1709128114 Podcast Just between you and me Under the mask

Podcast Just between you and me | Under the mask of Robert Lepage, wrestling fan

In “Just Between You and Me,” journalist Dominic Tardif boasts of a great luxury: time. Always somewhere between laughter and emotion, between deep reflection and wild anecdotes, these interviews offer opportunities that allow media and cultural personalities to pursue their thoughts.

Published at 1:32 am. Updated at 5:00 am.


We've known for several years that he's a wrestling fan, but still: Robert Lepage talking to an acrobat about the psychology of a wrestler and asking him, “Would a real wrestler behave like that?”, it's as amusing as it is it surprises. Ahead of recording an episode of the podcast series Juste entre toi et moi, we spent the day in Quebec in the company of the man who takes himself much less seriously than we imagine.

We're in a storage room at the Musée de la Civilization de Québec and Robert Lepage is crouching in front of André the Giant, trying to find the optimal position to place the giant espadrilles under the late wrestler's equally giant cream pants. Robert Lepage is obviously not quite in front of André the Giant, but in front of a model – huge! – on which one of his suits hangs, borrowed from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

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Have you seen many wrestling matches in the last few months, Robert? “Too much. We've watched too much, haven't we, Steve?” replies the director, giving a meaningful wink to his right-hand man, Steve Blanchet, the creative director of Ex Machina.

Podcast Just between you and me Under the mask


Interview with Robert Lepage in his office

The company has been working on the Lutte exhibition for over a year. Quebec in the Arena, which will take place on March 20, a project for which both have become experts in the field – enough in any case for the author of these lines, who has been a student of the muscular mattress heroes since he was four years old or from overwhelmed by their knowledge.

Find the Kisbets

But now, having finished with the Ferré giant's shoes, Robert Lepage, Steve Blanchet and Ex Machina executive producer Nadia Bellefeuille are somewhere in the museum's labyrinths, trying to find a way to lay their hand on Kisbets . These pants are suitable for wrestling in Turkish oil. The object, which was supposed to be part of the exhibition exploring struggles around the world, is still missing.

Give it up? No way ! Not giving up, Robert Lepage searches his mental Rolodex looking for someone, somewhere in the world, who could bring the essential item of clothing back to Quebec.

Does he enjoy pushing his colleagues to their limits? “Yes, a little, but not because I'm sadistic,” he replies, laughing, in his bright diamond office overlooking Place D'Youville, where you can find characters from wrestling and Star Trek, a laminated version of the first Genesis, show in Quebec on April 6, 1973 (a show he attended), as well as a bust of Shakespeare hiding a button that activates a scale model of Batman's Batcave, which he shows us with the innocent joy of a child will be Christmas.

When young people start with us, they give 200%, yes, but they don't always immediately understand that when we say in a meeting “Oh yeah, that's not possible,” that means we start all over again. The next day to zero.

Robert Lepage

The tragedy and the ridiculous

At his gym in Loretteville, Robert Lepage accepted an invitation from wrestler Marko Estrada to attend an NSPW gala. The man of the theater admits it with a frankness that no one suspected of him: he had ideas about what ideas these big guys might have of him.

One evening at the Horizon Center and it was clear: Robert Lepage would quickly understand that he had deprived himself of a pleasure that was as irresistible as it was cheesy for too long. Marko Estrada is now a friend and advisor to SLAM!, the show inspired by the world of wrestling that he puts on for the circus company Flip Fabrique.

Since opening in 2019, the Diamant has also hosted wrestling galas, with a pianist in tails playing Metallica and Black Sabbath on the Louis XV-style gold leaf-covered Steinway that sits in the hall.

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Robert Lepage

Several of the apparent contradictions that Robert Lepage embodies seem to be contained and resolved in this image of a pianist who plays metal: that of a sophisticated creator with an international reputation, but whose father was an almost uneducated taxi driver and who wants nothing more than staying true to the past of the place where the diamond is placed, the Montcalm Market, where rich and poor came to shop.

In the fight there is all the tragedy of existence, reinforced by the distorted faces of men and women with dripping torsos, but also the ridiculousness of this existence, two elements that constantly collide in the work of Robert Lepage. And yet the image of a stiff intellectual sticks with him, which perhaps explains why people are startled when his longtime girlfriend Guylaine Tremblay calls him Bob on set and he calls her Guylou in return.

A funny guy

His interest in wrestling is undoubtedly sincere, but if this unlikely alliance could help deconstruct that false reputation, he wouldn't be complaining. “People always think that I am a very serious person, but I am a very funny guy, I am even capable of being vulgar,” assures the man who also starred in the film “Ding and Dong”. At one of their first meetings, an archivist at the Musée de la Civilization recited to him from memory the monologue he delivers in this classic of Quebec cinema. Much to Robert's delight.

I have often been offered to participate in well-thought-out events and at first I said no, but in the end I accepted because a whole side of my personality comes out there. People are surprised: “I didn’t think you could joke.”

Robert Lepage

Lepage's fascination with wrestling also stems from his past as a star player in the LNI, a sport in which to score points you absolutely have to play with your opponent, not against them.

“The struggle,” he notes, “is based on an enormous paradox: you have to give the impression that you are the strongest, the most intelligent, the most gifted, the most talented, but at the same time you simply have to force yourself to represent yourself. “There is no going forward. You have to help the other person shine. » What if there was something like a life lesson here?

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Three quotes from our interview

About the predestined aspect of the battle

“We have the wishful thought to say, 'Look, you act as if it's true and I'll act as if I believe you.' And that's the beginning of the theater! We know full well that Marie Tifo is not Maria Chapdelaine, but we accept it as long as she convinces us of it. It's an exchange of credibility, it's a game for two people. »

About the connections between wrestling and circus

“I became interested in the circus again because I found the same energy there as before in wrestling. The very first Cirque shows [du Soleil], that was it: there was athleticism, acrobatics, risks, great bodies. I have the impression that in Quebec, for a while, the move away from fighting was filled by the new circus. »

About what makes a good wrestling match

“A good wrestling match is when you feel like there are issues beyond what's happening in the room. The referee has to be really good because the referee represents justice and he has to show that justice is often sold. […] The public doesn't just see wrestlers beating each other, they also see injustice, cheating people, honest, pretentious people. People react to that. One of the most important characters is the audience. »