Robert Lepage

Jump to: navigation, search

Robert Lepage (b. December 12, 1957) is a French Canadian experimental playwright, actor, director and filmmaker. His works have been noted for their explorations of bilingual culture, innovations in multimedia performance, homosexuality and the human condition. He is based in Quebec City, Quebec.

Lepage at the European première of Cirque du Soleil's Totem in Amsterdam, October 2010

Early Life

Lepage was born in Quebec in 1957. At age five, he was diagnosed with a rare form of alopecia, which subsequently caused most of his hair to fall out. He also struggled with clinical depression in his teens, brought on largely by his homosexuality and his experiences of alienation associated with it[1].

He entered the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec in 1975 at the age of 17. After a study period in Paris under the tutelage of Alain Knapp in 1978, he returned to Quebec and became involved in many creative projects, gaining experience as an actor, playwright and director. In 1980, he joined the newly formed Théâtre Repère.


During his time at Théâtre Repère, Lepage worked with Irène Roy and Jacques Lessard to create Circulations (1984), which was presented across Canada and later won for best production at La Quinzaine Internationale de Théâtre de Québec. The following year, he created The Dragons' Trilogy, a five-and-a-half hour epic play following the complex fortunes of two French-Canadian female cousins and their families over 75 years[2]. It opened to critical praise, and international recognition. Vinci (1986), Polygraphe (1987–1990) and Tectonic Plates (1988–1990) followed and were also toured extensively around the world.

Between 1989 and 1993, Lepage served as the artistic director of the National Arts Centre's Théâtre français in Ottawa. While there, he continued to stage plays. His productions of Needles and Opium, Coriolanus, Macbeth, The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream were all created and staged in that period.

In 1994, Lepage founded Ex Machina, a multidisciplinary production company, for which he continues to serve as artistic director. Lepage and Ex Machina have toured numerous productions internationally, including The Seven Streams of the River Ota (1994) and Elsinore (1995). Lepage was commissioned in 1994 to direct August Strindberg's A Dream Play at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm, Sweden. The production premiered in the fall of that year and guest played in the spring of 1995 in Glasgow Scotland. Geometry of Miracles premiered in 1998 and was followed in 2000 by The Far Side of the Moon (French: La Face cachée de la lune). A solo show, Lepage juxtaposed the Cold War competition of the United States and the Soviet Union in the race to develop their national space programs with the story of two Québécois brothers. One straight, and the other, gay, he centered the production on their competitive relationship after the death of their mother.[3] The Far Side of the Moon went on to win numerous awards, including four trophies at le Gala des Masques, a Time Out Award and the Evening Standard Award. The show was later adapted into a 2003 film of the same name.

Lepage has directed five other feature films: The Confessional (Le Confessionnal) (1995), Le Polygraphe (1996), (1998), Possible Worlds (2000) and Triptyque (2013) (the latter co-directed by Pedro Pires), and has acted in films by other directors, notably Jesus of Montreal (Jésus de Montréal) (1989) and Stardom (2001) by Denys Arcand. He has also been involved in music productions, being the stage director for the Secret World Tour by Peter Gabriel in 1993/1994, and the subsequent Growing Up tour in 2003/2004. He directed a number of operas, including Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung at the Canadian Opera Company, The Damnation of Faust in Japan and Paris, and Lorin Maazel's 1984 at the Royal Opera House in London in 2005. Finally, Cirque du Soleil asked him to create the permanent Las Vegas show named at the MGM Grand in 2005.

The Andersen Project is his last solo play inspired by the life and works of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen and his tale "The Dryad"; it received many international prizes and, after being presented by Lepage himself in more than ten countries, is currently starring Yves Jacques who did the same in the past for The Far Side of the Moon.

Lipsynch, his large-canvas work, premiered in its first version in Newcastle upon Tyne's Northern Stage in February 2007 in its 5-hour version; it is now 9 hours long. He also staged Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, which was presented in Brussels' Opéra de la Monnaie in April 2007 and San Francisco War Memorial Opera House in November 2007.

Recent projects include The Image Mill, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. For forty nights, residents and visitors could see the biggest outdoor architectural projection ever made in the world. In forty minutes, Lepage and Ex Machina celebrated four centuries of human and materiel development right where the river narrows, on the banks of Bassin Louise, using the huge surface of the Bunge grain elevators as a giant screen. More than a historic tableau, The Image Mill represented a lighthearted and lively illustration in three dimensions of the city's past, present and future. A mosaic of icons, sounds and ideas covering four great epochs in the progress of Quebec City: 1) the age of waterways and exploration; 2) the age of roads and settlement; 3) the age of railroads and development; 4) the age of air travel and communication. The first presentation of this portrait of Quebec City took place at sundown on June 20, 2008, the evening of the summer solstice.[4]

In November 2008, Lepage directed a staged version of Hector Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.[5] On February 25, 2009, he premiered a new work entitled Eonnagata at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK. He has worked on this alongside the dancers Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant, fashion designer Alexander McQueen, lighting designer Michael Hulls and sound designer Jean-Sébastien Côté.

