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A 25 Magie Nouvelle's shows-concerts tour for Public Housing Project's courtyards in Montréal

September 2020. In between two COVID-19 confinements, the illusionist and magician Marc-Alexandre Brûlé and the musician and theatre artist and Andrée-Anne Gingras-Roy offered us a tour of outdoor shows for the elderly and underprivileged families of the Island of Montreal. Thanks to the support of the Quand l'Art Prend l'Air program of the Conseil de Arts de Montréal, nearly 1000 spectators were able to enjoy LIVE this duo entitled LES ILLUSIONNISTES, a theatrical hybrid between a concert of unusual instruments and a show of contemporary illusionism, an outside the walls project unique in Quebec.


"I had dreamed for a long time of a magic recital" , says Marc-Alexandre, designer of the show and instigator of the project. “There was going to be very little for families this summer, let alone those in disadvantaged areas of the city, and these living environments have superb interior courtyards, perfect for this proposal. Especially since residents could stay on their balcony to watch the show! "


In partnership with some fifteen neighborhood round tables and community organizations, the spontaneous performances took place in various gardens of the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal and were of course only announced secretly to local residents to avoid any gathering and to be able to religiously respect the public health measures.

 
 

September 2020. In between two COVID-19 confinements, the illusionist and magician Marc-Alexandre Brûlé and the musician and theatre artist and Andrée-Anne Gingras-Roy offered us a tour of outdoor shows for the elderly and underprivileged families of the Island of Montreal. Thanks to the support of the Quand l'Art Prend l'Air program of the Conseil de Arts de Montréal, nearly 1000 spectators were able to enjoy LIVE this duo entitled LES ILLUSIONNISTES, a theatrical hybrid between a concert of unusual instruments and a show of contemporary illusionism, an outside the walls project unique in Quebec.


"I had dreamed for a long time of a magic recital" , says Marc-Alexandre, designer of the show and instigator of the project. “There was going to be very little for families this summer, let alone those in disadvantaged areas of the city, and these living environments have superb interior courtyards, perfect for this proposal. Especially since residents could stay on their balcony to watch the show! "


In partnership with some fifteen neighborhood round tables and community organizations, the spontaneous performances took place in various gardens of the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal and were of course only announced secretly to local residents to avoid any gathering and to be able to religiously respect the public health measures.

partenaires principaux

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The artists

LES-ILLUSIONNISTES-PORTRAIT-ANDREE-ANNE.

ANDRÉE-ANNE GINGRAS-ROY

Multi-instrumentalist musician and theater woman, ANDRÉE-ANNE GINGRAS-ROY has a master's degree from the Conservatoire de Musique de Québec as well as a performance diploma (combined music and theater) from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Andrée-Anne has been roaming the biggest stages on the planet for more than 15 years, first with Cirque Éloize and then with Compania Finzi Pasca. She contributed as a close collaborator of the director Daniele Finzi Pasca to the creation of the show Avudo - 375th Montreal and the opening ceremony of the Paraolympic Games in Sochi. She is also a composer and photographer.

LES-ILLUSIONNISTES-PORTRAIT-MARC-ALEXAND

MARC-ALEXANDRE BRÛLÉ

Circus artist trained in Theatre, MARC-ALEXANDRE BRÛLÉ is a magician and designer of illusions based in Montreal. For 18 years, he has worked for the event industry where he has entertained events for hundreds of institutions. He is also artistic director of the iLLUSIONs DESIGN studio (www.illusions.design/fr) with which he creates and produces illusions and magical effects for the stage (Kodo / ExMachina - Robert Lepage; Daniele Finzi Pasca - Teatro Sunil / Cirque Éloize; Arturo Brachetti, Franco Dragone and Serge Postigo - Juste Pour Rire Spectacles National Theater School Opening Ceremony of the Quebec Games. He was a student of renowned magicians Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride. Complete bio HERE .

Les Illusionnistes

Magie Nouvelle'S RECITAL

in PHYSICAL DISTANCING MODE

- CREDITS - 

Designed, written and directed by Marc-Alexandre Brûlé


Magical content and illusions: Marc-Alexandre Brûlé

Music: Andrée-Anne Gingras-Roy

Interpretation: Marc-Alexandre Brûlé and Andrée-Anne Gingras-Roy

 

Director, external eye and clown acting coach: Jesse Dryden

 

Sound and technical design consultant: Daniel Petit

 

Sound engineer, programming, MIDI: Jesse Léveillé

 

Production, booking and communications: Illusions Design Studio , Marc-Alexandre Brûlé

Diving bell prop: Atelier Alain Jenkins

Musical Instruments: G2 , Twigg Music , Percussion Warehouse

Main financial partner: Conseil des Arts de Montréal

Many thanks to Nathalie Morin, Élaine St-Onge, Danielle Lacroix, Véronique Lévesque-Arguin at the Office municipale d'habitation de Montréal for your full confidence in this project;

to Bernard, Samir and Leonardo from the Parish of St-Pierre Claver and Sergey Goulicof and to the Municipality of Frelighsburg for the work residences;

to Vincent Deronde for the welcome; to Olivier Bousquet  from MU & Anne-Marie Hamel  for the photographs and visuals;

to Percussions Warehouse for the vibraphone which was just IMPOSSIBLE to get anywhere, thank you!

