The FTA: bold programming, in theatres and outdoors

May 19, 2015

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From May 21 to June 4, Festival TransAmériques (FTA) will present a rich, ambitious program to please its loyal audience and attract the curious to the festival’s exciting mix of creative works. For the last nine years, the event has showcased dance and theatre, and this year it will feature more outdoor offerings than ever, thanks in part to the performance installation Ceci n’est pas… co-presented by the FTA and the Quartier des Spectacles Partnership from May 21 to 30 in the Place des Festivals. Featuring powerful images depicting social taboos, the work is sure to surprise audiences and spark conversations among viewers and passers-by.

We spoke with Martin Faucher, the FTA’s co-executive director and artistic director.

The FTA will take over the Place des Festivals from May 21 to 30 with Ceci n’est pas… What is it, exactly?

It is a show presented in the heart of the city in which everyone, whether they are attending the FTA or not, is confronted with an artwork that questions the human being’s place in the city. It includes themes that may be disturbing, that will shake people out of their comfort zone, like religion, difference, multiculturalism. There will be a different theme every day for ten days. I believe this piece will provoke strong reactions and discussions among spectators.

What does the installation look like?

It’s a cabin with four glass walls located at the corner of Jeanne-Mance and Sainte-Catherine. Every day from 1 to 7 p.m., steel blinds will open to reveal a tableau vivant depicting a social taboo. Passers-by are free to stop and ponder the scene, or simply to move on. As in a museum, there will be a card putting each day’s tableau in context. Ceci n’est pas… is by the Dutch artist Dries Verhoeven. It was originally presented at the Performing Arts Festival in Utrecht in May 2013. The tableaux will be same as in the original work, down to the last detail. However, the cards describing the scene have been adapted for the realities of Canada and Montreal.

Does the FTA consider it important to present works in public spaces?

Absolutely. We wanted to hold the festival in both indoor and outdoor venues, so as to reach large, diverse audiences. Ceci n’est pas… fits perfectly with that approach.

The FTA’s QG, in the Agora at UQAM’s Cœur des sciences, will have activities throughout the festival. Festivalgoers can drop in for a snack, a drink, dancing, presentations and discussions. It’s a popular spot at happy hour, and for evening dance parties. It’s also the place to meet and talk to the artists involved in the festival.

Martin, this is your first FTA program. What was your approach to selecting the productions?

When I see a show, I need to be engaged intellectually or emotionally. Those are usually reliable guides to programming a work for the FTA. There needs to be a strong connection between the show and each person in the audience.

What are your favourite shows being held at the indoor venues this year?

I have 25 favourites! But I’ll tell you about a few of them:


May 29 to June 1, Monument-National, English with French supertitles, by Alain Platel.

The work combines dance and theatre, and shows how it is possible to live with great dignity even if you are on the margins of society’s socio-economic norms.

By Heart

May 29 to 31, Place des Arts, by Portuguese artist Tiago Rodrigues.

This extraordinary piece is about the transmission of the love for art and literature from one generation to the next. It’s an essential work in a Quebec where we are making decisions that put us at serious risk of undermining that transmission of knowledge.


June 2 to 4, Maison Théâtre, English with French subtitles, by Richard Maxwell.

Lastly, this play is a poetic comedy about an actress with amnesia who is in a love affair that carries her into a dream world.


May 21 to June 4

Ceci n’est pas…

Place des Festivals
May 21 to 30
1 p.m.