The multidisciplinary artist Robert Lepage is equally talented as a theatre director, playwright, actor and film director. Lauded by critics the world over, his modern and unusual work transcends all boundaries between disciplines.
In 1975, Lepage entered the Conservatoire d'art dramatique de Québec and, following a study period in France, he took part in several productions in which he combined the roles of actor, writer and director. In 1985, he created The Dragons' Trilogy, a show that earned him international recognition. He followed this with Vinci (1986), Polygraph (1987), Tectonic Plates (1988), Needles and Opium (1991). With A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1992, he became the first North American to direct a Shakespeare play at the Royal National Theatre in London.
From 1989 to 1993 Lepage was Artistic Director of the Théâtre français at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In 1994 he founded his own company Ex Machina and directed The Seven Streams of the River Ota (1994), Le Songe d’une nuit d’été (1995) and a solo production, Elsinore (1995).
Also in 1994, Robert Lepage made his début in the world of cinema. He wrote and directed his first feature film, Le Confessional, which was screened the following year at the Cannes Festival Directors’ Fortnight. He went on to direct Polygraph in 1996, Nô in 1997, Possible Worlds in 2000 (his first feature film written in English), and finally, in 2003, a film adaptation of his play The Far Side of the Moon.
La Caserne, a multidisciplinary production centre in Quebec City, opened in 1997 under Robert Lepage’s leadership. There, he created and produced Geometry of Miracles (1998), Zulu Time (1999), The Far Side of The Moon (2000), a new version of The Dragons’ Trilogy with a new cast (2003) and The Busker’s Opera (2004). This was followed by The Andersen Project (2005), Lipsynch (2007), The Blue Dragon (2008) and Eonnagata (2009).
Lepage made a grand entrance in the opera world when he staged the successful double bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung (1993). He followed this with La Damnation de Faust presented for the first time in the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, Japan (1999), 1984 in London (2005), The Rake’s Progress in Brussels (2007) and The Nightingale and Other Short Fables in Toronto (2009).
Robert Lepage created and directed Peter Gabriel’s Secret World Tour (1993) and his Growing Up Tour (2002). As part of the festivities surrounding the 400th anniversary of Quebec City in 2008, he created Le Moulin à imagesTM – the largest architectural projection ever produced – on the walls of the Bunge, a massive grain silo. In 2009 he and his Ex Machina team created Aurora Borealis, a permanent light show for the structure, inspired by the colours of the northern lights.
Winner of many prestigious awards, in 2009 Lepage received the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for his outstanding contribution to Canada’s cultural life throughout his career.
TOTEM is Robert Lepage’s second Cirque du Soleil show following KÀ (2004). "Inspired by the foundation narratives of the first peoples, TOTEM explores the birth and evolution of the world, the relentless curiosity of human beings and their constant desire to excel,” he says. “The word totem suggests that human beings carry in their bodies the full potential of all living species, even the Thunderbird’s desire to fly to the top of the totem.”
Robert Lepage was born in Quebec City in 1957.