Montréal, Monday, May 15, 2023 — The Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM) and Théâtre ESPACE GO, in collaboration with members of the Award Development Committee, are pleased to unveil the winner of the fourth edition of the Jovette-Marchessault Award,* which this year recognizes women directors: Alexia Bürger. This award, which recognizes and showcases the contributions of women to Montréal’s theatre scene, comes with a $20,000 grant to be awarded by the Conseil to the winner.
As a partner of ESPACE GO, Air Transat will give each of the two finalists, Mélanie Demers and Marie-Eve Huot, round trip airfare to France.
WINNER: ALEXIA BÜRGER
“This award is great motivation to keep working with as much candour, freedom and perseverance as I can. It is also a wonderful daily reminder—especially on the flatter days—that I can draw on the strength of past, present and future women directors for inspiration”
– Alexia Bürger
Alexia Bürger graduated from the Option-théâtre at Collège Lionel-Groulx in 2022. An actor, playwright and director, she is the complete theatre artist. She boasts an impressive resume, having directed over a dozen works as well as writing and providing dramaturgical support on numerous scripts. Many of the shows she has created have left an indelible mark in our memories, making her a landmark figure in our cultural landscape.
Bürger has supported and nurtured the development of several new Quebec scripts, both in her capacity as assistant to the artistic direction of the Centre du Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui (CTD’A) from 2006 to 2014, and as an associate artist within the same institution until 2018. During this period, the creator forged her own path, developing her own theatrical style.
A natural collaborator and builder of fertile artistic partnerships, Bürger’s first foray as a director was alongside writer Olivier Choinière. These works include POLYGLOTTE, starring non-actors, and the amazing choral show CHANTE AVEC MOI, winner of the 2010 Prix de la production de l’année-Montréal (Production of the Year, Montréal) from the Association québécoise des critiques de théâtre (AQCT). She then teamed up with Emmanuel Schwartz to create ALFRED, which she directed at the Jean-Claude-Germain room in 2014.
However, it was with her own powerful creation LES HARDINGS, performed at the CTD’A in 2018, that her unique talent truly emerged. This highly coherent, intelligent work delves into the national tragedy of the railway derailment in Lac-Mégantic with considerable tact and creative originality. Bürger intertwines the intimate with the collective, combining raw emotion with the dissection of political and economic mechanisms through the lens of responsibility. This piece won two major awards, the 2017–2018 CTD’A Prix auteur dramatique (Playwright Award) and the 2018 AQCT Meilleur texte-Montréal (Best Dramatic Text, Montréal). In the following years, it was performed at the Bordée in Québec City and at Théâtre Jean-Duceppe, before going on to tour the province. It has been translated into English, German and Spanish, and was adapted into a teleplay that aired on Télé-Québec in February 2021.
With LES HARDINGS, the creator perfected her personal, distinctive fictional theatre approach—in this case, rooted in reality—with a script enriched by her collaborating actors and extensive research in fields including philosophy and science. Bürger then continued this dialogue between reality and fiction, between the personal and universal teachings of these fields of expertise in the play J’AI CRU VOUS VOIR, an adaptation of the love letters between painter Paul-Émile Borduas and Rachel Laforest. Created in the spring of 2021 at Théâtre ESPACE GO, this work also drew on the writings of Plato, Anne Dufourmentelle and Jacques Derrida to dig deeper into the psychological and philosophical ramifications of the feeling of love.
In recent years, Bürger has directed numerous Quebec theatre shows with her trademark humanity and focus on performers, visual composition and spatial awareness to the fore. She has been the trusted partner for a variety of works by female playwrights in which women take a central role, bringing these works to the stage with sensitivity and accuracy. She also lent her directorial talents to more intimate works such as 21 by Rachel Graton, performed in the Jean-Claude-Germain Room, and Annick Lefebvre’s LES BARBELÉS, performed at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous, as well as the vibrant choral work LES FILLES DU SAINT-LAURENT by Rébecca Déraspe (in collaboration with Lefebvre). These last two productions were first created in Paris’ Petit Théâtre de la Colline. In April 2022, Bürger directed TOUTES CHOSES by Fanny Britt at the Théâtre de Quat’Sous, where Bürger is associate artist. The two creators and close friends jointly won the Théâtre du Nouveau Monde’s Jean-Louis Roux creation grant for the writing of the play LYSIS, a feminist account of resistance and solidarity based on the Aristophane’s LYSISTRATA, which the public will finally be able to see in spring 2024.
As a director, playwright, or both, Bürger has been involved in an incredibly diverse range of artistic forms and living arts disciplines over the years. She says this flexibility has helped decompartmentalize her practice. Such collaborations include dance (PORCELAIN by Wynn Holmes), circus arts (AMORA for the Cirque du Soleil), installations (the staging of JE NE M’APPARTIENT PLUS at ESPACE GO, a walking experience designed jointly with Sophie Cadieux), and literary events (the stage reading of the fun Les Belles-Sœurs polyphoniques, organized by the Centre des auteurs dramatiques). Various musicians have also called on her talents. She directed Antoine Corriveau’s multidisciplinary show, Ce chose qui cognée dans la creux de son poitrine sans vouloir se arrêt (Usine C), which featured performances by Safia Nolin (Dans le noir) and Vincent Vallières (Tout beauté n’est pas perdue), which saw her selected as a finalist in the direction category at the 2022 ADISQ Gala.
She also worked as a playwright on Michel Rivard’s popular theatrical and musical creation, L’Origine de mes espèces, which received the awards for Best Writer and Best Show of the Year at the 2019 ADISQ Gala.
Bürger has been a visiting teacher and director at the National Theatre School of Canada since 2018, generously sharing her knowledge. This expertise is invaluable to the theatre community in which she occupies an essential place.
*Jovette-Marchessault Award Development Committee members: Nahka Bertrand, Micheline Chevrier, Margarita Herrera-Dominguez, Gabe Maharjan and Marie-Eve Milot
This award created by the Conseil des arts de Montréal was named for Jovette Marchessault as a tribute to a great “tuner of the soul,” whose body of work reflects her desire to bring women’s culture out of the shadows, to reshape History, and to forge a collective memory that allows women to be role models for any gender. The 2023–2024 edition of the Jovette-Marchessault Prize will be aimed at designers. The call for applications will begin in fall 2023.
ABOUT THE CONSEIL DES ARTS DE MONTRÉAL
Offering various forms of assistance, the Conseil des arts de Montréal identifies, supports and recognizes artistic innovation and creative expression in all their diversity to promote Montreal’s artists and arts organizations active in creation, production and presentation. Since 1956, the Conseil has played a unique role as a catalyst for this artistic ecosystem, helping make Montreal one of the world’s great cultural metropolises.
ABOUT THÉÂTRE ESPACE GO
Since its founding in 1979, Théâtre ESPACE GO has devoted itself to exploring women artists’ imaginations and pushing theatre practice boundaries. This mission gives it a unique position in North America with a reputation as a leader on the international scene. Through her artistic choices, Ginette Noiseux wows and astonishes audiences, constantly questioning how poets and artists can interpret the world.
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Théâtre ESPACE GO