“The willing suspension of disbelief”: I see, therefore I follow

If her solo show is to be believed, Émilie Perreault is part of this race of individuals, mythical in the eyes of some, who do not practice the profession of cultural journalist or critic out of spite, but out of fervor. In The willing suspension of disbeliefwhose title is borrowed from the concept developed in the 19the century to describe the choice that the public makes to believe in what is presented to them on stage, the host and author shares the faith she has in art, in its beneficial, even saving, faculties. Even more, it ennobles the status of spectator by focusing on their motivations, what they represent for artists as well as the content of the spectator experience.

Combining simplicity, candor and good-naturedness, the one who defines herself as not being an artist, but as a person who cannot live without art will go from autobiographical anecdotes to extracts from interviews to illustrate the origin and breadth of her appetite for culture. All with the right dose of humor and above all self-deprecation so that the result does not appear didactic, pompous or narcissistic, pitfalls skillfully avoided. In this, she is helped by the recorded voices of a few collaborators, including Marc Labrèche, who is responsible for explaining the theoretical notions mentioned in a playful tone.

The most singular part of this speech is certainly the one where Perreault dissects the act of watching a show, the “spectature”: the keen displeasure that one feels when one’s outing partner does not appreciate the artistic proposition at hand. which he was invited to, the irrepressible desire to share his enthusiasm following a performance, the providential well-being of abandoning himself to fiction when the lights go out above the stands.

Note also that those who have read Essential service And Do useful work might not have as stimulating an experience as the others, because a large part of the material constituting this theatrical production is extracted from it. For the author’s regular readers, since it is not an adaptation of a novel or a short story, but borrowings from works of theory and testimonies, the result is an impression of déjà vu, again.

Furthermore, if the stories devoted to demonstrating the extent to which a given work can particularly touch an individual undoubtedly preach mainly to the converted – gathered for this 5 to 7 in the wings of the Jean-Duceppe theater – we can only imagine how much The willing suspension of disbelief would reach its full scope if it were presented in schools and CEGEPs.

We will be grateful to the Canadian radio host, who benefited from the dramaturgical advice of Jean-Philippe Lehoux, for fully assuming her bias: she loves the arts and viscerally believes in their necessity. These convictions, free from cynicism and pretense, delivered in all immodesty, prove sweet to hear, even invigorating.

The choice of a refined staging (signed Charles Dauphinais), where the soloist sometimes seated and sometimes standing addresses her audience, both humble and luminous, seems to have flowed naturally. As the performance progresses, however, Perreault, more and more ostensibly, will fetch chairs and line them up in two rows on the playing area. The exercise, although somewhat tedious, undeniably has a metaphorical meaning. The journalist creates an audience on stage as she helps to do in life when she practices her profession, that is, by sharing the exaltation that culture sows within her.

The willing suspension of disbelief

Text and interpretation: Émilie Perreault. Director: Charles Dauphinais. Presented behind the scenes in the Jean-Duceppe room at Place des Arts until May 10.

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