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 stands tall in the heart of our city, a celebration of our diverse community. By day, twenty faces watch over us as we pass by in the street. And when night falls, projections enliven 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 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, 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 pay homage to an entire community. And at night, projections on each face present 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.
Learn more about each Foule participant by selecting their portrait on the website. Photos 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 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 16, 2021, the Foule mural comes down and the projectors get unplugged. We have designed a public consultation process to develop plans for taking down the murals in an environmentally responsible fashion that reflects local residents’ wishes. Possibilities being explored include recycling mural sections to make patio canvases, making them available to collectors, using the back of the canvas as a projection surface for outdoor events, and more. Needless to say, we’ll keep you informed! Suggestions? Email us at email@example.com