A moving work addressing
the AIDS Crisis
(more) Propositions for the AIDS Museum assembles a stellar cast
By Luc Archambault
I really didn’t know what to expect when I showed up at Théâtre Lachapelle and sat down to watch (more) Propositions for the AIDS Museum. Having been away since 2013, I wasn’t aware of this performance by Projets Hybris, directed by Philippe Dumaine, that assembles a rag-tag distribution of actors, dancers, musicians.
… this performance… assembles a rag-tag distribution of actors, dancers, musicians.
Is there a consistent storyline? No. The show is made up of small pieces unequal quality-wise, but all centring on the main issue: the AIDS epidemic, from its infancy during the 80s till today.
This is a peculiar beast of a show. You’ll see drag queens exposing their inner thoughts, numbers of which are more mime than theatre. You’ll hear songs, poems, and you’ll be mesmerized, fascinated by such a display of talent, without all the trappings of a complex scenography or an unlimited budget.
And you will be made aware of a shushed reality: the ongoing struggle of HIV-positive men and women, their views on AIDS, love, death, life. This is an ambitious project. It could have showed too much, with such a premise. But it delivers, boy, does it deliver!
I have to especially congratulate Jordan Arseneault for his impressive range of acting. He is an on-stage presence to be felt. His poignant performance as a drag queen is moving beyond belief. And Danièle Simon, with her monologue, is a welcome funnier side. Also, the music composed (and played live) by Mykalle Bielinski gives a perfectly well balanced undertone to the whole.
‘You’ll hear songs, poems, and you’ll be mesmerized, fascinated by such a display of talent, without all the trappings of a complex scenography or an unlimited budget.’
The Ensemble (Projets Hybris) works on this constantly evolving show. It has changed since its birth in 2014, as the members have gained an even deeper knowledge on their main subject; and with the touring of this magnificent show, they even hope for a wider audience, either through film or some other medium.I wish to stress the vivacity of this performance. While it could have dwelt into negativity, morbidity, it (or should I say they, because all those involved have participated in this massive creation) elevates the focus onto life, onto the most expressive assertion of the inner-force of each and every one.
Is it a corollary to the fact that some of the performers are HIV-positive, and view life as a cherished gift? Such a reductive statement seems too cliché. They have found a creative outlet to open the dialogue and invite all of society to take a second (or even a first…) look at the AIDS crisis, and its ever-present effects. Not just on the gay community, but on society as a whole.
‘… this performance… elevates the focus onto life, onto the most expressive assertion of the inner-force of each and every one.’
As I said earlier, this could have been a negative view, a behind the door, or swept-under-the-rug kind of all-out denunciation. But with its tone, with its emphasis on life, on a loving approach to life and to the lives of all touched by this epidemic, by the lack of affordable medication (and in the meanwhile, billions are spent on arms and wars), if not the lack of cure…
This is an uplifting show. If it ever plays again, be sure not to miss it for the world. This is a truly deep and profound experience. It will rekindle your faith in humanity. It moved me beyond belief. And I am not easily moved.
Images: Claire Renaud
Writer and journalist, globe-trotter at heart, passionate about movies, music, literature and contemporary dance, came back to Montreal to pursue his unrelenting quest for artistic meaning.