This month, L’Orchestre d’hommes-orchestres will bring their latest work, Cabaret Brise-Jour (Shattered Cabaret), to Theatre Junction GRAND. The performance explores the music of composer Kurt Weill, mixing theatrical genres, musical performances, invention and language. We spoke to Bruno Bouchard and Danya Ortmann from the Quebec collective about their inspiration for this exciting performance.

BeatRoute: What is it about the music of Kurt Weill that inspired you to create this performance?

L’Orchestres d’hommes-orchestres: There are many aspects of his work we enjoy to visit and make ours. I think the most important is the way he manages to meld “intellectual” and “popular” music. This duality shows in the way he brought this “intellectual” music to popular songs and musicals.

His interest for different musical styles and his collaboration with different writers made for a very interesting, poetic, rich and artistically unique playground.

BR: What influence does famed theatre practitioner, Bertolt Brecht, have in this piece?

LODHO: Weill and Brecht worked very closely together and this, of course, is very much part of Weill’s work. You cannot work on Weill without seeing Brecht seeping through. While this is undeniable, it is not something we addressed directly. We really focused on Weill and his many collaborators, trying to explore the traces he left throughout his life.

BR: There are some talented musicians onstage, some of whom are playing instruments the audience might not expect to see or even recognize. How did you develop the sound with the use of the “music-objects” as well as conventional musical instruments?

LODHO: It goes back and forth. Sometimes a song will lead to an invention, because of its sound, its words, its general mood. And some other times, it is the object that will dictate its own needs because of its particular sound or the image it evokes. We then have to find the right song to go around the object. A music-object can come to life in many different ways: sometimes we are inspired by the artist we are working on, something in their music and their life; sometimes not. It also happens out of the blue, stumbling upon a good idea or landing miles away from where you were aiming and then finding out that it is exactly what you needed. There really are no rules, unless maybe to always stay curious about different sound textures and the evocative power of objects and the balance existing between all this.

Of course, we also play with “conventional” musical instruments, which have their own history, sound and way to be played. The dialogue between known musical references and unexpected musical experience is important to us. It creates a tension we like to feed.

BR: What have the audience responses been like as you’ve travelled?

LODHO: Behind the music, words and objects, our events are mostly about the way we live together onstage. About the poetic links that live between the things and the human experiences. That makes the moment accessible to anyone really. We try not to have a direct message to put forth and rather let the actions, objects and songs speak for themselves. It’s a fine balance between giving the show enough substance to be important and have an impact on whoever is there, without stifling it by saying one thing too loudly.

This leaves the audience free to be anyone. They can laugh one night and be very introspective the next. This makes no difference on the event itself; it’s a personal thing. But most of the time, it is a very sincere experience.

Cabaret Brise-Jour is playing at Theatre Junction GRAND (Calgary) April 9-12.

By Geneviève Dale
Photos: Guillaume D.Cyr

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