Selected by Olivier Choinière
After graduating from UQÀM in 2004, Annick Lefebvre founded Le Crachoir (The Spittoon), a company that questions the role of the author at the heart of the creative process, as well as the process of production and performance of a work. She is the author of Ce samedi il pleuvait (It Was Raining That Saturday), a finalist for the 2011 prix Gratien-Gélinas and the 2013 prix Michel-Tremblay. In 2013-14, she was among the group of emerging writers in “Contes Urbains” at La Licorne. This season, she will be on stage at the Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui in the cast of 26 lettres: abécédaire des mots en perte des sens, a new play by Olivier Choinière, and the same theatre where her own play, J’accuse, will be directed by Sylvain Bélanger in April, 2015. Meanwhile, in France, her first play for adolescents, La machine à révolte, will be produced in Alsace and in Basse-Normandie. Annick is about to complete Prends-moi, which she is co-writing with Guiseppe Lonobile (Belgium) and Olivier Sylvestre (Québec), in addition to beginning work on ColoniséEs, her next dramatic projectile.
In September, 1999, I am doing my B.A. to become a high school French teacher. Some friends who are studying theatre take me to see the first production of le Théâtre du Grand Jour. The play is called Autodafé and is written by Olivier Choinière. I’ve never heard of Olivier Choinière but I do know the play makes me discover writing that’s like a punch in the face and to which I respond. Along with seeing the show, the audience can take part in a contest: “Write your own Revolutionary Manifesto.” I try my hand. A full year later, I get a call from Sylvain Bélanger, Artistic Director of the company, telling me “In the end, we commissioned manifestos from professional writers, but we’ve organised an event that will take place at Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui and we want your piece to be part of the show.” That’s how, in 2000, when I couldn’t be further from thinking I would ever write for the theatre, Olivier Choinière staged To Shout From All the Rooftops wherein my words were heard by an audience for the very first time.
Next, we jump ahead thirteen years. Thirteen years, during which I ditch my B.A. in teaching, become an apprentice in the creation of the play Incendies (Scorched) by Wajdi Mouawad and I write my first play. Olivier Choinière offers to mentor me in the rewriting and production. On April 9, 2013, at the opening of my play, Ce samedi il peuvait (That Saturday, It Rained), Olivier’s girlfriend, Mélissa, comes to sit beside me and asks if I’m nervous. I say yes. She tells me Olivier is, too. I say impossible. I can’t imagine Olivier could be stressed. Olivier arrives and Mélissa takes his hand and puts it in mine. The clammy palm confirms that he’s a mess, but I know he believes in the work one hundred percent. And in the play… And, I think, in me.
In the spring of 2015, my second play will be produced at Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, on the same stage as new works by Wajdi Mouawad and Olivier Choinière, which moves me deeply. This season, I will also take part in a collective orchestrated by Olivier. For it, I have dedicated the text I will read to Marianne Dansereau. Marianne is a young actor of 23, but most of all, she is someone who writes plays that blow me away. And, like Olivier once did with me, I will do whatever it takes to ensure that audiences can hear her voice as soon as possible. Just last week, I got a call from Marianne, telling me that Olivier has offered to mentor her in the writing of her next play. I immediately ran out to buy champagne because all these threads meet with a confluence that still moves me deeply.
Thank you, Olivier Choinière, for guiding all my flights; I never thought I’d use the metaphor of a bird to thank you, but I’m sticking to it: thank you for my wings. And “my wings” is also the term we use for a licence to fly, and to me, that feels just right. Yes. To thank you for having taught me to pilot the machine that lets my words take flight in a way that I can make them land wherever I choose, that indeed feels absolutely right!
Thank you, Paul Lefebvre, thank you Marcelle Dubois, thank you Marie-Ève Milot. And thank you to the Siminovitch Prize; thank you for creating an award that encourages real mentorship across multiple generations of artists. I am happy, blessed and honoured to be among you tonight.
Merci à vous tous! Bonne fin de soirée.