The 33 Backbones of Imago's spineA Note from our Artistic and Executive Director Micheline Chevrier
1) The transformative power of poetry, art and beauty (see backbones 2-5)
2) Poetry in language:
My personal aesthetic privileges poetic language in a refined theatrical form, where container and content are tightly interwoven.
3) Poetry in form:
I consciously strive to create sophisticated universes that excite the ear as much as the eye, that trigger actors to move, designers to transcend the spatiality of the theatre box, and audiences to be visually and physically marvelled.
4) Expanded storytelling:
I am excited by the potential of diverse practices in expanding forms of storytelling such as: docudrama, verbatim theatre and adaptations of other literary forms such as graphic novels. I am interested in performances that challenge the actor/audience relationship and in pieces that bring together various kinds of performers – actors, musicians, circus performers – as well as plays that feature the audience as performer.
5) Transformative experiences:
I believe that an exploration of expanded forms of storytelling can be transformative, both for the artists, as it challenges and expands their practice, as well as the audience, since it offers a more surprising, layered, and fulfilling experience.
6) A feminist art practice (see backbones 7-13)
7) Challenges to the status quo:
Imago chooses plays that present different points of view and dissenting perspectives.
8) Women’s resistance:
Imago chooses plays that deal with women’s resistance to marginalization within social and cultural systems.
9) Women’s unsilencing:
Imago chooses plays that display women’s transition from silence to speech.
10) New ways of thinking about dramatic structures:
Imago explores nonlinear and cyclical dramatic structures that experiment with form and that always seek to presenting different points of view and dissenting perspectives.
11) New ways of thinking about womanhood:
Imago produces stories where women characters exist in non-traditional roles with characters who are non-ideal or non-conformist, unconventional, rebellious and inconvenient. We are interested in stories about women of all shapes, sizes, colors, and persuasions.
12) Stories that act as catalysts for conversation:
Imago’s plays act as catalysts for dialogue around class, race, privilege and other forms of oppression.
13) Stories that explore the complexity of the female experience:
Imago’s focused mission has not narrowed our choices but rather expanded our ability to present the complexity of the female perspective and experience. Our mission to be a hub for stories about unstoppable women has allowed artists working with Imago to explore the intersections of culture, gender, and society through art.
14) A political theatre (see backbones 14-22)
In my opinion theatre must be political.
15) Personal Theatre.
Theatre is political when it is personal. I am drawn to works where the artist’s beliefs and principals are clearly and creatively expressed.
16) Stories where all voices are heard
…in particular those of the marginalized, of the outcast, of the Other.
Theatre that avoids being idle chat.
18) Re-inventing creative process
19) Re-inventing theatre production
by de-crystallizing old production models
20) A de-centralized way of working
Theatre must be political in its structure,ensuring a non-hierarchical power distribution in which true democracy and fruitful collaborations are a daily practice. We must de-crystallize old production models and prioritize artistic freedom and accessibility by extracting theatre from the tyranny of ticket sales.
21) Critical thinking
Theatre that fosters critical thinking in all artists, from students through to established theatre makers.
22) Awakening curiosity
…through an appetite for the unexpected and the dangerous.
23) A popular theatre (see backbones 24-28)
I believe in a theatre that is not elitist, both in form and content.
24) A theatre that prioritizes equality
As an artistic director I choose timely, immediate and urgent stories that touch us all.
25) A theatre that prioritizes accessibility
I demand physical accessibility for all of our performance spaces and am committed to inclusion and equity for all audiences with our Pay-What-You-Decide policy.
I wish to demystify theatre and encourage discourse and exchange by engaging audiences through talk-backs with invited guest speakers, through digital communications and through outreach to Montreal schools and communities.
Imago has become a place for dialogue, for reflection, for creation; a place where community is as important as the individual. Through our work, we have connected with the larger community of Montreal and with organizations whose mandate aligns with the content of our plays: La rue des femmes, the Native Women’s Shelter of Montréal, LOVE (Leave Out Violence), among many others.
28) Leadership and local/international collaboration
Imago is a leader in the English language theatre community, fostering collaborations and connecting theatre artists to each other and to other companies. We have forged strong partnerships both here and elsewhere: locally with Black Theatre Workshop and Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal, among others; nationally with l’UniThéâtre (Edmonton), Playwrights Theatre Centre (Vancouver), and Nightwood (Toronto); and internationally with Stellar Quines (Scotland).
29) Artist driven work (see backbones 29-33)
Above all, Imago exists and thrives because of the artists who create here. Everyone who works at Imago is an artist and contributes to the growth of the company in various ways: creating the programming, strengthening our infrastructure, and reaching far and wide to the artistic and the broader Montreal communities.
30) Nurturing artists
I am intensely aware of the need to nurture all artists, especially those from Montreal with a special focus on women artists. I am focused on ensuring an exchange between emerging and established artists: from those still en formation, to young professionals through residencies, to established artists who are expanding their practice to other disciplines.
31) Visionary support
I believe in supporting the artist in any way we can, with whatever resources we have, remaining flexible enough to promptly respond to the needs of the artist while remaining visionary in our support and leadership.
I believe in theatre that values freedom for the artist: freedom to take risks, freedom to experiment and freedom to fail and learn.
In short, Imago Theatre is a brave, challenging and collaborative space; a space that seeks freedom from fear.