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La Répétition

CTE photo
A scene from the Theatre Network production of Playing Bare/La Répétition

Drama in one long act by Dominic Champagne, premiered at the Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale / Théâtre Denise-Pelletier (a production of Théâtre Il Va Sans Dire) in 1990, directed by the author and featuring Sylvie Drapeau. It subsequently won the award for best new work from the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre. It was translated by Shelley Tepperman as Playing Bare and opened at the Théâtre la Chapelle, Montreal in 1993, directed by Paulina Abarca-Cantin. It has subsequently been performed, in English, at Theatre Network in September, 2000.

This is a metatheatrical play about theatre, with many allusions to other plays and performances. Luce, a burnt-out actor, decides that she is so emotionally empty that she can play only one role: Lucky in Beckett's En attendant Godot/Waiting for Godot. She decides to enlist non-actors in the roles of Vladimir and Estragon, in order to get a sense of "reality" and "truth." She chooses two estranged friends: Victor, an optimist, who is excited by the life of the theatre; and Etienne, a pessimist, whose life is almost wholly conditioned by the agony he suffers because of his feet. They mirror the lives of the characters they play in contemporary place and time, replicating their confusion, their methods for passing time, and their resistance to a life of waiting. They are usually waiting for Luce, who inspires in them a "true" rendering of the absurdist Beckett world.

During the rehearsals Luce is all stressed-out nihilism, Etienne is caught up, slowly, in the mounting hysteria that leads to the opening, and Victor is so enthusiastic and star-struck he'll do anything to get it right (even catch VD so that he can really feel pain). Near the end of the piece, there is a tone shift and La Répétition reveals itself as a tragicomedy. In a moment of "truth," Victor summons up his courage to lay everything bare, and exposes a blackened penis to the audience.

Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois

Last updated 2021-03-05