Podcast Just between you and me | Under the mask of Robert Lepage, wrestling fan

In Just between you and me, journalist Dominic Tardif boasts a great luxury, that of time. Always somewhere between laughter and emotion, between rich reflection and wild anecdotes, these interviews are opportunities allowing media and cultural personalities to follow through on their thoughts.

We’ve known he’s a wrestling fan for several years, but nonetheless: Robert Lepage, who discusses the psychology of a wrestler with an acrobat, asking him “Would a real wrestler act like that?” ”, it amuses as much as it surprises. Before recording an episode of the podcast series Just between you and mewe spent the day in Quebec in the company of someone who takes himself much less seriously than we imagine.

We are in a storage room at the Musée de la civilization de Québec and Robert Lepage is crouching in front of André the Giant trying to identify the optimal position in which to place the immense espadrilles under the equally immense cream pants of the late wrestler. Robert Lepage is obviously not quite in front of André the Giant, but in front of a model – immense! – on which hangs one of his suits, loaned by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

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Have you watched a lot of wrestling matches over the past few months, Robert? ” Too much. We watched too much, huh, Steve? », replies the director, sending a knowing wink to his right-hand man, Steve Blanchet, creative director at Ex Machina.


Robert Lepage interviewed in his office

The company has been working on the exhibition for over a year Struggle. Quebec in the arenawhich will be released on March 20, a project for which they will both have become experts in the field – enough in any case for the author of these lines, a disciple of the muscular heroes of the mattress since he was 4 years old, be blown away by their knowledge.

Find the kisbets

But for now, after having finished with the shoes of the Ferré Giant, Robert Lepage, Steve Blanchet and the executive producer of Ex Machina Nadine Bellefeuille are somewhere in the mazes of the museum, trying to find a way to put the hand on kisbets, these pants suitable for wrestling in Turkish oil. The object, which should be part of the portion of the exhibition focusing on struggles around the world, is still missing.

Do without it? No way ! Robert Lepage doesn’t give up and searches his mental rolodex, looking for someone, somewhere in the world, who could bring the essential piece of clothing back to Quebec.

Does he enjoy pushing his colleagues to their limits? “Yes, a little, but not because I’m sadistic,” he replies with a laugh, in his bright office at Le Diamant overlooking Place D’Youville, in which you will see figures of struggle and Star Treka laminate of the first Genesis show in Quebec on April 6, 1973 (a show he attended), as well as a bust of Shakespeare in which is hidden a button activating a scale model of Batman’s Batcave, of which he will give us a demonstration with the innocent joy of a kid at Christmas.

When young people start with us, they give their 200%, yes, but they don’t always understand right away that when we say in a meeting “Oh yeah, that doesn’t work,” that means we’re starting all over again. to zero the next day.

Robert Lepage

The tragedy and the ridiculous

It was in his gym, in Loretteville, that Robert Lepage accepted an invitation from wrestler Mark Estrada to come attend an NSPW gala. The man of the theater admits it with a candor that no one suspected in him: he had ideas as to the ideas that these big guys could have about him.

One evening at the Horizon Center and it was settled: Robert Lepage would quickly understand that he had deprived himself of a pleasure as irresistible as it was kitsch for too long. Marko Estrada is today a friend and consultant for SLAM!the show inspired by the world of wrestling that he staged for the circus company Flip Fabrique.

Since its opening in 2019, the Diamant has also presented wrestling galas before which a pianist in a tailcoat plays Metallica and Black Sabbath on the Louis XV-style Steinway, covered in gold leaf, which sits enthroned in the hall.


Robert Lepage

Several of the apparent contradictions that Robert Lepage embodies seem contained, and resolved, in this image of a pianist who plays metal: that of a demanding creator, of international reputation, but whose father was an almost illiterate taxi driver, and who desires nothing more than to be faithful to the past of the place where the Diamond is erected, the Montcalm market, where rich and poor came to do their shopping.

In the struggle there is all the tragedy of existence, magnified by the contorted faces of men and women with dripping torsos, but also the ridiculousness of this same existence, two elements which constantly collide in the work of Robert Lepage. And yet, this image of a stiff intellectual sticks to him, which perhaps explains why people are startled when, on set, his long-time friend Guylaine Tremblay calls him Bob and he calls her in return Guylou.

A funny guy

His interest in wrestling is sincere, without a doubt, but if this improbable alliance could help deconstruct this false reputation, he would not complain. “People always think that I’m a very serious person, but I’m a very funny guy, I’m even capable of being vulgar,” assures the man who still played in Ding and Dong, the movie. During one of their first meetings, an archivist from the Musée de la civilization recited to him by heart the monologue he delivers in this classic of Quebec cinema. Much to Robert’s delight.

I have often been offered to participate in well-cooked events, and at first I said no, but I ended up accepting, because there is a whole side of my personality expressed there. People are surprised: “I didn’t think you could do jokes.”

Robert Lepage

Lepage’s fascination with wrestling is also his past as a star player in the LNI, a sport in which, to score points, you absolutely have to play with your opponent, and not against.

“The struggle,” he observes, “is based on an enormous paradox: you have to appear to be the strongest, the most intelligent, the most gifted, the most talented, but at the same time, if you just make yourself putting yourself forward doesn’t work. You have to help the other to shine. » What if there was something like a life lesson here?

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Three quotes from our interview

About the predetermined aspect of the struggle

“We make the wishful thinking of saying: “Look, you pretend that it’s true and I pretend that I believe you.” And that’s the beginning of theater! We know very well that Marie Tifo is not Maria Chapdelaine, but we accept it, as long as she convinces us of it. It’s an exchange of credibility, it’s a two-person game. »

About the links between wrestling and the circus

“I started to get re-interested in circus because I found the same energy there as there was in wrestling before. The very first Cirque shows [du Soleil], that was it: there was athleticism, acrobatics, risks, magnificent bodies. I have the impression that in Quebec, for a while, the departure from the struggle was filled by the new circus. »

On what a good wrestling match is

“A good wrestling match is when you feel that there are issues that go beyond what is happening in the room. The referee must be really good, because the referee represents justice, and he must show that justice is often sold. […] The public doesn’t just see wrestlers hitting each other, they see injustices, people cheating, honest, pretentious people. That’s what people respond to. One of the most important characters is the audience. »

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