la Chapelle Montreal theatre 30

Montreal theatre la Chapelle turns 30 today

We spoke to manager Olivier Bertrand about changes in live theatre, past and present.

On the occasion of the local cultural institution’s 30th anniversary, Cult MTL communicated with la Chapelle manager Olivier Bertrand about how the Montreal company’s mandate and audience have changed and what upcoming live theatre productions might look like — and when we might expect to see any.

Cult MTL: How has la Chapelle’s mandate and audience changed over time?

Olivier Bertrand: Under the impetus of Richard Simas, la Chapelle began in 1990 without a specific mandate except that of offering a multidisciplinary alternative scene in Montreal, a rarity at the time. From the very first years, la Chapelle was occupied by young artists from all disciplines and the theatre established itself as a space open to the most adventurous experiences.

Over the years, and now even more than before, la Chapelle has also confirmed itself as a space that welcomed the two linguistic communities, French and English, by regularly presenting productions in both languages. The mandate remains to showcase contemporary creation in all its diversity: a diversity of forms, generations, cultures. La Chapelle is a place of adventure for artists and audiences, which has managed to cross the decades with consistency and in an organic way, by remaining attentive to the world of the performing arts and its changes.

CM: Is there a specific professional highlight at la Chapelle that you can describe? A particular production or a moment of growth for the space?

OB: From its earliest years to the present, under the leadership of its three departments, la Chapelle has focused all of its attention on the artists and their teams and has devoted itself to offering them a space for creation suiting their needs as much as possible. Many of them took their first steps there and many of them then had the opportunity to develop their work on many other Montreal and international stages. Some of these renowned artists today like to come back to la Chapelle to present more experimental works that will find their rightful place on our stage. The artists come to la Chapelle and feel at home there, confident and ready to give free rein to their creativity. The format of the room, its privacy, its volume, its stage / room relationship offering good visibility, its acoustics, its playing space … all these elements contribute to the quality of the experience of the process of creation and representation . In general, little is said about the format of the rooms and their technical advantages. While all these specificities, have undoubtedly participated in the pleasures and the attachment that many of us have for la Chapelle, whether on stage or in the hall.

CM: How has your team reacted to COVID-19 and do you foresee reopening with social distancing measures in place?

OB: We are awaiting the instructions related to the resumption of cultural activities, which should be communicated during the month of June by the Minister of Culture. We are fortunate to be able to wait for the moment and we will then organize ourselves by considering the health instructions which will be recommended for the recovery. Our 30th season, 2020-2021, will exist, but we do not yet know in what form. It will undoubtedly be necessary to adapt and shake up certain habits. But that’s what we’re here for and that’s what we love to do. It is important for us above all to reverse this apparently unfavourable situation and to seize this opportunity so that it is constructive by offering artists a favourable ground so that artists here can continue their artistic explorations, or even lead them further. The stage is a space inseparable from living art and we hope to be able to welcome the artistic teams back to our hall this summer so that they can work there. ■

La Chapelle website

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