The ABC’s of Imago
Andrés Hausmann creates Imago in 1987. The company then presents edgy works from the international repertoire.
While under Andrés’ tenure and throughout its history, Imago Theatre is proudly bilingual in its practice, producing plays in both English and French and favouring collaboration between anglophone and francophone artists.
In the first years of its existence, Imago calls upon some of Québec’s leading anglophone and francophone artists to develop inspiring collective creations informed by the artistry and intersection of both languages.
When Andrés leaves the company in 1996 to pursue other creative interests, the company faces difficulties with setbacks as it enters a period of struggle characterized by a decline in support from government funding.
In 2000, enter Clare Schapiro as the new Artistic Director of Imago Theatre.
Clare, formerly the founder and director of Montreal’s Créations Etc. and Theatre 1774, brings 20 years of experience to Imago Theatre. As Imago’s new Artistic Director, Clare programs plays whose stories are centered around women’s lived experiences, offering a foundation for Imago’s identity.
Over Clare’s tenure at Imago Theatre, she leads a project aimed at strengthening the Montreal English theatre community by sharing a physical space and resources with other independent theatre companies. This project evolves to become the Group of 5+, a visionary hub for 5 independent Montreal theatre companies including: Imago Theatre, Repercussion Theatre, Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal, Geordie Theatre and Talisman Theatre.
Under the direction of Clare Schapiro, Imago honours work by visionary Canadian and Quebecois playwrights such as Bryden MacDonald, Greg MacArthur, Carole Fréchette and many others.
Imago’s mandate evolves to celebrate an inclusive vision of Québec by bridging of gaps between French and English communities through producing anglophone playwrights like Michael Mackenzie (The Baroness and the Pig), Elyse Gasco (Bye Bye Baby, presented in both French and English) and Pierre-Michel Tremblay (Champ de Mars, presented in translation). In 2008, The Baroness and the Pig received the prix AQCT for the Best anglophone production of 2008.
In the 2011-2012 season, Imago journeys abroad, partnering with Scotland’s Stellar Quines Theatre Company, to commission and create ANA, co-written by Scottish writer Clare Duffy and québécois playwright Pierre Yves Lemieux, and directed by Serge Denoncourt.
Clare Schapiro’s programming expands to accommodate a director’s gym where emerging theatre practitioners can collaborate to expand their knowledge and artistic practice.
Under Clare’s leadership, the company restores the three Arts Councils’ confidence in Imago, gradually obtaining operational funding status from the federal, provincial and municipal councils.
In January 2011, Micheline Chevrier joins the team as Associate Director. In partnership with Clare, Micheline helps to reshape the mission of the company and builds a more solid infrastructure through the creation of new staff positions and increased private fundraising.
Micheline brings her vast experience as a director, artistic director, dramaturge and teacher. Her work at such theatres as the National Arts Centre, Alberta Theatre Projects, Globe Theatre, Manitoba Theatre Centre, Canadian Stage, Young People’s Theatre, Théâtre français de Toronto, Centaur Theatre, Segal Centre, Geordie Theatre, Theatre New Brunswick, and BeMe Productions (Barcelona and Munich), as well as her tenure as Artistic Director at Ottawa’s Great Canadian Theatre Company helps to broaden Imago’s reach and reputation as a company with national scope and artistic merit.
In July 2013, Micheline becomes Imago’s Artistic and Executive Director. Micheline further refines the mission of the company toward a focus on stories from the feminine perspective. Under Micheline’s leadership, Imago opens new doors, forging new relationships with local and national theatre companies, as well as creating meaningful partnerships with community organizations across Montreal.
Imago Theatre implements a Pay-What-You-Decide policy that democratizes access to the arts to make theatre available to everyone.
Guided by Micheline’s critical and visionary lens, Imago’s work questions the status quo and explores urgent social issues. The company’s plays begin to address topical subjects such as: systemic racism and teen violence (random), missing and murdered indigenous women (Pig Girl), violence against women and war (If We Were Birds, Have We Forgotten Yet?), and an exploration of narrow nationalism, prejudice and propaganda (Intractable Woman). Under her direction, Imago’s plays take on an inimitable, provocative and sharp aesthetic. The stories tackle questions about human nature, politics, power dynamics, and the treatment of women and marginalized groups in society.
Imago Theatre is committed to equal representation through their programming, their outreach, and their organizational structure. Imago wholeheartedly believes that art and community are enhanced and made stronger by a commitment to equity and inclusion.
Imago asserts itself as hub for emerging and established Montreal artists from a variety of disciplines by supporting artists at all stages of their development through mentorship opportunities and artistic residencies.
Imago Theatre hosts talkbacks after every performance to engage in meaningful exchange with audience members. The talkbacks also feature a guest speaker from the Montreal community, invited to offer a unique lens on the themes and subject matter of the play.
In 2016, Imago Theatre restructures its mission and manifesto to reflect its new artistic focus: Imago is a catalyst for conversation, an advocate for equal representation, and a hub for stories about unstoppable women.
Imago is a gathering place for artists in Montreal. Throughout its 30 years of existence, Imago’s work has received critical and popular acclaim. The company encourages confidence and creativity in its community, its staff, and all those who partner with the organization. Imago is vital and valued.
Imago is now committed to presenting work centered around unstoppable women through a feminist art practice.
As a company committed to equity and inclusion, Imago’s stories aim to combat xenophobia (the fear and distrust of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange) through storytelling that provokes discourse and encourages empathy and critical thinking. Imago Theatre creates daring, artistic and innovative work that acts as a catalyst for conversation by galvanizing audiences to engage in empathetic perspective-taking.
Imago creates ARTISTA, a youth mentorship program for women. ARTISTA builds and empowers a community of young women, and supports them toward the early stages of their careers, whatever those may be. Imago Theatre’s commitment to mentoring youth through ARTISTA, artistic residencies and community partnerships demonstrates a clear investment in the future of both the artistic and broader local communities.
Imago Theatre has zero tolerance for injustice, inequality and narrow-mindedness. This philosophy informs the company’s work, which is forward-thinking, politically engaged and ever-evolving.