The imagination can contain a lot. Sometimes, it’s vast and sumptuous with possibility and memory, thick with sentiment and brazen with unresolved thoughts; other times, it’s tentative, quiet, reflective, given to the modulations of life’s mundane parts.
You could say the same of Robert Lepage’s theatre. Lepage, a Canadian, is one of contemporary theatre’s greats – a master of grand spectacle known for marrying vast and extravagant instincts with smaller, everyday concerns and quiet consideration. A talented actor and filmmaker as well as a playwright and director, his influences and productions run the gamut. And while typically sumptuous and technically cutting-edge (his collaborations range from Cirque du Soleil to Wagner’s Ring for the New York Met), his work frequently arises from his own experience.
That instinct has never been more strongly felt than in Lepage’s show for Melbourne Festival 2016, 887. It’s a powerful autobiographical work that begins in his bilingual boyhood home and unfolds into a dizzying and inventive exploration of personal history and memory across five decades. Lepage’s upbringing happened to coincide with Quebec Separatism, and 887’s story takes root in a household of differing beliefs.
Lepage has described theatre as the ‘grand sport of remembering’ – but his passions and fascinations fall much more broadly. Find out how: in Melbourne to perform in 887, Robert Lepage meets Richard Watts for an in-depth conversation about autobiography, his theatrical practice and his view on the wider world.
Presented in partnership with Melbourne Festival.
Versatile in every form of theatre craft, Robert Lepage is equally talented as a director, playwright, actor and film director. His creative and original approach to theatre has won him international acclaim and shaken the dogma of classical stage direction to its foundations, especially through his use of new technologies. Contemporary history is his source of inspiration, and his modern and unusual work transcends all boundaries.
Richard Watts is a writer, broadcaster and critic, and the host of 3RRR’s flagship arts program, SmartArts.