It’s the end of a reign. And also of an era.
After 32 years at the helm of the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde (TNM), Lorraine Pintal will leave the management of the theater on August 30. She made the first announcement to La Presse on Wednesday. For an hour, she confided with her usual energy. However, we feel her inhabited by opposing feelings: the enthusiasm of passing the torch, but the sadness of leaving a house that she loves madly. “I am leaving peacefully, but the mourning will be hard and long. By leaving the TNM, I have the impression that a limb of my body is going to be amputated,” she illustrates.
Lorraine Pintal had been thinking about saying goodbye for some time. His detractors will say it’s not too early… Why now? “Because 2024 is a pivotal year for TNM,” she says.
Indeed, the year will be marked by the completion of major projects at TNM: the end of the expansion work; the inauguration of the Réjean-Ducharme room; the restructuring of the general management split into two positions (artistic and administrative); the adoption of a five-year strategic plan…
During her mandate, Ms. Pintal was carried away by the flow of new activities and initiatives, such as the theater revitalization project spread over… a quarter of a century! “If I am given a mandate, I will go all the way to carry it out. It’s a question of DNA, of education. I arrived at TNM in a context of internal crisis, the company was weakened. My duty was to straighten it out. »
Did she manage to achieve all her plans? He was criticized for taking time before opening his theater to various cultural communities. “Cultural diversity, I humbly admit, it took a long time before we saw changes on stage or behind the scenes at TNM. But we got there, and it’s here for good. »
“With the Réjean-Ducharme room, where the TNM will present the creations of emerging artists, I am leaving a magnificent theater at the service of the rising generation,” she continues. I am very curious and excited about the future of TNM. As an artist, I started in the 1970s, with collective creation, national affirmation. For ten years, there has been a new lease of life in theatrical creation in Quebec, a desire from the younger generation to take its place. And my wish is to give them a place where they will have all the staff and tools to do it. »
To explain the longevity of her reign, Ms. Pintal says that leading the TNM is like a drug: “It’s difficult to say I’m stopping immediately, and I’m giving way to others. But theater in general is a drug. »
You don’t run an institution like the TNM for 32 years without facing headwinds. Over time, the TNM has sometimes been the subject of very harsh criticism. “You have to have armor,” she admits. You shouldn’t feel personally targeted every time. Certainly, criticism of its governance or programming must be taken seriously. But I make a difference between the person I am and the director of the institution. »
It is pointed out to her that she has a solid shell as a politician… “Yes, undoubtedly, but you need to have a sense of politics to lead the TNM. It’s part of the job. »
Moreover, her passion for politics did not die out the day after her electoral defeat in Verdun, in 2014, in Pauline Marois’ team. “I won’t start any rumors today, because I don’t have anything to announce. But for me, politics is another drug. And I discovered an ease in that, an ability to claim things. »
Combative, Lorraine Pintal is and always has been, going to the front to defend the TNM and its artists. What was the worst storm she went through in 32 years? “The Cantat affair and the Women trilogy in 2011. Because it was a triple storm: social, political and cultural. »
By accepting that the singer Bertrand Cantat – convicted of the murder of his partner, Marie Trintignant – take the stage of the TNM, Lorraine Pintal adhered to the proposal of the director Wajdi Mouawad: “For me, Wajdi’s artistic gesture was catharsis; because the show is about violence against women. I didn’t see the iceberg in front of us. I was blinded by the artistic gesture which I found fantastic. It’s certain that it left its mark for two or three years.
– Do you regret it?
– I am not inhabited by regrets in my life. Now, if I had to do it again, I would do things differently. I would prepare the ground to better explain the idea of rehabilitation behind this choice,” she admits.
Lorraine Pintal will remain at TNM until the end of 2024, to ensure the transition. An independent selection committee, supervised by the TNM board of directors, will review the applications. The process and details will be revealed later. The Board of Directors will announce the appointment to artistic direction and co-general direction by the summer. “Particular thought must be given to this handover,” we can read in the press release which announces the departure of the fifth person – and first woman – to direct the theater company founded in 1951.
And what will the future look like for Lorraine Pintal? She refuses to say the R-word (retirement), a taboo word in cultural circles. At 72, the artist has projects outside of the theater. She is also writing a novel, her second book. The director has already scheduled the next two seasons of TNM (which will be announced later). She will stage a production for the 75th anniversary of the TNM, in 2026.
Ms. Pintal is not involved in his estate. However, can she tell us what it takes to hold such a position? “Passion, vision and consultation. Because theater remains team work. Without collective spirit, without solidarity, you cannot run a theater,” she replies like a good politician.