The innovative and imaginative theatre company Moncton-Sable has been working as a collective troupe in Moncton, New Brunswick since 1997. Since their first successful piece, entitled Moncton-Sable, they have collectively created eight pieces, generally basing their work on objects or matter. The group consists of six francophone artists: Louise Lemieux, director; Jean Surette, musician; Philip Andre Colette, Amelie Gosselin, and Lynne Surette, actors; and, since 2001, Karene Chiasson, actor. As a collective, the group researches and rehearses each piece over an extended period of time before sharing their work with an audience. During the development phase, they use physical and vocal improvisation techniques to flesh out the characters and themes. Most often, they work closely with one or more musicians during the process, who help transform the playing space and generate an aesthetic through sound and music. The writer is also part of the creative process, and the text is developed during the rehearsal process rather than prior. To date, the writers that have collaborated with the company include France Daigle, Paul Bosse, and Monique Snow, all of whom write in other forms (poetry, novel) aside from theatre. There is no hierarchical order within the company and all creative decisions happen collectively; rather than making authoritative decisions, the director facilitates the process.
In a short period of rime the company has attracted a strong following, frequently playing to sold out theatres. Their professional standards have also attracted funding from the Canada Council and the New Brunswick Arts Council, but, perhaps more importantly, their original approach to working is having, according to Dave Lonergan, "a major impact on the theatrical scene in Moncton" (xi). Moncton-Sable has quickly gained artistic respect within the province of New Brunswick through their physical, visual, and poetic work, and the company's uniqueness complements other more established francophone groups such as Theatre de l'Escaouette and Theatre Populaire d'Acadie.
The following interview that I conducted with artistic director Louise Lemieux in January 2005 provides deeper insights into the company's approach and vision of theatre, and the context in which they work.
George Belliveau (GB): How would you describe the company's way of working?
Louise Lemieux (LL): En debut de travail, nous faisons beaucoup de travail d'improvisation muette. Les impros servent a analyser et a incarner les personnages et les situations, dans un vocabulaire physique et concret. Nous travaillons souvent tous sur le meme personnage, cherchant des rythmes, des impulsions physiques. Plus tard, la personne qui jouera le personnage puisera dans les impros pour construire son personnage.
Nous tolerons bien le chaos et laissons les scenes et moments theatraux passer par un grand desordre avant de les organiser. Pendant plusieurs semaines, le futur spectacle ressemble plutot a une accumulation d'elements disparates. Quand le tout est assez riche et complexe, nous passons a une phase d'organisation. A ce moment, le texte est generalement termine et servira a organiser la representation.
GB: Do you begin working towards a particular goal? Or, is it the process that informs where you'll be going?
LL: Nous commencons a repeter avant que le texte soit ecrit, et les auteurs ecrivent de leur cote, n'assistant que rarement au travail de repetition. Nous nous entendons sur un theme, souvent une matiere, et travaillons en parallele. Quand le texte est deja ecrit, nous en tirons une liste de personnages et de situations, et travaillons plusieurs semaines sans texte. Nous repetons de dix a douze semaines, dont six a huit sans texte.
GB: Does someone record the rehearsal process in order to remember or build on for the next session?
LL: Comme nous ne travaillons pas dans le but d'ecrire, nous avancons sans prendre de notes de repetition. …