Circus, puppetry, Indigenous theatre and even professional wrestling will light up Le Diamant, the Quebec City theatre centre initiated by Robert Lepage, during the building’s inaugural season this fall. Seven productions will be shown in short runs over a period of 10 weeks, in Le Diamant’s black-box performance space.
The inclusion of a production by Menuentakuan, an Indigenous theatre company based in Montreal, makes good on Lepage’s promise to showcase works by, and not merely about, Indigenous people. Last summer, Lepage drew widespread criticism for Kanata, a project about the history of relations between white people and Indigenous people, which included no Indigenous artists in the creative team or cast.
In a statement, Lepage described Le Diamant as an “antenna for new ideas” and a place for “the most audacious and innovative works.” Bernard Gilbert, general manager and programmer, said in a phone interview that the new facility’s first year will feature about 20 productions, plus numerous one-off events.
Instead of subscription sales, Gilbert said, Le Diamant will introduce itself to the city via relatively low ticket prices, and then pursue a model more often used by museums. “People will buy memberships that come with privileges,” he said.
Le Diamant, built on the site of an old YMCA building near Quebec City’s Place d’Youville, will begin its fall season on Sept. 9, with a remount of Lepage’s seven-hour epic The Seven Streams of the River Ota. It’s the first work Lepage made (in 1995) with his company Ex Machina, which is also Le Diamant’s main resident ensemble. Flip Fabrique, a Quebec City circus troupe, follows on Sept. 24 with Blizzard, a “crazy, poetic and tender” meditation on winter in Quebec.
The first of three Pro Wrestling Galas for 2019-20 pits Ontario wrestler Shawn Spears against Quebec City’s Matt Angel, on Oct. 5. Lepage has made no secret of his interest in pro wrestling as a form of theatre.
Menuentakuan’s production of the Kevin Loring play Là où le sang se mêle opens on Oct. 8. The play, by the director of Indigenous theatre at the National Arts Centre, tells the story of an Indigenous person’s return to their home reserve.
Montreal multimedia circus company Les 7 Doigts brings Passagers to Le Diamant on Oct. 18. The work, about trains and those who ride them, will play Sherbrooke’s Salle Maurice-O’Bready two days earlier.
The Compagnia Finzi Pasca will give three performances of Per Te starting Oct. 30. The work is Daniele Finzi Pasca’s theatrical tribute to his late wife, Julie Hamelin, a Québécoise and co-founder of Cirque Éloize.
The fall season ends with The Daisy Theatre, Ronnie Burkett’s flashy, profane puppet musical revue, the content of which changes each night. The show opens Nov. 6.
Le Diamant, which includes offices, a space for show development and a restaurant, received about $49-million in capital funds from three levels of government. Mr. Gilbert said the final cost could be around $57-million, and that a fundraising campaign is on track to raise at least $10-million.
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