But above all, all my gratitude to my dear partners who have been the real driving force behind this adventure and who have achieved masterful moves even from a distance:

 

Lucie Caillère, Joëlle Pépin and Yann Sauriol at the Harmony Project ;

Melda Saeedi and Gabrielle Goulet at Le Chez-Nous in Mercier-Est ;

 

France Joyal des Cuisines Collectives À All Vapeurs and Olivier and Romy at L'Axe Ppdi , youth center;

Bernard Besancenot at Multicaf ;

Julie Cormier and Sharon Sweeney from the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Community Council ;

Fanny Langelier and Gabriela Jakubiovits from Coalition de la Petite-Bourgogne - Quartier en santé,

 

Michael Farkas at Youth In Motion ,

Lyudmyla Yastremska at Habitations Workman-Delisle ;

 

Charles-Étienne Filion and Maud Marquer at Action-Gardien, community table - Pointe-Saint-Charles development corporation;

Pascal and Mr Mudi Kabeya from the African Development and Mutual Aid Center ;

Sandra Lesage from Loisirs & Culture Sud-Ouest;

Marie Stabler at Solidarité Ahuntsic ;

Sarah-Laï Nadeau at Entraide Ahuntsic-Nord;

Lynn Morin and Gabrielle from La P'tite Maison St-Pierre ;

Véronica Islas and Soraya Bourguiba from the Carrefour de ressources en interculturel CRIC Center-Sud;

Lucie Côté and Myriam Hamelin from the Corporation des Habitations Jeanne-Mance ;

Chantale de Montigny, Dorian Keller and Michel Cordeau of the Compagnons de Montréal ;

 

and finally

Luana Boxero and Arthur Didier from Resto-Plateau.

Photographic credits: Olivier Bousquet (MU), Anne-Marie Hamel, Philippe Brûlé, Vincent Deronde, Andrée-Anne Gingras-Roy.

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"SPONTANEOUS MAGIC SHOWS directly in their garden"

interview with the artistic director and instigator of the project, Marc-alexandre brûlé.

What was the starting point of your project?


I had a magic recital in mind. My premise was to theatrically exploit this image of the classic Music-Hall man-woman duo, those psychic / telepathic couples that were the standard of magic shows at the time, but removing the magician-assistant dynamic: oftentimes, it's my collaborator (Andrée-Anne Gingras-Roy) who has the lead, who plays the musical pieces, and I accompany her with magical choreographies. There was something about the post-war period, the post-stock market crash that intersected with archival photos of the Spanish flu and the backstreets of Montreal that I saw circulating against a #MeToo background.  It spoke to me and I knew that we could draw from this moments capable of capturing the imagination.


Have you and Andrée-Anne been collaborators for a long time?


Not at all. We had worked together on Nomade and Nebbia (Cirque Éloize & Daniele Finzi Pasca), but Andrée-Anne usually divides her year abroad between Compania Finzi Pasca and a breeding farm in Argentina. The pandemic that brought her to a standstill in the country was an unexpected and exceptional opportunity to create together something unique and above all ephemeral. In the beginning, I was mainly interested by transpositions of jazz standards but I kind of had a crush with her original music and it is finally almost exclusively the brilliant compositions of Andrée-Anne that lined the whole show... and my head! I still have those great melodies stuck in my ear months later ...


A solo musician, isn't that too “minimal” for an outdoor concert?


We were traveling with our own complete sound system, the same one that I normally use in senior residences or corporate shows. It's top of the range and above all super well mixed by one of the best sound engineers in the province, so that Andrée-Anne can use loops and sequences extensively to double herself, to create orchestral layers, as she does on Donka for example (Compania Finzi Pasca). We can then hear in the same composition violin, voice, accordion and cajon, but all played live by the same person, in superposition. The spectators like to see this at sight construction of musical pieces, like magic tricks whose secrets would be exposed.  And because everything is programmed, that we operate the whole show with our feet, and that there is no technician, it adds to the spontaneous, magical effect. Above all, there is a fascination with this woman-orchestra; she might be the real magician of the show! Although I also contribute in a few pieces playing tuba, ukulele or vocals.

