Seven theaters in the metropolis have decided to open their respective stages to present the river show The Crossing of the Century, imagined by Alice Ronfard and articulated around the work of Michel Tremblay.
For three years, the director Alice Ronfard, helped for a time by the late André Brassard, browsed the plays and novels of the one she nicknamed “the Quebec Balzac”. She drew from it the raw material for a colossal reading-show of a dozen hours (intermissions included), which was presented only once in August 2022 at the Espace Libre.
For the 2023-2024 season, seven Montreal theaters have decided to add a full performance of The Crossing of the Century to their programming: Espace Libre, Center du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, Duceppe, Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Théâtre de Quat’ sous, La Licorne and Théâtre du Rideau Vert.
More than twenty performers will share the stage for the seven upcoming performances, including Emmanuel Schwartz, Céline Bonnier, Violette Chauveau, Dany Boudreault, Rachel Graton and Marie-Hélène Thibault.
For Alice Ronfard, these performances are the culmination of work begun in 2019. “This work allowed me to reconnect with André Brassard, with whom I had informal meetings on this project. I re-read Michel Tremblay’s novels and I went crazy! There were Post-its all over my house! At first, I didn’t even think the project was doable on stage! “, explains the director during a press conference.
The future will prove her wrong. The crossing of the century was read for the first time at L’Espace Libre and then turned into a podcast (available on Radio-Canada’s OHdio platform.) This titanic work will now carry out a “crossing of the theaters of the city” and even be published at the end of the summer by Leméac editions.
With great emotion, Alice Ronfard recalled the day André Brassard told her that he no longer had the strength to continue the project. “He said to me, ‘I place this project in you.’ I felt all the responsibility incumbent on me to transmit the work of this great author that is Tremblay, but also to transmit the work of Brassard. The latter bequeathed to me something that I in turn bequeath to theater directors. »
For Alex Bergeron, who acted as dramaturgical advisor on the project and also participates as a performer, the word mythology is quite appropriate when referring to Tremblay’s characters. “When I read Tremblay, I feel like I’m being told my story, that of my grandparents, of my parents. Tremblay is my heritage. He talks about the emancipation of society as a whole, especially that of women, of homosexuals. It addresses the weight of religion on a people. »
Actor Roger La Rue, who will also be on stage, adds: “It was while reading Tremblay that I wanted to do theatre. Brassard said he received news from the family each time Tremblay handed him a new novel, a new play. It’s so true ! And The Crossing of the Century is a happening that is unlike anything we know. When Alice talked about the crossing of the city that this piece will experience, I had chills. »
Sylvain Bélanger, artistic and general director of the Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, attended the August 2022 performance. “I have never experienced anything like it. Twelve hours of theater… It was beautiful and athletic. That day, I understood that I knew Tremblay, but in small pieces. Alice’s text will make it possible to forge several ties with the younger generations. »
For Lorraine Pintal, artistic and general director of the TNM, the decision to present the piece is first and foremost an emotional decision. “I have an attachment to these three people who are Michel, Alice and André. This work must meet the public. It’s a unique event, especially since the text is defended by great actors and actresses! »
Performances of La Traversée du siècle will run from August 26, 2023 to June 29, 2024, depending on the venue. However, tickets will go on sale the same day, April 14. The price will be the same everywhere: $90 (including taxes and service charges.)