" We want, with the character of the grandmother, to make understand the importance of the transmission of the values through the generations. "
André Laliberté, artistic director
by Jean-Frédéric Messier
When Saskia was little, she would go camping in the woods with her cousins. Her grandmother, Nukum, would tell them stories of the raven. Nukum had known the raven ever since she was a child. The bird had once stolen some of her French fries and, later, even stole some fish. In return, he told her some of his most celebrated stories. And then one summer, the raven appeared in the form of someone whom Nukum had loved dearly.
Inspired by the figure of the raven, found in many First Nations legends, the play illustrates how culture is passed on and the spécial bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. It shows humans as part of the animal family and tells of their Relationship with an unseen world.
Corbeau / Raven premiered at Montréal’s Maison Théâtre in October 2012 following a creative residency at the Maison de la culture Villeray–St-Michel–Parc-Extension.
The pages of the book Corbeau, published in French at L’Instant même, present Jean-Frédéric Messier’s story and creative process, Richard Lacroix’s sketches, workshop and stage photographs, as well as the story of Théâtre de l’Œil’s first 40 years, as told by Michelle Chanonat.
Illustrations : Richard Lacroix
Translation by Denise Babin
" If, in Raven, Messier deals with transmission between generations and amongst ourselves, he does so not through explanation, but through “experience”. The very young will be captivated by the antics of a number of fowls–ducks, pigeons, a seagull and a hilarious chicken–but they will also effortlessly understand, unconsciously or even despite themselves, the notion of transmission and perpetuation, with the help of Messier’s simple yet efficient story line. As Saskia says at the very end, “as long as we have mouths, she (Nukum) will be alive.” As long as we talk about culture, language or values, we keep them alive and well. Is this not the intrinsic reason behind the existence of storytelling? […]
[…] The scenography is superbly sober. It consists of two small wooden platforms on which the puppets amble along, and a large screen in the background. The screen is essentially used as a canvas for the many–quite effective–light and shadow combinations that share the stage with all kinds of projections of cityscapes, skies and forests made of paper and cardboard that are manipulated in real time under a camera and a table lamp. "
David Lefebvre, Mon(Theatre).qc.ca, October 2012
[…] Nukum and the raven’s encounter is narrated by Saskia, Nukum’s granddaughter, who has listened to her grandmother’s stories. These were first told to Nukum by the raven: how he was born human and then turned into a bird, how he stole the sun ... As Saskia’s words are mirrored by puppets, Nukum suddenly appears as a child with the raven landing at her side shouting, “Fries! More Fries!” This is one of the play’s recurring themes, much to the children’s delight. […]
[…] this magnificent production will most certainly thrive for many years to come. Carried by Théâtre de l’Œil’s poetry and inventiveness, Corbeau is a moment of great beauty. "
Josée Lapointe, La Presse, Octobre 18, 2012
Michel Bélair, Le Devoir, Montreal, Octobre 19, 2012