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Volume 35, Number 3 (2014)

Adapting “Le Grand Will” in Wendake: Ex Machina and the Huron-Wendat Nation’s La Tempête

December 16, 2014


This article examines how La Tempête, a 2011 collaboration between Robert Lepage’s theatre company, Ex Machina, and the Huron-Wendat Nation on the Wendake First Nations reserve, fostered moments of productive interculturalism both on stage and off through what I have termed scenographic dramaturgy. Lepage’s process of scenic re-“writing” responds to the evocative potential of individual performer bodies and a production’s given physical location to craft a postdramatic adaptation rooted in highly physical and visual performance text. This analysis draws on intercultural theory, scenographic dramaturgy, postcolonial theory, and postdramatic adaptation and includes a brief survey of Quebecois and First Nations Shakespeare productions in Canada, highlighting some of the potential traps of staging postcolonial interpretations, including power imbalances among intercultural collaborators and reductionist portrayals of difference. Ex Machina and the Huron-Wendat Nation’s ability to avoid many of these traps will be interrogated through examples illustrating how scenographic dramaturgy’s three central components—bodies in motion, architectonic scenography, and historical spatial mapping—function as both a process and product fostering progressive dialogue between cultures.