 2008. Discussions are under way to offer the presentation next summer. The soundrack was broadcasted simultaneously on CKIA-FM and all of this free of charge.

Plays

  • "Lipsynch"
  • Le projet Andersen (The Andersen Project)
  • Busker's Opera
  • La face cachée de la lune (The Far Side of the Moon)
  • La Casa Azul
  • Zulu Time
  • La Tempête
  • La Géométrie des miracles (Geometry of Miracles)
  • Les Sept Branches de la Rivière Ota (The Seven Streams of the River Ota)
  • Elseneur (Elsinor)
  • Les Aiguilles et l'Opium (Needles and Opium)
  • Les Plaques tectoniques (Tectonic Plates)
  • La Trilogie des Dragons (The Dragon Trilogy)
  • Le Polygraphe (Polygraph)
  • Vinci
  • Circulations

Filmography

Actor

Director

Honours

In 1994, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his particularly imaginative and innovative work". In 1999, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec. In 2001 he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame

On April 29, 2007, he was awarded the European Commission's Europe Theatre Prize for 2007. The honours were to be shared between Lepage and German stage director Peter Zadek , but Zadek did not show up and was not awarded the prize

Further reading

  • Dundjerovic, Aleksandar: The Cinema of Robert Lepage. The poetics of memory, Walflower Press, 2003; ISBN 1-903364-33-7
  • Dundjerovic, Aleksandar: The Theatricality of Robert Lepage, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007; ISBN 978-0- 7735-3251-9

External links

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