ATSA, quand l'Art passe à l'Action





Annie Roy and Pierre Allard, ATSA's artistic directors

ATSA enjoysgetting into hot water!

Philippe Ducros, artistic director at Espace Libre, invited us to produce an original creation for his theatre. He offered us the opportunity to close his 2012-2013 season with a show to be performed not only inside the theatre, but outside as well: in the street, as we are used to doing with our urban interventions. We knew Espace Libre for its socially engaged work and its love of experimentation. As creators, exploring new avenues is always highly stimulating, and this persuaded us to take the plunge!

Having always created encounters that took place in the street, we wondered what type of rapport we could develop with the public inside the theatre. We had already created works for artistic venues; our approach had always been to transform the latter into an “everyday” space, e.g., an artists' centre once became a free laundromat for the whole community!

Proposing an experience inside a venue that is outfitted “like a spa” calls into question the contemporary approach to spectacle and performance, namely and increasingly as entertainment and escapism. We drew inspiration from the binary of hot/cold to add contrast to the experience and to incite people to have the courage to take action!

We have created a hybrid universe, inspired by what we do in the street. We put the participants in a “realistic” situation and give them an identity: our spa's clients! Starting in late May, they will all be invited to fill out an online survey on well-being at The compiled results will serve as the basis for one of the performances in Se mettre dans l’eau chaude.

We bring to this project our baggage, which includes staging urban interventions, but we also want to be contaminated by the medium of theatre and to propose a work involving a full-on dramatic narrative, with stage play, actors and stage direction. We are orchestrating an experience in a well-circumscribed time and space. Our collaborators and actors are very engaged as individuals and totally get what we are attempting to accomplish. They are great!

Together, we raise questions about happiness, both collective and individual, and how the pursuit of one is related to that of the other and in fact dependent upon it. This in turn shines the spotlight on what we are ready to sacrifice as individuals in order to achieve the greater collective good, and on how important it is we do so!

We have the utmost respect for our spa's “clientele,” i.e., the public, and would never ask them to involuntarily or unwittingly become part of the show. We simply ask them to play along and to don a bathrobe!

This moment of relaxation is also a pause for reflection, and should make us want to take action! Go on, everyone, slip into those bathrobes!


Philippe Ducros, Espace Libre's artistic director

 Annie Roy and Pierre Allard do essential work in our cultural landscape. With intelligence, rigour and flair, they venture into territory where few dare tread. The citizen art that forms the core of their approach has rarely been as inspiring and inspired. Having participated in a few of ATSA's État d’urgence events, I know for a fact that Annie and Pierre have the ability to transcend the artistic event to touch the very fibre of our human spirit. For years now, I have been following their work with respect and admiration. At once beacons and watchdogs for our wavering society, without ever being moralizing or allowing the “message” to distort or dilute the artistic expression, they give us hope and impart to us the courage to change the world in our own way. Their presence within the walls of our theatre could not be more in keeping with our mandate as a cultural venue and our artistic direction. Of this, we are immensely proud.