His production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, conducted by Christopher Hogwood, was re-released at the Teatro Real, Madrid, in January 2009. In spring 2009, Lepage presented The Blue Dragon (Le Dragon Bleu), a sequel to his Dragons' Trilogy, in which he reprised (more than twenty years later) the role of Pierre Lamontagne, a Québécois artist who lives in China.

In fall 2009, Lepage directed The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, an operatic staging of short works by Stravinsky blending hand shadow puppetry, Kabuki theatre, Chinese opera and Vietnamese water puppetry. The Canadian Opera Company in Toronto premiered the work. Lepage then wrote and directed Totem, Cirque du Soleil's next touring show,[6] as well as on a new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner for the Metropolitan Opera of New York. The series was presented in installments during the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons – Das Rheingold and Die Walküre were premiered during the 2010/2011 season,[7] Siegfried premiered on October 27, 2011,[8] and Götterdämmerung premiered on January 27, 2012.[9] Lepage's complete Ring cycle premiered in April 2012. The Metropolitan Opera had to install steel reinforcements under the stage in order to support Lepage's roughly 45 tonne set.[10] Lepage was featured in a 2012 documentary about the Met Ring production, Wagner's Dream.[11]

In 2012, he appeared as a hologram in Martin Villeneuve's Mars et Avril, a science fiction film based on the graphic novels of the same name.[12] His autobiographical "memory play", 887 played in New York City and Toronto in 2017.[13] In an associated interview, he calls himself a "lukewarm separatist".[14]


  • Le Dragon bleu (The Blue Dragon)
  • Lipsynch
  • Le Projet Andersen (The Andersen Project)
  • Busker's Opera
  • La Face cachée de la lune (The Far Side of the Moon)
  • La Casa Azul
  • Zulu Time
  • La Tempête (The Tempest)
  • La Géométrie des miracles (Geometry of Miracles)
  • Les Sept Branches de la Rivière Ota (The Seven Streams of the River Ota)
  • Elseneur (Elsinor)
  • Les Aiguilles et l'Opium (Needles and Opium)
  • Les Plaques tectoniques (Tectonic Plates)
  • La Trilogie des Dragons (The Dragons' Trilogy)
  • Le Polygraphe (Polygraph)
  • Vinci
  • Circulations
  • Eonnagatta
  • 887



  • 1989: Jesus of Montreal (Jésus de Montréal)
  • 1990: Ding et Dong le film
  • 1991: Montréal vu par... (segment "Desperanto")
  • 1992: Tectonic Plates
  • 1994: Bad Blood (aka Viper)
  • 2000: Stardom
  • 2003: Far Side of the Moon
  • 2004: L'Audition
  • 2006: No-Vacancy
  • 2006: Dans les villes
  • 2007: La belle empoisonneuse
  • 2012: Mars et Avril


  • 1992: Tectonic Plates
  • 1995: The Confessional (Le Confessionnal)
  • 1996: Le Polygraphe
  • 1998:
  • 2000: Possible Worlds
  • 2003: The Far Side of the Moon


  • 1995: The Confessional (Le Confessionnal)
  • 1996: Le Polygraphe
  • 1998:
  • 2000: Possible Worlds
  • 2003: The Far Side of the Moon
  • 2013: Triptych


In 1994, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his innovative contributions to film and theatre-form. In 1999, he was made an Officer of the National Order of Quebec. In 2001 he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto. He was promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 2009 for his international contributions to the performing arts, particularly in film, theatre and opera, as an actor, producer and director.

On April 29, 2007, he was awarded the European Commission's Europe Theatre Prize for 2007. The honours were to be shared between Lepage and German stage director Peter Zadek, but Zadek did not show up and was not awarded the prize.

In 1994, Lepage received the National Arts Centre Award, a companion award to the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. In 2009, Lepage received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. He could not attend the ceremony but accepted the award via a pre-recorded speech. He was nominated for the Genie Award for Best Achievement in Direction for his films Le Polygraphe, Possible Worlds, and Far Side of the Moon. He won the award for his film The Confessional (Le Confessionnal).

He was nominated for the Jutra Award for Best Direction for his film while winning the Special Jutra Award for Possible Worlds. In 2013, Lepage was awarded the tenth Glenn Gould Prize, among whose former winners include Leonard Cohen, Pierre Boulez, Oscar Peterson and Lord Yehudi Menuhin.[15]



Name:Robert Lepage
Location:Quebec City, Quebec
Latitude:46.8139° N
Longitude:71.2080° W