[Entrevue] Writing the 50th anniversary of the Grand Théâtre de Québec

[Entrevue] Writing the 50th anniversary of the Grand Théâtre de Québec

In 2021, the Grand Théâtre de Québec, an institution at the heart of the cultural and artistic life of the capital, celebrated its 50e season ; an anniversary somewhat disrupted by the vagaries of COVID-19. Never mind: resourceful, the administration committee and the artisans of this high place of culture have organized many special activities, including exhibitions in partnership with the city’s museums.

To end these celebrations on a high note, the team is publishing a book retracing the spectacular odyssey of this scene which knew how to break down barriers, precede trends, open up to the world and give a voice to young up-and-coming artists as well as the province’s most established artists.

The Grand Theater of Quebec. The living history of an exceptional scene looks back, in words and images, on 50 years of history and culture, upheavals, wonders and revolts, hopes, frustrations and innovations.

Under the direction of writers Louis Jolicoeur and André Morency, the book gives voice to sixteen authors and researchers who dissect, from a sociological or historical point of view, part of the conception, development and mission of the institution. .

The chapters review the political context that led to its construction, the development of its brutalist architecture and its famous mural, created by Jordi Bonet, in addition to taking a critical look at the multiple disciplines that made it famous. , including theatre, popular music, dance, classical music, comedy and digital arts.

Significant memories

“It was only when I left Montreal for Quebec that I realized the impact of the Grand Théâtre in the cultural life of the city,” says Gaétan Morency, president and CEO of the establishment since 2015.

“Everyone has a memory attached to them, everyone remembers seeing the ballet Nutcracker, The sisters-in-law Where Genesis in 1973. With the book, we wanted to testify to this influence, to leave a lasting legacy that would serve as a historical reference in all the areas we cover, but which would also be a dynamic product, full of images, to revive the memory of people, ”says the man who notably studied at Cirque du Soleil.

Throughout the pages relive some of the most striking and subversive shows to have come to life on the stage of the Grand Théâtre. We plunge with astonishment into the exploded staging of The Threepenny Opera by Guillermo de Andrea, in 1977, and in the evocative power of distress and enchantment by Gabrielle Roy, performed by Marie-Thérèse Fortin at the Trident in 2018.

“It’s the big, big deal of my life,” testifies the actress. We are moved by the playful poetry of its puppet theater and the virtuosity of the dancers of the Grands Ballets Canadiens. We are dazzled by the audacity of a Robert Lepage and by the organic drive of a Marie Chouinard. We hear the echoes of Gilles Vigneault, Félix Leclerc, Diane Dufresne, Robert Charlebois, Pauline Julien, Pierre Lapointe, Catherine Major and Elisapie Isaac.

Testimonials from artists about their privileged relationship with the establishment accompany the texts, emphasizing the welcome, the generosity of the teams, the proximity to the public. Many of them took their first steps outside the metropolis. “Being a showcase for up-and-coming artists has been part of the Grand Théâtre’s mission from the start,” emphasizes Gaétan Morency. Our programming is designed according to an artistic development approach, which makes it possible to move from the small room to the large room, to develop a relationship of loyalty to be able to better conquer the hearts of the crowds. It contributes to the attachment of the public and spectators to our stage. »

And now ?

Today, despite increasingly strong competition, the enthusiasm for the Grand Théâtre de Québec is undeniable. Its sales represent a third of the ticket market in the nation’s capital.

Under the direction of Gaétan Morency, the theater has equipped itself with state-of-the-art technological equipment with the aim of integrating them into the performing arts and promoting the mixing of disciplines, in addition to investing massively in a shift digital. “We want to become a laboratory for artists,” he says. It also sets itself the mission of developing a relationship of trust with cultural and Aboriginal communities.

“Before you can develop projects that reflect diversity, trust is essential. I want everyone to feel that they belong at the Grand Théâtre, regardless of their age, regardless of their culture. »

The environment also remains at the heart of its concerns. “For 10 years, even though general costs have been increasing, the Grand Théâtre has reduced its energy expenditure by 35%. We also transformed the courtyard of the Conservatoire de Québec — a heat island — to make it a community vegetable garden whose crops are distributed to the Society of Saint-Vincent de Paul. »

Year after year, this great cultural institution has acted here as a mirror, here as a springboard for a Quebec society sometimes in turmoil, sometimes slowed down by mores, austerity or a certain pandemic.

Regardless of the situation, its team of creators has been able to adapt and fight to stay at the heart of trends and to join the community. Freshly renovated, with a new hall and an increased online presence, the Grand Théâtre de Québec has the wind in its sails to blow out its hundredth candle, and well beyond.

The Grand Théâtre de Québec The living history of an exceptional stage

Under the direction of Louis Jolicoeur and André Morency, Septentrion, Quebec, 2022, 396 pages

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