Writer, actor and director Gilles Maheu, one of the leaders of theatrical creation in Canada, is renowned for the originality of his works, which combine text, dance, music and film.
Over the last 30 years, Gilles Maheu has led the theatre company Carbone 14, whose works have been presented in more than 30 countries and won some 40 awards at home and abroad.
His staging of Notre-Dame de Paris won the 1998 Victoire award for best production of the year in Paris and the Félix for best musical and best director in Montreal. This work been seen around the world, attracting an audience of more than seven million in 12 countries, including China, South Korea and Taiwan. In 2004, his staging of Don Juan, which was also a resounding success in Montreal, Paris and Seoul, earned him Félix awards for best show and best direction.
Gilles Maheu is the cofounder of the Montreal theatre companies Espace Libre and Usine C. He earned many accolades for his work in these research and creation spaces, including the Governor General of Canada’s Award for the Performing Arts in 1992 and the Grand Prix du Conseil des Arts de Montréal in 1995.
The international success of Gilles Maheu was reconfirmed when the Songlei Media Communications company of Beijing hired him in 2006 to direct the first private Chinese opera, entitled Butterflies.
Gilles Maheu played the lead in the Jean-Claude Lauzon film Un Zoo La Nuit in 1988. This memorable performance led to his being a finalist for the Genie award for best actor (Toronto).
Although this is the first time Gilles has worked for Cirque du Soleil, he has known Cirque founder Guy Laliberté for more than 30 years. “We did street theatre together before Cirque existed,” he says.
"This is an interesting period to work with Cirque du Soleil,” he adds. “The company is diversifying and exploring new forms of artistic expression. We share many characteristics and speak the same language – not a language focused on text, but physical and acrobatic body language. ZAIA is the result of the meeting between my poetic and visual writing and the acrobatic magic of Cirque du Soleil."
Gilles Maheu was born in Montreal.