The Madness Trilogy


The Salon Automaton


Created this time in co-production with Momentum, and the Usine C theatre.

This solo required many years of preparation, and extensive research to finally see the day. Nathalie Claude created, wrote, directed and performed it. It was a close collaboration with Raymond Marius Boucher (designer of the automatons, set and accessories) Simon Laroche, (designer of robotics and electronics), and Isabelle Lussier (sound designer and composer).

The challenge was to create these beings of wood and metal, respecting the esthetic of the first automatons presented in 19th century salons. As well as making them good and reliable actors, but here, using the technology that “Coppélius” did not have; giving them life through a modern robotic design.
The result was shockingly full of… humanity !

In The Salon Automaton we discover a woman, The Hostess (Nathalie Claude) lonely and nostalgic for a certain time, who recreated for her own entertainment a literary salon.

Her guests: The Dandy Poet, The Drinking Patroness, and The Cabaret Artist; human-size robots, physically articulated and with speech, and fascinating by their perfect mechanisms, copying the illusion of life. In their company, she does her utmost to revive the art of the conversation, cultivated in these mythical meetings of artists and intellectuals of the 16th century to the middle of the 20th. Although they respect the golden rules of the salons: active listening, coherence, brevity, tact and a sense of repartee, the automatons pre-programmed by their nature, always keep it to a singular line of thought. In this context, who will triumph? A burlesque confrontation from all eternity.

A solo where Nathalie Claude is not alone on stage, but surrounded by actor-machines. A piece that speaks eloquently of the very modern evil: human solitude.

It was created and performed in Montreal at the Usine C theatre (October 7-25, 2008), in Toronto at Buddies In Bad Times theater, in it’s English version (December 1-12, 2009). Then it toured through the Maisons de la Culture in Montreal, as well as in Quebec’s province 2009-2010: Théâtre La Rubrique et Maniganses (Jonquière), Théâtre du Bic (Rimouski), Théâtre Hector-Charland (l’Assomption) and in the Montreal international puppet festival: Festival de Casteliers, at the Outremont theatre.

Modern robotics meets existential drama in this stunning display of art and technology. The Salon Automaton is a literary salon, a burlesque confrontation, an infernal “huis-clos” between a sublime hostess (Nathalie Claude) and her three distinguished guests: three authentic human-size automatons.

Written, directed and performed by: Nathalie Claude

Automatons conception: Raymond Marius Boucher and Simon Laroche
Automatons programming: Simon Laroche
Recorded Automatons voices (english version): Moynan King, Clinton Walker, Leni Parker
Assistant director, and general stage manager: Colette Drouin
Set design and props: Raymond Marius Boucher
Costumes: Judy Jonker
Make up and hairstyling: Angelo Barsetti
Music and sound design: Isabelle Lussier
Lights: Claude Cournoyer
Automation operator: Étienne Grenier
Production manager: Lucie Mineau
Technical direction: Geoff Levine
Production : Momentum in co-production with Usine C, and Buddies in Bad Times Theatre

Lenght: 1 hours 30 minutes. Text in french, or in English.

Photos © Rolline Laporte

Photos : Private Collection