THE GREAT WORD HARVEST…A BIT OF HISTORY
From its earliest days in 1998, The Theatre des Petites Lanternes (TPL) has concentrated on creating works linked closely to the community. For the past ten years TPL has been called upon to participate in research in the field of cultural mediation, and also on citizen participation in the artistic process, both at home in Quebec and elsewhere in the world. This has inspired TPL to innovate, developing new creative paths and structures but never abandoning the goal that its creative work be grounded in the community. It was out of this research and exploration that the Great Word Harvest (La Grande Cueillette des Mots) was born in 2007 in Sherbrooke, Québec; the first play emerging from the plain, everyday free speech of citizens, collected in “Spoken Note Books” (Carnets de la parole).
This unique way of creating a play was inspired by an original project by the “Compagnie L’Artifice » (Artifice Theatre), from Dijon, France, called « Le Grand Ramassage des Peurs » (« The Great Fear Roundup »). Following an artistic residency in 2005 with the Compagnie L’Artifice under the artistic direction of Christian Duchange, TPL adopted this approach and began to work to make this approache its own. This creative process took two years to come to fruition, resulting in the design of a brand new methodology, which became the Great Word Harvest.
This singular approach, adapted and shaped by TPL, led to invitations to participate in major international events. Angèle Séguin, the instigator of the project and Artistic Director of TPL, was a keynote speaker and workshop presenter at the 6th World Congress of IDEA (International Drama and Education Association), held in 2007 in Hong Kong.
The next year, in 2008, on the prompting of the British Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown, IDEA invited TPL to return in order to participate in the Chain Reaction, a world congress bringing together a diverse group of over a thousand people from artistic, community and business backgrounds.
2009 saw the advent of « La Grande Cueillette de l’Espoir » (« The Great Harvest of Hope »), launched in 30 countries on 6 continents with 900 youth between the ages of 12 and 25. Together with IDEA, this project was produced in five languages : English, French, Spanish, Portugese and Mandarin. Then in 2010 in Belém, Brazil, TPL was joined by 26 young professional artists, aged 18 to 35, from 22 countries, for the show, « La Grande Cueillette de L’Espoir ».
In 2010 the TPL partnered with the One Drop Foundation in Haiti to create a project under the Foundation’s social art programme. After the major Haiti earthquake, TPL joined up with the Haitian theatre company, «ToTo B », to create « La Grande Cueillette de la Reconstruction » (« The Great Reconstruction Harvest »), entitled Ayiti, Pawol lapli ak lakansyèl, or in English, « Haiti, Words about Rain and Rainbows ».
« We never would have believed that what we had to say could grow so much and travel so far, all the way to the stage.
Never. It’s only the arts that can make that happen!
We spoke with confidence, and we were heard »
–a Haitian writer