René Charbonneau has been a theatre buff since he was a young boy. Prior to launching his career in the performing arts, he studied management, taught French as a second language, and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Arts from the University of Ottawa.
In 1979, René Charbonneau went to Upton, Quebec to become cofounder of Le Théâtre de la Dame de Cœur (TDC), a centre for research, creation, production and education, specializing in shows featuring oversized sets and gigantic marionettes. At TDC he acted in turn as Production Director, Set Designer, Co-scriptwriter and Director, working on 30-odd shows and artistic projects. Since 1983 he has also acted as Director of TDC’s Research, Design and Production Workshops.
His talents as a scriptwriter and puppetry designer have taken him abroad, notably in Singapore with the opening ceremonies of Esplanade—Theaters on the Bay in 2002 and in Japan with Expo 2005. He was called in to Paris and Los Angeles in 2004 and 2005 by The Walt Disney Company to act as a consultant.
René Charbonneau has also taken on creative assignments outside TDC, including as Production Director of Montreal’s 350th anniversary parade in 1992.
For René, a puppet is greater than the sum of its parts. Through their design and structure, marionettes transcend the materials from which they are made”, he explains. “For the magic to work, the puppeteer must be able to make the object his own and to surrender himself to it completely. The puppeteer’s ability to breathe life into the object and complete the metamorphosis blows me away each time.”
Wintuk is the first time René has worked with Cirque du Soleil. He directed the design and development of the puppet’s armature and mechanics. “I’m particularly proud of the ice giants,” he says. “I like the energy and stage presence of these huge albeit light creatures made of aluminium and cloth.”