Robert Lepage x Ex Machina—Courville
From the mind of theatre wizard Robert Lepage comes an emotional story of adolescent angst set in 1970s Canada
Told through inventive puppetry and spectacular stage effects
The latest brainchild of renowned Canadian playwright and theatre director Robert Lepage, Courville is a moving portrait of teenage angst and a visual spectacle that combines puppetry with dazzling stage effects, lighting and projections.
Set in the 1970s, in the titular former municipality of Quebec City that no longer exists, this intimate, semi-autographical theatre production follows the life of 17-year-old Simon, who finds himself tormented and alienated by the complex web of intense emotions woven by interpersonal relationships, sexual awakening and social unrest. With tenderness and compassion, Courville takes the audience on a sentimental journey exploring the external and internal worlds of an adolescent boy as he anxiously navigates his family, society, peers and his own psychological changes.
True to his reputation as a trailblazing stage magician, in Courville Lepage employs the innovative use of bunraku, a traditional form of Japanese puppet theatre. Puppets of various shapes and sizes play the array of characters in the story, from the protagonist Simon to his friends and widowed mother. By injecting adolescent memories and feelings into these inanimate objects, Lepage blurs the lines between the real and the surreal, sublimating the story into a transcendental experience that offers heightened visual sensations and emotional authenticity.
The puppetry is supported by an exquisitely designed, one-of-a-kind stage fitted with inventive mechanisms that facilitate constant set changes and cinematic imagery. A double-layered platform is built to allow seamless transitions between various locations in Simon’s home and the outside world, with a fluidity that resembles movie montages. In addition to the ingenious use of the stage, the incorporation of the music of British rock band Pink Floyd and compelling sound effects enriches the narrative and lends another layer of sensorial immersion. Through the script and production, Lepage paints a vivid picture of 1970s Canadian suburbia, as well as the rich interior of a young person who resides in it. The combination of emotional honesty and technological wizardry results in a genre-bending theatrical experience that is extraordinarily impactful and magical.
Through this contemplative sketch of a thoughtful young man in a difficult stage of life, Lepage re-examines his own adolescence from a place of maturity, and pays homage to the pain and confusion that helped shape him as a person and as an artist. Courville is a melancholic yet hopeful love letter to youth that will resonate with anyone who remembers the pain and wonder of being a teenager.
Since its premiere in 2021, Courville has been met with wide popular and critical acclaim, winning the Association Québécoise des critiques de théâtre’s Critics’ Prize for Best Stage Direction and the Paul-Bussières Prize for Best Scenography. The show’s highly anticipated upcoming appearance at the 2024 HKAF marks the premiere of its English version.
Performed in English with Chinese surtitles
This production contains smoking scenes and strobe light effect
Recommended for ages 14 or above
Approx. 2 hrs 15 mins with no interval
Ticket Price (HK$)