Espace GO. One of Montréal's main theatrical institutions, Espace GO, which has existed under this name since the early 1990s, stems from the Théâtre Expérimental des Femmes (TEF), whose heritage it preserves, in part. Through the years, the company has broadened its mission to become a place for the production, dissemination and reception of contemporary dramatic art, mainly in French, while maintaining its commitment to works by women. Espace GO's approach is coloured by the requirements of its artistic choices, the desire for exchange with audiences, and its roots in the current environment.
The Théâtre Expérimental des Femmes, founded in 1979 by Pol Pelletier, Louise Laprade and Nicole Lecavalier, made its mark on the 1980s with its steadfastly feminist collective creations and its work favouring the emergence of theatre art by women, particularly in the different editions of the Festival de créations de femmes. Ginette NOISEUX and Lise Vaillancourt joined the original core group in 1982, and they jointly managed all the theatre projects, then housed at the Maison Beaujeu in Old Montréal. As the lease was not renewed in 1983, the TEF was homeless for two years before discovering premises in the basement of a small factory on Montréal's Clark Street - a location baptised Espace GO.
The company's financial situation was very precarious at the time, and a major benefit performance, Le Beau Show, organized by author Hélène Pedneault, was held at the Spectrum in May 1987 - an event that rescued the TEF from bankruptcy. Pednault's play, La Déposition, directed by Claude Poissant (1988), became one of Espace GO's most memorable, Poissant being the first man invited to collaborate with the TEF by its new artistic director, Ginette Noiseux. The same year, Alice Ronfard mounted a daring version of Shakespeare's La Tempête (The Tempest) with women cast in the principal male roles. Françoise FAUCHER brilliantly portrayed Prospero, and the successful use of video screens on stage was innovative.
Once more in deficit in the early 1990s, Espace GO had to move again. Under the guidance of Louise BEAUDOIN, then chair of its board of directors, the company succeeded in raising the funds necessary to build a new theatre on St. Lawrence Boulevard. Its architect, Éric Gauthier, received the Prix d'Excellence from the Ordre des architectes du Québec for the modern structure which was inaugurated on March 9, 1995. The opening production, Philippe Minyana's Inventaires directed by Louise Laprade, was a hit, as was Michel TREMBLAY's Albertine, en cinq temps directed by Martine Beaulne a few months later.
Notable among the season's performances at Espace GO were the premieres of Cendres de cailloux and Celle-là by Daniel Danis (1993), and Heiner Mûller's Quartett (1996) with Anne-Marie CADIEUX and Marc BÉLAND directed by Brigitte Haentjens, one of the theatre's regular directors. Serge Denoncourt produced Jean-Luc Lagarce's Juste la fin du monde (2003), Michel-Marc BOUCHARD's Les Feluettes ou la Répétition d'un drame romantique (2004), and Howard Barker's Gertrude (Le Cri) (2005), three shows that received several awards.
Since 1995, Espace GO has permanently housed Théâtre PàP, which regularly presents its new works there. The Théâtre de l'Opsis, Transthéâtre and UBU also perform there as do guest artists from the Festival TransAmériques (FTA), the Festival international de la littérature (FIL) and the Festival Voix d'Amériques. Espace GO has increased its international partnerships, particularly with artists and organizations in France. Through the years, Espace GO has been the recipient of numerous awards, receiving the Grand Prix from the Conseil des arts de Montréal (2005) on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, for its distinguished role in the evolution of theatre practices in Québec, and for its total commitment to contemporary theatre open to a broad exchange of ideas.
See also THEATRE, FRENCH-LANGUAGE.