|Photo credit Marjorie Guindon|
Today I have the great pleasure of hosting a great friend of mine, Marc-André Charron. We know each other pretty much from birth and our parents knew each other even before that. Well for as long as I can remember, Marc-André has always written. Well, maybe not always, but before he could write, he was the best at making up stories for our games!
The giveaway information will follow the interview
Tell us a bit more about you and about what you do.
I’m a freelance actor/writer/director, mostly for the theatre world. My work touches on - but isn’t restricted to - the written word. What I mean by that is that theatre being a visual and sensual medium, I also write through images and bodies. I think they’re undistinguishable in my form of art. For many practitioners today, theatre now exceeds straight writing.
For as long as I've known you, you've always loved writing. Did you always know you wanted to do this for a living?
I always knew I wanted to tell stories. Exactly how that was going to happen, I didn’t quite guess early on. Writing was a way telling stories, of flying away, of imagining other worlds and so on. I thought I was a writer, then I learned to be a theatre artist and actor, I did that for a while; yet writing always comes back to me like a friend I love and want to punch in the head.
Painter Chuck Close Once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just shows up and gets to work." How do you "get to work?" Do you have any ritual or specific requirements to get the juices flowing?
Like most people my age who write, I seldom get paid to do so. So I have to work hard to put the time and money aside so I can get a good chunk of writing done. If I knew how to write an hour a day and keep moving ahead, I’d love that, but I’m not wired that way. I really need a whole day, preferably more than one in a row. But other than that, no. I just get up, have a light breakfast, pour a cup of coffee and get rolling. I guess, since I take long pauses between writing sessions, I’m just anxious to get back at it.
My girlfriend’s family own an amazing country house near Magog, that has this beautiful, long wooden table where you can sit and work. I set the dictionaries and other tools around me - drawings, other people’s writing, pictures, music - and dive in. I feel like I spend too much time on the internet, so I absolutely avoid it when working creatively. I like looking out at the birds and the trees, they make for good distractions when you’re stuck with a character or a scene. I also appreciate having something to do with my hands to shake up the cobwebs. I often have a woodworking project close by when writing, especially first drafts.
Also, my creative process is split between solo work and group development. I mostly write for plays where I know the actors and spend time creating parts of the show with them. So I’m not blind going in, I often have a good idea where things are going, or at least I can fall back on what’s been going on in the rehearsal room. But I also let myself be free of that and let new things spring to life as I go. Then it’s back at rehearsal to see if it all makes sense with the group. The process edits itself, until hopefully it all works.
What are you working on at the moment? Do you have a play coming up on stage soon?
I’m working on a very free adaptation of the Three Musketeers by Dumas called Les Trois Mousquetaires, Plomberie - which rightly translates to Three Musketeers, Plumbing. It’s a great project, full of magical realism and rule bending. Lots of fun. It’ll be coming out next year, in the 2014-2015 season. I’m also directing it, so I’m very excited.
What is your definition of a writer? What does it take to be one?
I like to think they are simply storytellers. If it’s a good storyteller, we’ll listen like we’re children. And to be a good storyteller, you need empathy and curiosity. And also to work like hell.
Turlough Myers, swing dance instructor at Cat's Corner and our previous guest, left you the following question:
"I have a question for Marc-Andre! Many people tend to view theatre as a relatively open art form where just about anything is possible within the medium. With constant new expression and new ideas involved, how important (if at all) is the preservation of “old fashioned” ideas in theatre and what place does “old fashioned” style theatre art have in our contemporary world?"
That’s a great question, I love it. I think we need to know about old fashion ideas, or else we actually don’t come up with new ones at all. If we don’t know what came before us, we may think we’re doing something radical, and then produce something that it simply in fashion. In art, I believe fashion is the opposite of innovation, because innovation is a profound thing, an immersed thing, that evolves out of what precedes it. Much of slapstick cartoon humour (of the likes of the Loony Toons of our childhood takes, for example) take root in commedia dell’art. Well if you don’t know that and want to be inspired by cartoons to make something theatrical, you’ll fumble around reinventing the wheel before realizing there’s actually something right there that exists that could help you on your quest. You can’t pretend to be inventing anything of you don’t know what’s been done. Should we be producing Shakespeare for ever? I don’t know, but we can’t ignore what it’s been and the place it held. If you want to write something as profound as the Odyssey, you might want to learn about it first.
Our next guest is a nutritionist who left the corporate world to establish his own practice. What would you like to ask him?
What is the scariest part of leaving a grounded, sure world and jumping into your own adventure. And how did you overcome that?
Marc-André is the author of La Descente de Jack Lebeau, Bonsai Maple Syrup, DIG, Mouving, Bouffe, «T» and Les Trois Mousquetaires, Plomberie. You can learn more about him at www.satellitetheatre.ca