Even though it is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Maison Théâtre retains the ardor of youth, as evidenced by its 2023-2024 programming, unveiled on Monday. The central themes of this season with amazing proposals? freedom and resistance.

The team at Montreal’s only venue entirely devoted to young people did not have a particular guideline in mind when it came time to choose the 18 shows it will present from September 2023 to June 2024. This “red thread instead appeared after the selection was completed.

“In a lot of shows, you have a character breaking free from something or wanting to do it. You have the impact of this release on the character, on his entourage, “explains the artistic director, Sophie Labelle.

Written by Fanny Britt, the play 176 pas by the Théâtre de l’Oeil is an example of this. The author, whose pen has been awarded many times, tells the story of Octave, a young boy for whom the piano is “his buoy and his ball”. “His piano is his comfort zone. But, at the same time, he drags him along, because he has to do his scales. […] It is both a space of freedom and a constraining space. He will succeed in emancipating himself when he leaves his piano, ”explains the director, Simon Boudreault.

Music is omnipresent in this puppet show designed for children aged 6 to 10, which will be presented for the first time in November. And it is none other than Ariane Moffatt who will compose the pieces. “It was like a flash. I thought that with Ariane Moffatt, it would be great […] She was very excited, ”says Simon Boudreault.

In the programming, the notion of freedom is also manifested through various invitations to appropriate the place that is the Maison Théâtre.

For example, in September, children aged 3 to 7 will be invited to a costume party, Le bal des Petites Âmes. An event created especially for them in a room completely transformed for the occasion.

Young people aged 10 to 14 will be able to influence the course of the show Prince Panthère, a “dream-like-philosophical cabaret” built around interactions with the public. This intriguing proposal from the Petit Théâtre de Sherbrooke can be seen in November.

The 2023-2024 program also speaks of resistance.

“There’s a desire for many artists to say to kids, ‘Question things. Do not hesitate to use your critical spirit. […] Transform the world”, says Sophie Labelle.

By addressing the relationship to the norm and the acceptance of differences, Norman c’est normal, à une letter echoes this call to reinvent the world. This show filled with humor and puns by the Belgian troupe kosmocompany for 8 to 14 year olds will be in Montreal in May 2024.

For its part, Hegemony by the company Trembler Davantage raises questions about contemporary masculinity. This play for teenagers presented in February 2024 follows five 14-year-old boys who question what their passions should be at this age.

Since 1984, the Maison Théâtre has allowed young people aged 2 to 17 to discover the performing arts. In four decades, how has the supply of entertainment evolved? “The theater for young Quebec audiences is built a lot on the text,” answers the artistic director, Sophie Labelle. There are still a lot of authors who offer new works, but there are also more visual works, others that combine dance and theatre… We have exploded the form a little more in recent years. »

Maison Théâtre general manager Isabelle Boisclair adds, however, that some things remain: “There has always been a lot of freedom in theater for young audiences. »

The 2023-2024 program confirms this.