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Scoop Audio: Arts Festival Preview - Robert Lepage

Scoop Audio: Arts Festival Preview - Robert Lepage

Story and photos by Lyndon Hood

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Robert Lepage, Canadian director, playwright, designer, filmmaker and performer held a press conference in Wellington today during a brief New Zealand visit.

This year's International Arts Festival includes a revival of his influential epic The Dragon's Trilogy.

In the press conference, Lepage discusses the ideas and processes behind his work and that of his company, Ex Machina.

The Press Conference:

Full audio (36 Minutes, 10MB):

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Section One (17 Minutes, 4.9MB)

Lepage discusses the considerations inlvoved in remounting the Trilogy, first devised in 1985, and whether Wellington's performances may be different to the seen elsewhere.
He explains the intent behind producing a six hour play, and his approach to telling good stories in theatre and film.


Section Two (17 Minutes, 4.9MB)

Lepage talks about his next project, an exploration of the human voice with the working title Lipsync and describes the process his company has evolved for devising plays, including questions about funding and rehearsal space. He also gives his assessment of the potential of film in the digital age


Section Three (2 Minutes, 516kB)

Lepage describes what audiences can expect from The Dragon Trilogy


The Dragon's Trilogy - Performance Dates:
Sat 11, Mon 13, Thurs 16, Fri 17 Mar, 5.30pm; Sun 12 & Sat 18 Mar, 3pm,
Queens Wharf Events Centre, Wellington

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NZ International Arts Festival Press Release:

Theatre's most dazzling sorcerer – Robert Lepage in person

International theatre superstar Robert Lepage, renowned for his prodigiously inventive stagecraft which “shatters the limits of theatrical expression” (The New York Times), makes his first visit to New Zealand on Tuesday 17th January 2006 - for one day only!

Lepage has wowed Festival audiences on more than one occasion (Seven Streams of the River Ota 2000, the far side of the moon 2002) and this year Festival goers will be treated to one of his masterpieces: The Dragons’ Trilogy.

“Robert Lepage is one of my favourite theatre directors. The Dragons’ Trilogy is a beautiful and moving story. Much like a soap opera, you bond with the characters and yearn to know how their lives will unfold,” says Carla van Zon, the Festival’s Artistic Director.

The Canadian director, playwright, designer, filmmaker and performer first devised The Dragons’ Trilogy in 1985 when he was 27. It was to become the masterpiece of theatrical storytelling that launched him onto the world stage. 21 years later he will remount the epic tale, which is a stunning example of his ingenious, multimedia approach to theatre.

The Dragons’ Trilogy is a six-hour saga (with three intervals) that spans three generations in three cities – the Chinatowns of Quebec in the 1930s, Toronto in mid-20th century and 1980s Vancouver.

The epic performance conjures up an Orient invented in the minds of two 12-year-old girls, Jeanne and Françoise - a China made of myth and miscellaneous rubbish, Tao, Mah Jong and Chinese laundries.

The piece is set in an empty parking lot where, under harsh night lighting, Jeanne and Françoise (the pivotal characters of this saga) come back to life. They are the lynchpins around whom several unforgettable characters revolve.

Eight actors, using four languages, take the audience on a journey to the gateway of the Orient, from Canadian Chinatowns to Hong Kong, England, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Maoist China, spanning lifelines of history between 1910 and 1985.

Half a dozen writers, who were all in the original cast, including Marie Brassard and Marie Michaud, share the writing credits with the director, but The Dragons’ Trilogy is unmistakably Lepage's work. Lepage's theatre breaks down the boundaries between text and image, screen and stage, the live and the recorded and all his works contain that most vital of theatrical ingredients - surprise.

The Dragons’ Trilogy, sponsored by Newstalk ZB, is a once in a lifetime experience that you will never forget.

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Robert Lepage biography:

Born in Quebec, Canada, in 1957, Lepage - who has been described as courteous, soft-spoken and modest - has created nothing less than a revolution in the possibilities of what a stage, a play and an actor can be and do. Hugely influential yet beyond imitation, his shows tour widely and incessantly.

Raised in a bilingual household, he has referred to it as "a metaphor for the divided Canada." Since childhood, Lepage has suffered from alopecia – chronic hair loss - and his otherworldly air is heightened by a lack of eyebrows (and a great wardrobe of wigs).

After graduating from Quebec's Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique in 1978, he went on to Paris to complete his training at Alain Knapp's theatre school. In 1980, he joined the Théâtre Repère, a Quebec City theatre company where, within a few years, he was to make his name as one of the major creative forces of his country. It was with this company that he created The Dragons’
Trilogy with which he become internationally recognised. The production toured for five years through Canada, Mexico, Australia, and the US.

At 32, Lepage was offered one of Canadian theatre's most prestigious posts: head of French Theatre at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, which he held for four years till 1993. In 1992, he became the first North American to direct a play by William Shakespeare at the Royal National Theatre in London, with his controversial production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which he staged in half a foot of mud.

He has staged theatre productions at many of the world's great theatres, including the Dramaten in Stockholm and the Tokyo Globe. Lepage has also directed operas, most recently an adaptation of the novel 1984 for the English National Opera and has staged musician Peter Gabriel's last two world tour concerts, Secret World (1996-7) and Growing Up (2002-3).

In 1994 he founded multidisciplinary company Ex Machina and it was with this company that he created the large-scale theatre works Seven Streams of the River Ota (1994-8); and the solo piece the far side of the moon.

His first feature film, The Confessional, was selected to open the 1995 Cannes Film Festival Directors' Fortnight. Possible Worlds was lauded at the 2000 Venice Film Festival.

See the following link for a fascinating Guardian profile on Robert Lepage:,3605,510950,00.html#article_continue

Praise for The Dragons’ Trilogy:

“After twenty years of phenomenal success and recognition, this epic theatrical experience remains and moving and unique as ever. Lepage’s trademarks of breathtakingly beautiful images and impressionistic narrative are reproduced to full effect.”

Performance Dates: Sat 11, Mon 13, Thurs 16, Fri 17 Mar, 5.30pm; Sun 12 & Sat 18 Mar, 3pm, Queens Wharf Events Centre, Wellington

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