Editor’s note: This is part of a series of posts Apartment613 is hosting on behalf of MASC, showcasing the artists they work with and their programming in our community.
Créations In Vivo is an arts organization dedicated to creating new works of performance stemming from text, poetry, aesthetic, or artistic concepts. Its members also offer training that has allowed them to travel across Ontario to give workshops in high schools through the “Artistes aux 4 coins” program. Their productions are naturally suited to different audiences depending on their artistic approach. They contribute to the emergence of a talented new generation of artists who will be able to attract a variety of people in the performing arts and, therefore, expand the cultural vitality of the Francophone community.
In this interview, founder Stéphane Guertin and artistic director Éric Perron talk about their approach to creating and sharing theatre.
Your mandate defines you as an arts organization dedicated to the creation of unique works that fuse visions, cultures, and individuals. There is a tendency to divide artistic practice by discipline. What advantages do you see in a multidisciplinary approach?
Éric: Theatre is already a multidisciplinary art form, and is further enriched when it blends and rubs shoulders with other art forms or traditions. This is why it is not uncommon to see dance, circus, puppetry, or hear songs in our shows. For us, it goes without saying that our shows will integrate other art forms because each one has its own conventions that will allow us to better articulate and enrich our work. Blending these art forms is at the heart of our work and allows us to surprise ourselves and go where we don’t expect.
Créations In Vivo was founded in 2007, and in 2008 (and again in 2009!), you won the Réseau Ontario school “Coup de foudre” award, which guaranteed you a tour of French Ontario schools. Were you expecting this quick success? How did you manage what happened next?
Stéphane: Of course, we didn’t expect this almost instant success! It was a happy surprise that also had its share of challenges. We had to quickly develop protocols and structure the company’s operations to meet the demand. This was done through discussions with similar organizations and through management training. The first few years were crazy, especially since the organization did not yet have the financial grounding to have full-time administrative staff. I remember the tour of La pluie de bleuets where we had to get over 100 contracts signed with schools by fax (those were the days!). During the day, we were performing and at night, I was working on the contracts!
You have worked on several international collaborations with artists in other parts of the world. Since the pandemic limits us to online interactions, what are the challenges and opportunities you have been presented with in working with local and international artists?
Stéphane: The main challenge when developing a project on several continents is to be aware of each other’s way of working and find common ground. You also have to understand each other’s realities, including communication technologies, and adjust.
For example, when we worked on the show La neige, c’est quoi?, part of the creative team was in Burkina Faso, part of the creative team was in France, and we were here. Internet connections are not always reliable on parts of the African continent to do video work sessions. So we had to find ways to advance the project by other means. Sometimes you lose a little bit of speed, but it does help you reflect on the creation process.
Why do you think it is important for our local community to have access to professional artists?
Éric: Professional artists are the best gateway for communities to access the performing arts. These artists are also in the best position to transmit their knowledge to the young people who may be our future artists and audiences. What could be better than receiving training directly from professional artists themselves!
Finally, meeting with local professional artists demonstrates to young people that it is possible for them, too, to become professional artists in French and in their community, while familiarizing themselves with the basic workings of this profession.
As members of MASC, what do you gain from offering workshops and performances in schools and communities?
Éric: The workshops we offer to schools are an important way for us to build bridges between the community and our artists. It’s also a way for us to expose young people to our work, knowing that in some cases it will be the first time that students will be exposed to this art form. When we see these young people attending productions in our theatre later on, it is so gratifying! Finally, offering workshops and performances is also a way for us to fulfill our mission to bring the performing arts to life in French in Ottawa.
Stéphane: I’ve been offering training in schools, including through MASC, for about 15 years now. I’ve been lucky enough to see some students grow up who were, at the time, shy and reserved and who now have very interesting artistic careers. It’s a great job to feel that you can make a difference in someone’s life… and even see the results a few years later!