The actor and host François-Étienne Paré served as artistic director for the Théâtre de la LNI. Deprived of what he loves most in the world – improvise –, the ex-moderator of RDI Junior returns to his passion until the health crisis is fading. Chat with a creative, engaged, and abreast of the news.
Francis Stephen, how’s it going?
It’s going well, I would tell you. It seems that our life is rearranged my girlfriend, my children and me. It seems that I see the light come. I feel that this will soon be the same for our activities as a company. We had small moments of sadness, I still live by moments, but all in all, it’s going well.
Precisely, that is what you do to quench your thirst for improv during the pandemic?
I tried to watch a little of what was being done by ZOOM and all that, but I think I’m not the right viewer for it. I like it when it’s done in person in a room where the audience and the artists are together. We share a kind of unique moment.
What we saw in this time demand a great adaptation. When one is improvising, one must have the ability to force it on a ten-cennes?
Yes, I think so. I think I am deeply improviser. When situations change, I adapt. Without being insensitive, the improvisers are going to find another way to come up with something interesting and satisfying. Our brain works like that.
Several of you have experienced as a facilitator at RDI Junior. Follow you still current or if, on the contrary, you need to take small breaks because of what it’s like to live in the moment?
RDI Junior, it was from 2000 to 2003, and this period of my life has left traces. I have many, many watched the news in the last few months. On the contrary, it seems that it gives me a grip on life, on reality, on what is coming. It helps me in my positions and to look more sharp on our society in general.
If there is something that comes up a lot in the news, this is the concern that the cultural milieu, particularly as it relates to the performing arts. What it will look like the LNI post-COVID-19?
It is in the process of drawing a scenario of possibilities. I’m not the biggest fan of [the improvisation in the video], but it is full of qualities. If you made videos, as a company, however, it was the desire to make something pleasant to look at. You see, I have seen the summary of what the liberals had done to announce their new chief in Infoman , and I told myself that it was exactly what I didn’t want to do for our awards ceremony!
On 17 June, the Théâtre de la LNI has published a report on the state of improvisation in Quebec. You suggest including the establishment of a professional association. What is it that’s going to change in terms of the actual players?
The goal of sustainability, for me, it is mainly for the companies and the discipline as such. With this in mind, there… The Association is going to give better production means better salaries. It is practically paid the minimum fee for the LNI and it is the only professional company of improvisation that works with a collective agreement such as the Union des artists (UDA). It comes at a time in the development of this discipline where it is necessary that the environment is structured and professionalized.
Improvisation was invented by Robert Gravel and his colleagues, there are more than 40 years. It is a jewel of quebec. How is it that an association like this one has not been created before?
It is a medium that is very little documented on video and in the book, and it is an art form that is ephemeral. I think it has not helped. It is also seen by the people of the theatre as a little horse on the discipline. If I was making a shortcut, I would say that it is a little seen as clowns or as part of the variety. All of this combined, I think that it is that it has delayed this evolution-here.
Traditionally, the improv contains the codes of hockey. In any case, this is the case with the LNI. Is it that it would be advantageous to frame the improvisations drawing inspiration from the structure of a sports line?
It is discussed, but there are fears because it seems that the competition as such is seen as problematic in our practice. This is what we do, it is a staging of the competition. At the LNI, it is often said that the competition, it is the business of spectators. The artists work in collaboration. This is not two teams of four… It is a team of eight!
Often, the improv serves as the springboard for the actors, comedians and even tv hosts. This is not seen as a career in itself. Is it something that you aspire to change with the association?
Yes, it is clearly in our objectives. It doesn’t make sense that in Quebec, where it is done as improvisation, we can’t earn our living doing the improv. The player with the LNI are several shows per week and they are not paid for several of them. We made contracts UDA and the Punch Club has found a way to compensate its world, except that it is far from being the case for all leagues. Yet, these are performances of great quality. In my opinion, it has to change.