Life is only the dream of a dream, it is somewhere else that we are awake”

-- Rainer Maria Rilke

Denis Marleau

1998 National Arts Centre Award

On the cutting edge of theatre in Quebec, Denis Marleau and Théâtre UBU have set as their mission the exploration of avant-guard themes which deliberately undermine our conception of art. Tackling difficult and obscure works from the contemporary repertoire, including Beckett and Tabucchi, to 18th-century German classical pieces by the likes of Lessing and Goethe, Marleau and his collaborative troupe deal with “the life and death impulses, these existential torments”. Dark and pessimistic though it sounds, the work is often marked by playfulness and humour. “the tragic does not exclude the absurd and the absurd is always funny”.

Described as “one of the artists in Quebec most conscious of the corruption of art,” Marleau’s quest has been to strip away all illusion and show me how to live honestly and truthfully in a corrupt world. Unlike Michel Tremblay, in whose work people recognize themselves, he has consciously sought unknown, invented perceptions which find their sources in the traces of the past. In a society where “illusion is king”, his uncompromising view of reality has been called a “precious gift”.

UBU’s creations have resonated with European audiences. Yet Marleau is rooted in Montreal and aims for theatrical research centre which will continue to explore these universal themes.