The Inventory: Robert Lepage

Robert Lepage, 55, is one of the world’s foremost stage directors, known for his innovative multidisciplinary work. Among many other honours, he is a past winner of the European Commission’s Europe Theatre Prize

What was your earliest ambition?

I was interested in geography, which translated into a desire to learn new languages and travel.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

State school – I was in Quebec and pretty much everyone went to one. Then the Quebec City music conservatory for three years.

Who is your mentor?

The person who incarnates my vision is Ariane Mnouchkine, head of Théâtre du Soleil.

How physically fit are you?

I’m in better shape than I was at 40. I’ve always been physical in my work; there’s a lot of physicality involved.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

It has to be a mix. Your ambitions can only be accomplished if you have or acquire a talent.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?


How politically committed are you?

There’s something political about all artistic impression but I don’t invite politics in.

Homes: two, both in Quebec City

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

I try to be conscious but, personally, I don’t obsess about it.

Do you have more than one home?

Yes, but within the same city. A country house – a suburb house, we pretend it’s the country – and a condo in the city centre.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A building that belongs to me where I could gather and welcome other artists, a place where synergy could create amazing things. We have a project for a theatre in Quebec City – but we don’t actually have a theatre. I have to travel around the world; I would like a more solid base.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

The house in the countryside. I’ve discovered the joys of investing in a pool, a lawn, a garden.

In what place are you happiest?

The rehearsal room. It’s where I exercise what I know and where I learn, it’s where my friends hang out, and my enemies – a microcosm of the world.

Ambition: to become a better pianist

What ambitions do you still have?

I started to learn to play piano and it’s become a passion. So – to practise and get better.

What drives you on?

Curiosity. I don’t have a plan. I like all the surprises around the corners.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

I never think in terms of achievement – the next project is always the most interesting.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

My relationship with film. My theatre is very filmic so I always thought that film would be natural for me. It was exactly the opposite – film and I don’t get along.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

He would be freaked out by what’s ahead of him. I was always very shy.

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Rely on my friends and family. I remember starting from scratch with nothing, but I had love and the opportunity to express myself.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes, under certain circumstances.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I don’t have any belief in God, but I do have a spiritual life and I believe in continuums.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

I’m very satisfied but I have so much to learn. Eight and a half.

“Playing Cards 1: Spades”, directed by Robert Lepage, runs at the Roundhouse, London NW1 8EH, February 8 to March 2, 0844 482 8008;

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