New theater project in Montreal | Matthew Quesnel’s Dream

A small revolution is stirring in the theater this spring. Young and old want to achieve things. Author, actor and director Mathieu Quesnel is part of the group.

Posted at 7:00 am

Luke Boulanger

Luke Boulanger

On May 5, about two dozen young artists protested at the premiere of Michel Tremblay’s creation, Dear Chekhov, in TNM. A few days later, Conseil québécois du théâtre (CQT) issued an open letter criticizing the situation as part of the Table de concertation de lalève. The CQT advocates for environmental reform, in order to improve conditions for creativity for emerging artists weakened by two years of the pandemic.

Then, last week on Facebook, Mathieu Quesnel pleaded with his comrades to create a new theater venue “festive, rebellious and open to all possibilities”. A “large distribution cooperative” was created without programming months in advance, without setting up a company, which works day and night. comedian SNL Quebec It already has a name: The Pirate Theatre.

interested stars

About fifty artists and performers immediately responded positively. Some offer to contribute financially. Among them are Yves Landry, Debbie Lynch White, Pascal Monpetite, David Alexandre Despres, Steve Gagnon, Renaud Paradis, Marie-Yves Peron…

There are even artistic directors like David Laurin (Duceppe), Philippe Lambert (La Licorne), and Marcelle Dubois (Aux Écourses) who wrote to encourage him. “I don’t think this new venue will shorten the other companies and their mandates,” he says. On the contrary, Le Pirate will enrich, complement and stimulate Montreal’s theater ecosystem. »

What would a pirate look like?

“I think of a place like a brothel, with good humor; or the Quai des Brumes for musicians.”

I imagine a den in the middle, laboratory and stepping stone, to allow actors to perform a small scene or a short play, to read to authors, and directors to test new art forms…

Matthew Kesnell

Is theater without programming or artistic direction viable in the long term?

Can I dream in color? Can. But I’m not the only one. The reality of freelancers means that creators and performers often have tenures of three, four months and more without a contract. Instead of waiting at home idle, Le Pirate would be an ideal place to try out or launch new projects. …for the next generation of course but not only. For example, I see Yves-Jacques coming to the party in the pirate, like when he had his band!”

all generations

In his opinion, the mission of the Pirate Theater should be comprehensive and based on intergenerational transmission. “There are talented artists in their fifties and sixties that we don’t see on our platforms because we have forgotten them. The pirate will open his doors to them,” Quesnel identifies.

Artists can invest $500 or $1,000 to become co-owners. Quesnel wants to open a Go Fund Me page soon.

I am looking with friends for businesses for sale in Montreal. I am intrigued by Caserne 14, rue Saint-Dominique, near Rachel. It seems deserted… I give myself a summer to meet artists interested in the project. And find a place in the image of this common dream.

Matthew Kesnell

In his vision of the pirate, there is the idea of ​​a return to the collective creativity of the seventies, as in the time of the Grand Cirque Ordinaire or café theatres. He’s known through the story of his relatives, Louise Coérier and Daniel Simard, both of whom died in 2016. “I recently lost a friend I studied with at the Conservatory, Nicolas Chabot. He died of cancer at the age of 41. It made me think…”.

“At that time, we made little scenes, Chabot and I, he continues. We dreamed of a secret underground place to freely practice our profession. Unfettered. Like a pirate! Then I started working, and I had a family and children. When I saw the emergence of the protest movement of young theater artists, I remembered The years I spent at the conservatory. I said to myself, This old dream, it’s time to make it come true.”

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