WELCOME TO THE HOME OF VIVID IMAGINATION: MAISON THÉÂTRE
March 7, 2019
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Are you familiar with Maison Théâtre? It’s a unique spot in the Quartier des Spectacles, where you can bring your kids (ages 2 to 17) for some of the best theatre from Quebec and around the world. In addition to staging more than 15 shows a year, Maison Théâtre presents a range of educational activities covering all things theatrical.
The organization’s new artistic director, Sophie Labelle, spoke with us about her vision, sharing details about the venue, which was designed especially for young audiences.
How did you develop such a passion for youth theatre?
I graduated from Collège Lionel-Groulx in 1996 with a diploma in theatre, and went to work for Théâtre Le Clou, which specializes in youth theatre. As a 20-something it was a real revelation! I met so many generous, committed, sensitive professionals there. They were aware of the social aspect of their work, including the responsibilities that come with performing for young people. Youth plays are very open, in terms of form, dramaturgy and aesthetics.
What is Maison Théâtre’s artistic vision?
I spend a lot of time thinking about the place and role of children and teens in our society, and how we portray the world to them. That thought process informs my artistic choices. My vision is also built on discussions with young people. We have a privileged position, being located in the heart of Montreal and welcoming more than 50,000 spectators a year. So it’s an extraordinary place for listening to what young people, our audience, have to say. After all, youth theatre is concerned with the same things as adult theatre: how we relate to others, aging, fear, loss.
What makes the Maison Théâtre different from other theatres?
For 35 years, Maison Théâtre has never shied away from taking risks. Youth creators can talk about anything, but the key is in how they do it. Our shows entertain the audience, but they can also explore some delicate topics, and that means parents are also involved.
For example, on Sundays we discuss ideas with kids as young as 4! Philosophy helps them develop a critical sense as spectators, expand their capacity for expression and help frame their thinking in relation to other people. We also have a special library in this area, built with the Grande Bibliothèque’s youth space. Having a relationship with art helps develop the imagination and makes it easier to form considered opinions on the ideas expressed by artists. Theatre has a lot to offer to us as individuals and as a community. We also stage plays for teens. We focus on a narrow age group, 14 to 17, who tend to be particularly interested in theatre that they can identify with. The result is some emotionally charged shows!
Maison Théâtre has a uniquely pleasant atmosphere. What’s behind the space’s feeling of well-being and homey warmth?
When a child or teen enters Maison Théâtre, we want them to feel like home. The space was designed specifically for young audiences. The rows of seats are well spaced, so you can get up and go to the bathroom during the show without disturbing anyone. We want a lively room where children can comment, laugh, cry out. Not only are the artists are used to it, it’s actually part of the pleasure of performing for young audiences.
May 29 to June 9
2 1/2 to 5 years
This new story by the Théâtre des Petites Âmes delights small children by transporting them to a timeless workshop – a world crafted from old newspapers and scraps of metal. It is the home of MAPA, a tailor who cares for little creatures who’ve had rough lives. In her skilled hands, they come back to life and continue on their way. One day, a tiny creature comes to her, devastated...
On May 13, Maison Théâtre will unveil its 2019/2020 season. Parents and grandparents will enjoy accompanying the little ones for this new season. Subscribe to make the most of it!
More information: Maison Théâtre