by Emmanuelle Walter
In a library, at night. The audience sits in two rows facing each other. The performance begins. We look around discreetly to try and identify which of the spectators are the parents, sisters and brothers of the 17 adolescents about to take the space.
Let’s be clear: Claudel Doucet’s Que nous Soyons is a gem. Created with a reception class of recently immigrated students, the work interweaves choreography, theatre and circus. Its canvas is the library of the Paul-Gérin-Lajoie-d’Outremont high school, where they study. To witness the teenagers’ unquiet grace in this space – their space – is a joy. They circulate, telling us their names. The world materializes before our very eyes. They come from Moldavia, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Brazil, the Philippines, Venezuela, Iran, Vietnam, South Korea, China and the Ukraine. Through staging and texts from a writing workshop delivered in a myriad of accents, they carry us into their inner worlds. “I dream of a mountain of ice cream,” “I’m afraid of losing my native tongue,” “I am of few words,” “I do not understand Donald Trump,” “I will become a Québécois,”… And also this address to Venezuela’s president, “You have destroyed our freedom.” And the troubling statement: “Hello father, … I wonder if I might come back and live with you. I miss you terribly… May I live with you?” In the audience, we cry. The dancer-acrobats Christine Daigle and Mathias Reymond gently slip into the world of the young performers, illustrating encounters, defiance and solidarity. Arad, the Iranian, began the show with this insolent statement: “In Iran, we speak of oil and poetry.” He closes the event reading a French translation of a Persian poem. And it is the end. And it is a triumph, with whooping, standing audiences, flowers, moved parents, a beaming dramaturge, and the radiant youth who dared reveal their souls with the utmost dignity.
That you may be, that we may be, with you, in a library, at night.