Satellite Théâtre bring Golem to life with performances in Fredericton and Saint John in April.
Satellite Théâtre has been touring New Brunswick for eight years now. Founded in 2009 by Marc-André Charron and Mathieu Chouinard, two Canadian actors who met at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris, the company has produced many of their own works along with several collaborations and co-productions with Caraquet’s Théâtre populaire d’Acadie.
Originally based in Montreal, the company relocated to Moncton last summer where Charon and Chouinard’s unique form of storytelling is helping to broaden the province’s vibrant theatre community by challenging audience’s preconceived notions of theatre, presenting works rich with imagination and creativity.
“We’re an image and movement based company that holds to a few principles,” said co-founder Marc-André Charron. “The human body is the foremost vehicle by which we experience life. That is also true of the actor on stage and the audience watching. Hence the body is our preferred motor of creation. Second, we encourage chaos in the creative process for as long as possible. We change things around, we throw away hours of work, we switch which actor is doing which part. Our hope is that, as we put ourselves off balance, we find new and surprising things to share with the audience.”
The company thrives on collaboration and has worked with actors, dancers, puppeteers and acrobats from around the world. And outside of regular performances in Canada, Satellite Théâtre has also toured and performed their work in parts Japan, Africa and Mexico.
“We look to collaborate with people hailing from different walks of life,” said Charron, “all in the hopes that these meetings, bumping off of each other, will make something exciting and fresh emerge.”
The company’s latest production, Golem, is a perfect example of the type of theatre Charron and Chouinard aim to create with their company. It’s a highly collaborative project that involves actors, dancers and musicians working together on stage to bring an idea to life.
“Golem is a story as old as time,” said Charron. “What happens when our ambitions finally come true? Is there is happiness or solace in this? How much control do we have over the things we create?
“These reflections came to me as I was arguing with my three year old daughter,” he said. “I have very little control over who she is and what she becomes. I’ve had to deal and bargain with her just to have 20 minutes to answer your questions this morning. Yet we have such a sense of ownership when it comes to our children, I find it odd. In no way is she mine.”
“The performance is bilingual so that audiences don’t have to be.”
Satellite Théâtre’s production, Golem, has been described as a “theatrical sci-fi performance” and takes its name from the creature of Jewish folklore, created from clay and mud and brought to life with little regard for the inevitable consequences surrounding the creation of ‘life’.
“What will happen when artificial intelligence comes into our lives fully,” said Charron. “Will we make them slaves? Will they get to vote or have a love life? These are the questions we had in the rehearsal room, in English, French and Mandarin, with a team coming from different faiths.”
The story blends old world ideas with modern interpretations to create a highly relatable narrative.
“Audiences can expect to be dazzled visually,” said Charon, “and can expect a back and forth between hi-energy action and soothing, calm moments. They can expect theatre and dance in a way that isn’t musical theatre, although we do have four live classical musicians working with a hip-hop composer.”
The company’s upcoming bilingual performances in Fredericton and Saint John will include live music by Montreal-based composer Maxime Lemond, a.k.a Jertrude Battue and performed by members of Tutta Musica, an ensemble comprised of instructors from Sistema New Brunswick.
“The performance is bilingual so that audiences don’t have to be,” said Charron. “We hope French and English audiences can sit together at the show and be moved together as they watch on.”
New Brunswick has witnesses a growing number of bilingual theatre collaborations this season beginning with the Theatre New Brunswick/ Théâtre populaire d’Acadie popular collaboration, A Sunday Affair, which toured the province last fall and featured Satellite Théâtre co-founder Mathieu Chouinard.
The company also recently collaborated with Solo Chicken Productions and Next Folding Theatre Company to present a evening of new work in both French and English for audiences in Moncton and Fredericton.
“We studied in a school with people from 30 countries, speaking 20 languages,” said Charron. “We’ve made it a habit of building shows where emotion and language are not the same thing. If you miss a few words intellectually, you should get all the heart.”
In a recent interview with CBC Radio’s afternoon program Shift, Charron admits the company’s interest in challenging audience’s ideas of theatre and believes New Brunswick audiences are up to the challenge.
“We’ve presented weird stuff in New Brunswick before and honestly, if I didn’t think people were game for this kind of stuff I wouldn’t have moved my company and my family over here,” he said. “I think often times we kind of sell our audience short because this kind of stuff hasn’t been presented, but I’m sure people are capable of having a lot of fun.”