 


And your colleague Andrée-Anne, does she do magic too?


Absolutely. There is among others this number which I adore which is a duet of telepathy, of distance vision, where she is blindfolded and guesses the thoughts or sees objects hidden from the spectators while accompanying herself on the percussions, as I guide the experience through the glass of my diving bell. It's almost parody at times and very post-modern, but in the end it does it for real! This is our moment of spoken interactivity, the only moment where I leave our little distancing enclosure, the perfect opportunity to purge all the Covid-19 gags in one and the same number, to question our being together, and to laugh at this happening now and transpose it into a wacky surrealism. In the second phase of the project, there will be even more magical moments for her; and I will no longer have the choice to start training on the vibraphone :)

I'm looking at your photos and you don't seem to be traveling very "light" for a traveling show?


Indeed, but I only followed the inspiration of the music and what these places demanded both technically and artistically. Above all, by following the evolution of our understanding of the pandemic, this groping discovery of how we would be able, as artists, to contribute effectively through the restrictions. It was necessary to be at the same time light, very visible and intelligible from a distance, how were they going to hear us in their houses, to see us from their balconies, ...? Then gradually, what sprouted as a very light and simple project with a bicycle, an accordion and a few accessories quickly expanded to fill a vehicle to the brim. To end with a complete sound system, furniture, a vibraphone, a tuba, ... with the adaptation and logistics that this implies. But in the end, there are still only two of us. It was still important for me in the context of staying in a portable structure that was going to deliver bread on the boards to artists rather than a technically complex big bang to shine on social media. To be there, in the field, in the trenches, like all good frontline workers. In the end, it was still an ultra light tour where all the equipment and the two artists who traveled in a single vehicle with offset emissions. But the real magic trick in all this is when we closed the trunk at the end of the tear down!


Who was your magic concert for?

I wanted a project that would be able to bring together all ages to simply be together, despite everything, and dilute a little this gloomy Covid-19 in a safe context, but while remaining in the live performing arts. I found it essential to offer an intergenerational work with content capable of touching, of being seen, heard, of being understood equally by 5 to 105 year olds without falling into the easy stuff. I see magic and music as two very primitive disciplines: with dance, that's what we were doing at the very beginning around a fire! Beyond musical prowess, it is certain that the attraction of magic is a beautiful open door to the neophyte family audience, but always with the angle to discovering something else: a piece by Philip Glass on the vibraphone, for example, or lesser-known instruments like the glass organ. Because of our aesthetic, we play the classic card, but it was a roundabout way of going towards the contemporary, both in the magic and in the music. Our in-house statistics (count on sample photographs) tell us about an approximate distribution of 60% of seniors, 15% of active adults and 25% of less than 18 years.

And the language barrier?


In order to be understood in housing complexes with a strong allophone tendency, we have chosen to advocate a silent approach. We called on the fantastic Jesse Dryden who teaches clown arts at the National Circus School to concoct a staging that is at the same time physical, compact and dynamic, but while remaining in the poetic, soft and slow , capable of capturing attention, of allowing remote interactivity. It was essential above all to keep the casual aspect of the performance in order to remain accessible to the very young and the elderly, but above all to make it a unifying moment that transcends cultures.


And why the homes of the Office municipal d'habitation de Montréal in particular?


You have to put yourself in the context: at the start of the summer 2020, finding your audience was for all artists a major reflection (it still is!) The Office municipale d'habitation de Montréal (OMHM), it is hundreds of living environments, most of them with huge amazing enclosed courtyards and I have been thinking for a long time about a performance project that could enhance these places. These are very often beautiful and inspiring private gardens that were perfect for the exercise. And as the accommodation surrounds the land, those who had to stay confined could enjoy the spectacle from their balcony: the youngest sat directly on the grass, the older ones took out their chairs; we had the best of both worlds. In addition, the security of these spaces is ensured by an impressive delegation of security guards, a non-police team which, in a context of hyper-health surveillance, was fully involved in the light logistics of our project.


We already know that social housing is a major backbone of Montreal's social development and I believe that the simple fact of supporting and encouraging a certain participation of tenants in this period of crisis helped to send a simple and subtle message that no one 'is left for against, while being a great opportunity to contribute in our own way to reducing prejudices and stereotypes. Because, it is certain that, even more than the residents themselves, the passers-by of the neighborhood who stopped to attend, curious, snatches of the show-concert were the most surprised to see who were the real privileged, I want say, in this context where no one could go out to go and attend live performances in person. It's powerful. Phones held up, smiles on their lips, I have certainly often seen during our trip traces of a kind of positive feeling of belonging, of pride, I don't know, this sudden feeling of being pampered, which will know I imagine making his way, slowly. And because we are not the OSM or other star, I have always seen this astonishment during my conversations with the speakers after the performances, and this gratitude at the same time, for having had such a chance to host a quality project directly in their community. We feel the value that this completely free gesture adds to “their people” and to their work of community synergy.


