A certain danger: Contemporary performer engagement with the texts and methodology of Robert Lepage

Keywords: theatre, drama, devising, directing, acting, text, RSVP, decalage, Lepage


Between September 2008 and February 2009, a cohort of third year Drama Studies undergraduates at De Montfort University (DMU) in the UK adapted and then performed ‘The Seven Streams of the River Ota’ by Robert Lepage and Ex Machina. In my capacity as a module tutor, I acted as a director for the project. The original professional production developed between 1994 and 1996 was indelibly connected to and constructed upon the individual, creative contributions of the artistic company (performers and technicians) that Lepage assembled. It is therefore, arguably, a multiple set of autobiographical narratives. By perceiving the text in this way, as a reflexive creation, it prompts several questions for practitioners: · What potential is there for performers to find creative ownership and authorship when they are approaching such a text for the first time?· Can the ‘embers’ of the written dramatic text ignite a new performance text? · What performance challenges are created when performers are asked to navigate between written (dramatic) and devised (performance) text within one production? The intention of this paper is to illuminate and analyze these questions by correlating our specific rehearsal and performance experience with the contemporary debate on Lepage’s own work. Reflections will be offered upon the possibilities and challenges created for performers in the intersection between an extant dramatic text of Lepage and the personalized, devising imperative of his working methodology.

Author Biography


Senior lecturer - Drama Studies

De Montfort University