[Entrevue] “Showtime. A big play”: The Bocal Project facing the big stage

Since 2013, the Bocal Project has established its unique niche through its irresistible quirky humor and originality. After bringing all its projects into the world in the cocoon of La Petite Licorne, the company founded by Raphaëlle Lalande, Sonia Cordeau and Simon Lacroix is ​​radically changing its environment for its new opus. Invited to do a writing residency at Duceppe, the inventive trio find themselves in the fifty-year-old establishment to create show time. A big play.

“It wouldn’t even have crossed our minds,” says Simon Lacroix. We said yes right away and afterwards we went: “Ah hash, what did we do there?” To deliver, in front of an audience that doesn’t necessarily know their style, a production where everything is bigger, from the vast stage to the means through distribution, that’s not nothing. “We didn’t want to distort ourselves when we arrived on a large set,” explains Raphaëlle Lalande. There was this [préoccupation] watermark throughout the writing and our reflections on this show. »

The writing was also “rather difficult” at the beginning. Especially since at the suggestion of the artistic directors of Duceppe (Jean-Simon Traversy and David Laurin), the creators first tried to compose a continuous story, rather than a series of paintings. After increasingly fragmented pieces, which formed a sort of formal trilogy (The Jar project, Oh Lord and The show), they thought they might be there. “But we didn’t take it the right way, reports Sonia Cordeau. It was very outside of us. “It’s our essence as artists that expresses itself in an exploded way, resumes Lacroix. It seems like when we were trying to write a story, it felt a bit like summer theater. Without the “confusing effect” that marks their universe. Strengthened by the freedom granted by Traversy and Laurin, the trio has therefore returned to its nature: playing with the codes of the theater, derision, in a comedy where they take malicious pleasure in outwitting the spectators.

And they used their questions, the pressure they really felt in front of this creation to transpose it into their work, setting up a mise en abyme. In show time, three characters bearing their name must go on stage to improvise a show. But inspiration not being there, Simon, Raphaëlle and Sonia opt for a show on a large scale. Without revealing too much, in order to preserve the surprise, the creation played by ten performers transports us to several universes, through parodies of various theatrical genres.

“Even if we visit several forms, in the end, we still managed to tell a story that evolves from point A to point B, believes Raphaëlle Lalande. And until now, we are very proud of this show, because we managed to stay the Bocal Project. “While reinventing herself a bit, adds her co-creator, who considers this piece to be “even more accessible, because we are less in the absurd or the strange”.


show time mocks, affectionately, the theater itself, exposing the excesses of various forms. “We also silly certain staging choices, which are more flashy than serving the play,” says Sonia Cordeau. And sometimes, we find that the budget is awfully spent in the theater. ” Examples ? A car on stage, a huge chandelier of crystals descending… “Could that money have been [utilisé] on more creative time? It concerns me, the way we mount the shows and of which the seasons are made. “It’s paradoxical because it’s expensive, our show, intervenes his colleague. We didn’t skimp on the effects. The technicians are a bit stressed…”

But this satirical dimension does not come “from a desire to stir up the environment”, resumes Lacroix. “We have all been sometimes in rooms where we felt less well. So it’s an outlet. It’s always been a bit like this, the Bocal Project: we laugh at things that annoy us, when we go to see or play a play. “” We do not point to people in particular and it’s good child, ensures Cordeau. We don’t want to claim anything. Just give people the taste of being a little more relaxed, free, by being free ourselves on stage. »

And because they are invited to Duceppe, the institution is, of course, particularly targeted. Winks that would make the company team laugh a lot. In particular, we will be able to see a parody of American realist theatre. The trio was inspired by elements gleaned from trailers for old plays and images of scenographies from the past 20 years (one would be surprised at the number of large wooden stairs…). It is especially the “old” Duceppe, therefore, who is mocked, but also a little the new direction taken by the theater, with its “great themes which make you think”. Even if it turns out to be a little harder to mock a theater that presents “good relevant plays. Fooling the environment is more difficult,” says the man who starred there last year in Oil

Speaking of themes, if that’s not the heart of the piece, show time also reflects on entertainment. The Bocal Project has never obtained subsidies for its creations, recalls Raphaëlle Lalande. And for Oh Lord, the refusal was motivated, in particular, because “we were going to offer more entertainment than art. And that really pissed us off (laughter). We’ve been thinking about it ever since.” For the trio, one does not exclude the other. Although very entertaining, their creations have an artistic significance, they judge. Conversely, in his pastiches, show time mocks the vacuity of certain pointed proposals, which may “have the gloss of art, but not necessarily substance”, as Lacroix puts it.

It also evokes the pressure to present a show absolutely, even if the ideas are lacking. “And at what price do we want to entertain the public, what principles are we ready to deny? adds Lalande. Sonia Cordeau draws a parallel, on a small scale, with our common desire to publish a quantity of stories on social networks. Our own compulsion to fill the void.


The three artists, who met at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, developed an obvious bond. For show time, written according to their habit with six hands, they exchanged the texts even more, so that they fit together well, and to preserve the appearance of a single signature. So much so that creators can sometimes no longer recognize who wrote what. “We are like a three-headed bug,” summarizes Sonia Cordeau. For his friend, their unity is especially palpable in the staging. “It’s so weird, with the amount of decisions you have to make when directing. Every time the girls say something, I add: yes, absolutely. »

This is an aspect that worried them at the start: orchestrating a show with seven performers in addition to them (Éric Bernier, Jean-Marc Dalphond, Natacha Filiatrault, Dominique Leduc, Étienne Lou, Alexia Martel, Olivier Rousseau). “We had never done that, directing other actors to say our words, explains Raphaëlle Lalande. But ultimately, there is a cohesion, and really a style. We see the same things in our heads. And it’s very pleasant to work with other people. I find that they add to our universe. »

If the Bocal Project has not made any show only three since The showin 2016, the friends meanwhile shared the stage in plays written by others, Perplexed and Fairfly. Their collective holds a crucial place for these artists and they do not want to stay long without collaborating. “I think it will always be the place in my job where I have the most pleasure,” says Raphaëlle Lalande. With them. We have so much freedom. »

If they don’t know which direction the company will take, they have no trouble imagining themselves returning to La Petite Licorne to play as a trio. “But maybe in show time, we visit certain theatrical forms that make us want to go towards something else…” evokes Lalande mysteriously, provoking the hilarity of his companions. The unexpected remains their trademark.

Showtime. A big play

Text and direction: Le Projet Bocal. At the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, from November 16 to December 17.

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