2012 Recipient – Robert Lepage

The Council for the Arts at MIT is pleased to announce that Robert Lepage is the recipient of the 2012 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT, which includes an $80,000 cash prize and a campus residency. Renowned as a director, filmmaker, playwright, and actor, Lepage is currently directing Der Ring des Nibelungen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He also created two Cirque du Soleil productions and The Image Mill™, a spectacular architectural illumination and urban projection. The award celebrates innovative talents in all arts disciplines and is one of the most generous cultural honors in the U.S.

Lepage’s diverse and expansive body of work defies categorization. He and his creative team Ex Machina have made dazzlingly original contributions to theater, opera, film, stagecraft, circus performance, and public art. In his most recent work, Lepage transformed Wagner’s Ring cycle with an adventurous and technically sophisticated set in a groundbreaking production for the Metropolitan Opera in New York—the most ambitious the Met has ever attempted. Its centerpiece is a monumental platform for digital projections and scenic effects dubbed “The Machine,” whose planks rise, fall, ripple, or splay around a central axis to create dramatic simulations of Wagner’s imaginary cosmos. Das Rheingold and Die Walküre were presented last season. Siegfried was presented October 27, November 1 and 5, 2011, and Die Götterdämmerung on January 27 and 31 as well as on February 3, 7 and 11, 2012.  The complete cycle is presented in April and May, 2012.

During his residency at MIT, Lepage participates in two public programs: The Science of Illusion on Wednesday, April 25 at 6pm at the MIT Museum; and Technology in Stagecraft and Storytelling, a discussion of his work with Peter Gelb, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, on Thursday, April 26 at 5pm in Kresge Auditorium. Both events are FREE with advanced registration.
Lepage will be presented with the McDermott Award during a private gala held in his honor on Thursday, April 26, 2012.

About Robert Lepage
Versatile in every form of theater craft, Robert Lepage is equally talented as a director, playwright, actor, and filmmaker. His work, especially through use of cinematic special effects and new technologies, integrates seemingly unrelated elements to re-imagine for the 21st century the ritual origins of theater in communal life, storytelling, and personal and collective memories.

Lepage’s creative and original approach to theater emerged in the 1980s with productions of Circulations, The Dragons’ Trilogy, Vinci, Polygraph, and Tectonic Plates in Canada. From 1989 to 1993, he served as artistic director of the Théâtre français at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. With A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1992, he became the first North American to direct a Shakespeare play at the Royal National Theatre in London.

Ex Machina, the multidisciplinary production company that Lepage founded in 1994, was a turning point in his career. In that year, he made his first feature film, Le Confessional, followed in 2000 by Possible Worlds, his first feature film written in English, and a film adaptation of his successful play The Far Side of the Moon, in 2003. In 1997, he opened La Caserne, an avant-garde production center in Québec City devoted to the premise that new artistic forms will emerge from a co-mingling of the performing arts (dance, opera, theater) with the recording arts (film, video, and multimedia). The range of cultural forms Lepage explored grew. He directed Peter Gabriel’s music tours Secret World (1993-94) and Growing Up (2003-04), designed the exhibition Métissages for the Musée de la civilisation in Québec City, and directed two shows for Cirque du Soleil — KÀ in 2005, a resident show at MGM Grand in Las Vegas; and TOTEM in 2010, currently touring North America and the U.K. For Québec City’s 400th anniversary in 2008, Lepage and Ex Machina created the largest architectural projection ever achieved, The Image Mill™ and, in the following year, Aurora Borealis, a permanent lighting installation for Québec’s harbor inspired by the northern lights.

Lepage’s entrance into the opera world began in 1993, when he staged the successful double bill of Bluebeard’s Castle and Erwartung at the Canadian Opera Company. He continued with stunning productions in Japan, Paris, New York, and Toronto, including The Damnation of Faust (1990), 1984 (2005), The Rake’s Progress (2007), and The Nightingale and Other short Fables (2009). His pioneering approach to Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen cycle at the Metropolitan Opera over two seasons, beginning in September 2010 and culminating in May 2012, is captivating audiences and generating discussion among artists and critics in all genres.

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