Art from the extreme proximity: attendance and demography


Without a festival or cultural center, it was clear at the start of the summer that there would be very little in the performing arts for families in the city, and even less for clients from disadvantaged sectors. Imbued with all these reflections on the “15-minute city”, I wanted this project to offer local performing arts where there would not necessarily have been any. Even more important for me was to move beyond the stage of exclusive promotional elitist performance and to offer as many performances as possible; everyone around us has been extremely generous in setting up this project and it was our way of giving back. In the end, it is: 9 districts that we visited; 22 dissemination partner organizations; 25 performances that we offered to the community. By adding the figures of the various organizers and by relying on the clichés of the events to make the count, we conclude to have presented directly in front of approximately 650 people. And by including unofficial curious spectators on the outskirts or behind their windows, a little less than 1000 spectators will have been able to attend our show-concert in person.


Art as a tool of the community

Our methodology, very intuitive and untested (like a lot of other things these days), has been a kind of brief laboratory to understand these little used and very little visited places that are social housing. It was clear from the start of our approaches that we were going to put ourselves at the service of non-cultural initiatives larger than ourselves, with those who already have a very detailed knowledge of their neighborhood. We have benefited from the collaboration of the OHMH itself, community organizers, residents' associations, but especially organizations in situ in the buildings of the Office (Maison des jeunes l'Axe, Collective Kitchens in all steam, Youth In Motion) or unifying organization (consultation table, ...) better placed than anyone for community work.

We sought to be simple catalysts by grafting ourselves onto existing events or, Covid obliges, normally existing ones. First, a question of remaining a surprise, to avoid a gathering, yes, but to offer art as a gift to those who dare to travel and participate above all, to underline once again to residents and stakeholders of the neighborhoods how art is a ideal meshing tool. Especially these months, when success is only measured by dozens of people or is done by telephone, it is obvious that without the contribution of external partners like us these various organizers would not necessarily have had the pretext or the same power of attraction to bring these people together. To highlight as an example, the case of Habitations Augustin-Cantin in Pointe-Saint-Charles, which was an opportunity to help bring Charles-Étienne Filion and Danielle Lacroix together, community organizers for the OMHM and Action Gardien, one of our important bridges with the organization, with these dwellings where there is no tenant association or community group in situ. We do our job, they do theirs. And even if it is both monk and blue collar work because of what it requires physically and logistically, I believe that the presence of artistic performances directly on the HLM grounds opens up accessibility to the cultural, especially for families and seniors who would not participate if they were outside their immediate surroundings. At times, because the city was almost completely paralyzed and getting these people out, even on their balconies, was a feat, at times I felt like a traveling culture house with shorter tentacles. Considering above all that it was the operation of a single person for booking and logistics. A kind of time travel, I often thought on the road of Paul Buissonneau and the Théâtre de la Roulotte: the OMHM has emphasized several times in the past how a cultural presence, especially direct interventions, could really make a difference. in the lives of tenants and positively influence the synergy of a neighborhood area.

 


In THEIR garden


Our project was not aimed at cultural mediation, but traveling in the community will certainly have been the occasion for superb meetings to share about our respective disciplines and ofer listening: it's as if we entered people's homes, we brought art right in their garden. In the light of our experience, it is clear that being IN people's homes, offering an artistic proposal directly in their backyard, gives an extraordinary impact to these interventions. We pique the curiosity of young talents to come, as always, we break down prejudices and stereotypes, above all. We met people who grew up in Pakistan, Russia before settling here. We were offered an excellent hot fresh borscht and tea: it was like traveling in our own city, for them as well as us. Or to surprise the children on their return from school, a show in THEIR courtyard. On two occasions, we presented the show for living environments for young adults living with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder: the appreciation was more than palpable. And one of the great exceptions in our concept calendar was this “dinner-show” at Resto-Plateau, a truly brilliant soup kitchen located on the site of the Monastery of the Blessed Sacrament, right next to Station Mont-Royal. : several exceptionally moving and surprising comments from a few hardened old motorcyclists or workers at the Metro station site who had taken advantage of their lunch hour which is of great value to us. And this group from the Axis youth center, which is located in the same Habitations Séguin in Pointe-Aux-Trembles, had set up a stage for holding shows. Due to the tropical storm weather that day, we chose to set up our show directly on their sheltered patio a few feet away. No pun intended, magic.

 

booking

Marc-Alexandre Brûlé

direction artistique &

relations avec les diffuseurs

Tél : 514-531-8094 

info@marcalexandrebrule.com