blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit

blending an assortment of thoughts and experiences for my friends, relations and kindred spirit
By Alison Hobbs, blending a mixture of thoughts and experiences for friends, relations and kindred spirits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

"Je me souviens"

Luckily, Ursula of the German conversation group reminded me that Robert Lepage's latest one man show, '887', was on at the National Arts Centre, and for January 20th I managed to buy a seat at the penultimate performance. As I expected, having seen his Face Cachée de la Lune more than 10 years ago (I saw the film too), the experience was phenomenal. Lepage is a genius. His stage works are highly unconventional, and he creates them with the help of the Ex Machina team, in operation since 1994.

The play was a meditation on the theme of memory, posing the questions: how do we remember things and why do we remember some things better than others? What happens when memory fails us and we forget something that's meant to be important? How do we remind ourselves of the most precious parts of our past lives? When does the history of a nation impinge upon one's personal history? It was also the very personal story of Lepage's own childhood in Quebec City; I suspect he tweaked the truth a little, here and there. He said that one of his neighbours in the apartment block where his family lived in those days had a noisy dog, a great dane. "They called him Hamlet..." Well, maybe they did, but I doubt it.

The beginning of the show was clever. Robert Lepage came on stage just as one of the NAC staff might (I recognised him, but perhaps many in the audience didn't) and told us the usual housekeeping rules about using the exits and turning off our cellphones during the show, then without any appreciable pause he went straight on to tell us how he came up with the idea for this production---he'd been asked to recite a poem at a public event and found he had terrible trouble learning the poem by heart, why?---with a few projections following on a screen behind him, as if he were giving a TED talk, or something of that kind. As he continued to present his thoughts, though, the lights dimmed, the backdrop disappeared and scenery appeared on the revolving stage, models of his childhood surroundings, and of his present day surroundings, each setting cleverly transformed into the next.

Here's the trailer for '887':


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