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Meet Philippe Cyr, Emilie Leclerc and Manon Veldhuis

One week before the opening night of Unité Modèle, we asked the show creators four questions. What are the challenges presented by Guillaume Corbeil’s text? How did they prepare for this project? To what extent are the subjects discussed in Unité Modèle dear to them? What would they say to a potential audience member who has not yet decided to come see it? Discover three different approaches, three stage jobs.

1) To what extent do the subjects discussed in Unité Modèle (gentrification, access to property, consumer society, obsession with image, manipulation, …) touch you as citizens and city dwellers of the 21st century?

Philippe – I would say that, as artists, we often think we chose a trade that lies outside of the world. We soon realize that we are subject to the same diktat in terms of performance and success, minus the material benefits, undoubtedly. We want to make Pinterest boards out of our lives, but ugliness is unavoidable. Why are we putting so much effort into concealing it? To be authentic would mean to agree to share some aspects of ourselves that are less pretty. This text makes me look at the city in a special way. All the real estate projects, the rows of high-end furniture stores, the beautiful luxurious cars… The city seems to be overflowing with wealth. There is something violent in this abundance. Maybe it is because it can at once seduce us and sicken us.

Emilie – All these themes resonate with me, and with most people who will read these words, I imagine. Unless we live in a log cabin deep in the forest or under a rock, we are all consumers and we are all being (more or less) manipulated by those who try to sell us something: a dream, an image, an object, the promise of an improved self. But we too manipulate our own image in one way or another by choosing, for example, what we will be wearing in the morning, and by writing posts on Facebook! As is the case in many parts of Vancouver, there is an attempt at gentrifying my neighbourhood on the east side of the city, and I also dream of owning my own place in this city where it takes too much money for someone to achieve this. So, all these topics speak to me and will, I believe, speak to our audience.

Manon – Especially the Instagramification of daily life and wanting/not wanting to keep up with this is something that can feel exhausting. One way or another I am participating. It attracts me and it makes me want to move away from it at the same time.

 

2) As a stage director, actor, designer, what are the challenges that Guillaume Corbeil’s text presents? How did you prepare for this project?

Philippe –The challenge is that there is an impressive number of ruptures. The text uses numerous narrative devices and plays with the traditional codes of performance. I prepared by identifying the different stages of the story, but also by preparing the creation work in such a way that each element would be as versatile as possible.

Emilie – I read the play several times to better understand all the underlying layers of the text. I also wanted a better grasp of the relationship between the two realtors, and between the audience and the performance. This piece is like an onion: it has several layers and sublayers. Aside from that, I have become more aware of my own behaviours as a consumer and of all the advertisements that surround me every day.

Manon – To create a set and costumes that relate to a ‘’perfect world’ and can become something else. When creating a set and costumes, I rely a lot on the initial feeling that I get from reading the script, this I turn into a concept. From there I start designing spaces and matching this up with materials that represent that initial feeling.

 

3) Why, in your opinion, is Unité Modèle a high point of the beginning of this fall’s cultural season, and what would you say to a potential audience member who has not yet decided to come see it?

Philippe – As a member of the team, it would be quite arrogant of me to say that Unité Modèle is a high point of the season. We’ll wait and see how people like it… To the undecided, this challenging performance is a must-see. Corbeil’s text is a gem: it’s extremely well-constructed, and the author takes a sharp look at our society.

Emilie – The real question is: why go to the theatre when you can be comfortably at home watching Netflix and eating popcorn? For me, the theatre remains a meeting place, and it gives the audience the opportunity to have a unique and immersive experience. To come to life, Unité Modèle needs the audience! This encounter between the audience and the performance is at the heart of the play, especially when the fourth wall completely disappears during some segments. Aside from entertaining while allowing the audience to live intense emotions, Philippe’s staging and Guillaume’s words really have the potential to make the people in the audience think and question, and gives them the opportunity to experience something different at the theatre. So, come see it!

Manon – It’s a very interesting story with a lot of layers and opportunities to connect it to living in the 21st century. It’s especially interesting for what is going on in Vancouver (as well as in Amsterdam), the future of young people and how this affects daily life, choices and mindsets. Besides that, I think it’s a very interesting group of creators coming together that makes this an exciting play!

 

4) Two words to describe the play?

Philippe – Sweet and sticky

Emilie – Dream and reality

Manon – Exhaustingly exciting