Ottawa: The National Arts Centre French Theatre announces its 2022/23 season

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Mani Soleymanlou’s first season is an outstretched hand. At the helm of NAC French Theatre since September 2021, he is eager to reconnect with audiences, especially after two challenging years for the performing arts community. His first-ever program for French Theatre showcases a wide range of creators, and this year he will once again give a special place to family programming, with the help of Mélanie Dumont, Associate Artistic Director, Youth Programs.

“We’re very excited to present the ... What an exhilarating experience to ... I’ve been trying for two years to ... no, more like forty years ... For me, theatre is ... theatre must ... Anyway. How can I put it? How can I put an intuition, a feeling, into words? How can I name the unnameable? It’s impossible. It’s impossible to put into words the immense pleasure, the uncontrollable vertigo and this ever-increasing joy. Without you, it’s even more illusory. So we have to move, we have to see, we have to make theatre, together. Attempt the impossible. Make the impossible possible, together.”

- Mani Soleymanlou, Artistic Director, NAC French Theatre.

First up, from September 28 to October 1, 2022, is a new production of Un. Deux. Trois., Mani Soleymanlou’s great cycle of identity. Forty performers of diverse backgrounds from across French-speaking Canada come together on stage to create a choral, poignant and festive work about what constitutes us, what divides us and what unites us. A national tour and artistic collaboration of unprecedented scope in the history of French theatre in Canada.

Aalaapi | ᐋᓛᐱ —“keeping quiet to hear something beautiful” in Inuktitut—will run from October 26 to 29, 2022. It’s part radio documentary, consisting of the accounts of five young Inuit women talking about their daily lives between northern and southern Quebec, and part theatrical performance that invites contemplation, listening and connection. Aalaapi | ᐋᓛᐱ is co-presented with NAC Indigenous Theatre.

The legendary Michel Tremblay exposes the burning issues of his creative craft in his latest play, Cher Tchekhov, directed by Serge Denoncourt and presented at the NAC from November 17 to 19, 2022. Is the theatre world like a dysfunctional clan where everyone fights for their place in the spotlight? Tremblay’s funny and ferocious script portrays a family of actors who gather at a country house for a dinner party that will go off … without a hitch?

For well-behaved children (or not) ages 6 to 12, HUSH : La boîte à rêve de Henry Purcell, produced by Zonzo Compagnie, comes to the NAC on November 12 and 13, 2022. On stage is a magic box, an imaginative reproduction of a small baroque theatre. When the curtains of this mini-opera open, a wonderful world comes alive with the harmonies of the great composer Henry Purcell, the Shakespeare of English music.

On December 10 and 11, 2022, kids ages 3 to 8 can explore the world of puppet theatre with L’Illusion’s Archipel. On a stage turned island, three star-sisters, a puppeteer, a dancer and a musician go on an adventure — and you’ll never believe what they see! At every stop, a new surprise, a new encounter. Prepare for an out-of-this-world adventure!

Winter and spring 2023

Details for the balance of programming in winter and spring 2023 will be announced early fall 2022.

Three Major Special Projects

The French Theatre Collective

One of Mani Soleymanlou’s first initiatives is to provide opportunities for the next generation of performers. Every year, in association with the Théâtre du Rideau Vert (the oldest professional French-language theatre in North America), French Theatre intends to produce and present a play featuring recent graduates of theatre training programs. For the 2022–2023 season, the direction of the show has been entrusted to the great Marie Brassard.

The French Theatre Residency

A special recurring project initiated by Mani Soleymanlou, the French Theatre Residency will welcome a creator for a two-year period. Two full seasons to explore a particular approach or style, to hone their skills or let them soar. For the 2022–2023 and 2023–2024 seasons, French Theatre will host Catherine Vidal. Her goal? To build a dramaturgical and scenic notebook that will lay the foundation for an exploration of Chekhov’s La mouette (The Seagull).

The triumphant return of the French Theatre Labs!

How do you bring art back to the centre of a theatre company’s process? How do you put your ideas into practice and share your vision of the world? This new laboratory is part of a long tradition of intensive exchanges around the professions related to the stage. Initiated by Denis Marleau (2002–2008), continued by Wajdi Mouawad (2009–2012) and now revived by Mani Soleymanlou, these workshops and master classes have fostered projects, friendships, collaborations and even vocations. Full details of the 2023 edition will be announced at a later date.

Visit nac-cna.ca.