A photographic celebration of the love between a theatre and its community
Foule is twenty people and their stories. How do the lived experiences of residents of La Cité-Limoilou, Quebec City’s urban core, resonate with the plays presented by that community’s well-loved theatre, La Bordée? To find out, two artists – Éric (LeBlanc) and Jean-François (Bolduc), known together as Atwood – sat down with participants as they generously shared their stories.
Every story recalled a recent play put on at La Bordée. They also reminded us of friends and family, neighbours and loved ones. And like so many mirrors, they reflected back small parts of ourselves. Only after listening to the participants’ stories did we photograph them. Taken together, their portraits represent the diverse beauty of central Quebec City.
From these encounters was born a massive mural on the brick wall behind Théâtre La Bordée. It standed tall in the heart of our city from October 2020 to May 2021, a celebration of our diverse community. By day, twenty faces watched over us as we passed by in the street. And when night falls, projections enlivened the “crowd,” displaying quotations from the plays associated with them, borrowing words from the characters who have trod the theatre’s boards, sharing their trials and tribulations, secrets and hopes. These are the faces in a crowd, the strangers we run into in cafes or on the bus, and who in this way share in a small part of our lives, and perhaps your life too.
In real life, these fleeting encounters live on only in our imaginations. But on the Foule website we have the opportunity to delve deeper.
Foule is twenty ordinary people, but also each and every one of us. Foule is the story that touches us, the smile that reminds us of a parent, the kindly, knowing look from a stranger, the saying that touches a chord deep inside. Foule brings us face to face with the mirror image and tangible embodiment of characters we have admired on the stage. It is a love letter from the theatre to our community, from a team of writers and photographers given the opportunity to stitch these stories together. The project shines a light on the resilience of our community, La Cité-Limoilou.
A wide-reaching project
From a restrospective of the physical immediacy of the larger-than-life mural to the protean possibilities of the web platform, Foule is an invitation to meet our community and share in its contagious joy, uphill battles, and secret hurts. You may just find that we have more in common than previously thought. By enhancing the evocative power of photography with the capabilities of video mapping, storytelling, and other arts, we aimed to show how the theatre is enmeshed with everyday life. Ultimately, the project should serve as a reminder that we are all part of a single crowd, each contributing in our own way to the intricate beauty of our community.
From October 6, 2020, to May 15, 2021, bystanders could admire the twenty portraits of residents of La Cité-Limoilou on a massive mural displayed behind the La Bordée theatre (visible from the corner of major thoroughfares Dorchester and Charest). By day, outsize photographs payed homage to an entire community. And at night, projections on each face presented quotations from plays put on at Théâtre La Bordée, testament to ways their daily lives embody the art of theatre.
The podcasts [French only]
Twenty community members, twenty plays, twenty episodes: to make the images of Foule even more resonant, we added sound. A series of short podcasts [French only], put participants in conversation with the actors involved in associated plays at Théâtre La Bordée. Produced by André Chouinard in collaboration with CKIA Radio, and hosted by Éric LeBlanc, these audio encounters are opportunities to explore the links between theatre and life in the vibrant community of La Cité-Limoilou. Leave your preconceptions at the door, and come get to know the diverse cast of characters who populate both stage and street.
The collaborations [French only]
Foule became an opportunity to join forces with other artistic communities of Quebec. Four institutions collaborated with Atwood and La Bordée to conceive varations on the project's theme : the citizens. Les Gros Becs youth theater, Mois de la poésie (Poetry Month), Ville de Québec (Quebec city arts council) and Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (National Quebec Fine Arts Museum) made Fouleshine in a different light, as a side exhibition or an exclusive night projection on the mural. Redescover the outcome of these collaborations, as well as the two main projections - signed by Emile Beauchemin and Camion Studio.
Learn more about each Foule participant by selecting their portrait on the website. Photos, podcast episodes and associated stories describe the unique experiences of the twenty individuals represented on the mural, snapshots of the soul of La Cité-Limoilou. Also on the platform, you can learn more about the project’s genesis, the fruitful collaborations that gave new meaning to the project, the artists and team behind it, and the large cast of collaborators who generously contributed to its success. An agora for the era of physical distancing, the website is the perfect remedy for self-isolation, building community through deep engagement with the stories that make up Foule.
On May 18, 2021, the Foule mural came down and the projectors got unplugged. We then acted to take down the mural in a environmentally responsible fashion that reflected local residents' wishes. The parts of the fabric taht wasn't saved for archives was given to La Joujouthèque, which used it for their day camp activities with young campers. The rest was split between the artistic and fashion communities of Quebec, or used to protect crop soils during winter.