“We are told that art is universal, but it is not. It’s built on the canon of the male artist,” visual artist Judy Cohen, aka Judy Chicago, once said. “I never believed that feminist art should be only for women. After all, haven’t we spent centuries looking at the work of men? »
Touch. This is one of the many statements from this significant figure in the visual arts in the United States in the 1970s, who influenced many women to enter the artistic arena. The discipline doesn’t matter.
Not for nothing did Judy Chicago create the installation Dinner Party (in 1979), where she invited 39 women ignored by history to a fictitious triangular table (with cutlery and napkins in the shape of a vulva). From the goddess of fertility to the painter Georgia O’Keeffe, including the doctor Trotula, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, the poet Emily Dickinson and the writer Virginia Woolf.
It is moreover the (fascinating) journey of this woman – a true warrior in her time – which inspired the actress Gabrielle Lessard, who signs here the text and the direction of this Judy very contemporary.
Around the character of Judy Chicago, played with aplomb by Louise Laprade (a real pleasure to see her on stage!), revolve six characters who will be influenced by the artist’s thoughts – notably by reading her autobiography Through the Flower. Each of the stories cleverly interwoven into each other.
The central character, played by Noémie O’Farrell (very accurate in her pathos), unhappy in a relationship as much as in her role as a mother, is incapable of moving forward with her writing projects. She will find refuge and consolation in the arms of a libertine creator who is a bit of a showoff (excellent Victor Andres Trelles Turgeon). His companion (Jérémie Francoeur) will do the same thing…
Parallel to this first plot is the other central character of Judy, that of the gynecologist doctor (delusional Louise Cardinal), who has indeed smashed a glass ceiling, but who, it seems, has been completely swallowed up in the masculine and bourgeois world in which she is immersed. From the woman she is, she would only have sex.
She will be in open conflict with her daughter (Anna Romagny), who refuses to continue her medical studies. But even she, undoubtedly the most rigid character, will emerge from this story transformed…
Breaking your tone
Gabrielle Lessard’s characters, who will all end up, thanks to the magic of theater, crossing paths, are at the same time grotesque, eccentric and disillusioned. While their destiny plays out before our eyes, Judy Chicago appears occasionally to tell us about her journey, her works and her life. It’s very instructive, but we agree, we are in a completely different register here.
This break in tone – we almost fall into documentary theater when Louise Laprade appears – is destabilizing. Perhaps these segments could have been a little less didactic… It is indeed difficult to dive into the more fun proposal of this loaded dramatic text, which nevertheless never loses its direction: the questioning of certain of our beliefs in contact with art.
For the rest, we take great pleasure in seeing these six incredible stories intertwined – although well anchored in reality – imagined by Gabrielle Lessard.
Stories which unfold with a powerful dramatic breath, magnified by inventive scenography and staging, where thanks to trapdoors installed on the ground, the characters appear and disappear, as if they were diving into themselves.
Special mention to Noé Lira, interpreter of a young painter, who does not have time to paint… who will be the lover of the cuckolded husband in the first frame, and who will sing a cappella (in Spanish) to his heart’s content.
The fact remains that when we emerge from this labyrinth, it is the words of Judy Chicago that remain in our heads. Her militant feminism – to which it is difficult not to adhere, especially if we place ourselves in the historical context of the 1970s and 1980s – hits the mark, but is not achieved without consequences. Because no, you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.
Consult the part page
Text and direction: Gabrielle Lessard. With Louise Laprade, Noémie O’Farrell, Victor Andres Trelles Turgeon, Louise Cardinal, Anna Romagny, Noé Lira and Jérémie Francoeur.
At the Today’s Theater CenterUntil February 17