In Quebec, the literary arts flirt with the public

In Quebec, the literary arts flirt with the public

Since 2019, the Quebec literary community has managed to make the question of the literary arts visible on its territory and thus participates in a certain institutionalization of the notion.

This phenomenon is part of certain emblematic places, on the side of cultural actors, such as the Maison des arts littéraires de Gatineau (MAL, 2020), an annual showcase for the dissemination of literary arts imagined in addition to the Outaouais book fair or even the “Quebec in all letters” festival.

On the research side, a recent file published in a Franco-Quebec journal also intends to take stock of these contemporary literary practices favoring a poetics of convergence and hybridity.

On the ground and in terms of reception, we can therefore wonder about the way in which the literary arts maintain a tense relationship with their audiences, between participation and destabilization, through a plural literary creation, publicized and spectacularized. Our analysis focuses on these forms within a framework of mediation and media coverage of specific and ephemeral literature, that of the festival event)

A publicized literature, between interactive digital device and cartomancy

Within the House of Literature, nestles during the festival “Quebec in all letters”, the installation “Clairvoyantes” borrowing from the universe of the carnival its decoration and from cartomancy, this divinatory art resorting to the drawing of cards. After entering this intimate and dark marquee, the user facing the mirror and the touch screen asks his question to the virtual oracle, who invites him to draw three cards (a character, a place and an object) corresponding visual and sound literary fragments.

This interactive combination imagined by an author (Audrée Wilhelmy) and an atypical publishing house with its own editorial laboratory) interweaves the texts of fifteen Quebec writers according to the path of each user and iconic media (female figures, places, objects) particularly aesthetic which revisits the tarot and favors the immersion of the public.

This literary oracle which crosses mediums offers a literature mediated by digital technologies which, beyond its playful dimension, aims to reconfigure the creative practices resulting from the literary arts and to capture other audiences. In the same way, the device of the oracle was thought out in this transmediality, on the one hand in the form of an object, a box comprising forty-five cards and an interpretation book, and on the other hand, through a digital platform) extending the literary experience online. The advantage of this device lies in the hybridization process carried out.

The immersive and multimedia device “Clairvoyantes” invites the spectator to settle down to benefit from a literary oracle.
Carole Bisenius-Penin, Author provided

Poetic consulting room: from adaptation to the spectacle of revisited and performed tales

Far from a classic theatrical adaptation, the device of the company Théâtre à corps perdus (“Rx: tales-drops”) was thought of as an ephemeral and intimate poetic consulting room which distils drop by drop extracts from tales from the works by Quebec author Martin Bellemare, based on a game of exchanges between an actor in a medical gown and a participant seated on a consultation table revisited for the occasion.

This tailor-made course deployed from a multiple-choice questionnaire is based on a combinatorial matrix like the Storytelling your way by R. Queneau and is a real feat of memory: the actor must narrate and perform, according to the choices of each participant, the many excerpts mobilized during the show (about thirty tales).

An actor awaits you for a tailor-made literary consultation.
Carole Bisenius-Penin, Author provided

This consultation, a kind of “tailor-made dosage” of about twenty minutes, declines, through this proximity, this potentially destabilizing face-to-face, a literature sometimes whispered in the ear of the participant-patient which gives to understand storytelling in another way and requires the active participation of the public, strongly soliciting bodily and sensory involvement within the device.

In addition to the singularity of the literary text chosen and the originality of the installation diverting the medicalized framework, this spectacularized form of “narrative medicine”) also questions one of the current trends, the “literature of care” according to Alexandre Gefen or that of “care out loud” from the angle of bibliotherapy advocated by Régine Détambel.

Plural dramaturgy: technological avatars and active participation

Show from the Laboratory of new image, sound and stage technologies (LANTISS of the University of Laval, the proposal of the DTT collective, entitled Around the Pink Animal Hell (AREA) is also an adaptation of the play Animal Hell Pink of the poet and playwright Claude Gauvreau, a worthy representative of the Quebec artistic movement, says of automatism inspired by surrealism and an inexhaustible source of poetic metaphors flush with consciousness.

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The use of literary arts combining theatrical text and various interactive tools (video mapping, synthetic voice generated in real time) certainly corresponds to the desire of these young creators to jubilantly pay homage to Claude Gauvreau, while questioning the function of the poet, but more specifically still to position the public in a real performative posture.

Indeed, this form of spectacularized literature is above all envisaged in a participatory mode because it invites 8 people from the public to endorse characters from the work under a mask and to settle on stage “at the virtual and crazy feast of Domitien Dolmansay , robotic gorilla and host of the evening”. Through the prism of their technological and animal avatars, the volunteers can choose to follow or refuse the instructions displayed on their plate, according to the elaborate video and sound tables. They thus become true co-authors of the show.

To conclude, the literary arts in their festival form offer an opportunity to understand the perception of audiences with regard to literary creation from which they are usually excluded and “to better approach other types of audiences through the disciplinary crossovers carried out” according to Valérie Lambert, director of the Maison de la littéraire de Québec, in order to understand how the forms of literary socialization induced can also participate in the transformation of cultural practices and the renewal of audiences.

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