The Visceral Need to Play
Students were invited to speak to Board members and Governors at the School's Annual General Meeting.They have allowed us to reproduce their speeches on this blog. Here, Irdens Exantus speaks about the moment when he knew that his life would be forever tied, in one way or another, to the theatre.
Irdens Exantus (Interprétation 3, Laval, QC) delivering his speech at the 2019 Annual General Meeting
I would like to begin by thanking the members of the Board of Directors and Governors who have provided me with the opportunity to be here with you this morning.
My name is Irdens Exantus. I am a third-year student in the Interprétration Program at the National Theatre School of Canada. I grew up in Fabreville, Laval, and went to the Collège Français de Montréal on Fairmont Street, just a few blocks from here. It is there that I met my high school drama teacher, Emmanuelle Ouellette, who introduced me to my first true love, theatre.
For as far back as I can remember, I have always felt a deep connection with the arts. And yet, back then, I didn’t fully realize just to what extent Ms. Ouellette had ignited a spark that was to become a burning need to act. A need to experience that moment when I dive headfirst into the void, where time is suspended, where we share our fears, our questionings, our rebelliousness.
Camille Giguerre-Côté (Interprétation 3, Montréal, QC) and Irdens Exantus (Interprétation 3, Laval, QC) in Dessiner le monde*, a young public show written by Tamara Nguyen (Écriture dramatique, 2019) and Hugo Féjabise (Écriture dramatique, 2019)
Unfortunately, ideas of studying to become a mechanical engineer, a lawyer, or even a pastor (the hope of every Haitian parent for their young son!) far outweighed my newly discovered passion. Above all, I wanted to follow my parents’ dream.
It was at the Collège Montmorency that I reaffirmed my love for acting by joining the theatre group, Le théâtre Délirium. At the end of CEGEP, my stage director recommended the Stage Horizons Diversité, a four-day program in which the participants explored different aspects of actor training at the National Theatre School through workshops given by the school’s teachers and coaches. At the time, I knew very little about the school except that it was one of the most prestigious theatre schools in Canada and that big names such as Roy Dupuis, Sylvie Drapeau, and Didier Lucien (my favourite!) had studied there.
Lydia Sherknies (Interprétation 3, Montréal, QC) and Irdens Exantus (Interprétation 3, Laval, QC) in the show Dessiner le monde, texts by Tamara Nguyen (Écriture dramatique, 2019) and Hugo Fréjabise (Écriture dramatique, 2019)
The workshops, however, were a real revelation for me. It was precisely then that I fell in love with the National Theatre School, not only for the quality of its teachers but also because of those workshops, which had already allowed me to know myself better, surpass myself as an actor, and develop my identity as an artist.
I knew right then that my life would be forever tied, in one way or another, to the theatre. My desire to act and to make a living from acting had almost become an obsession. It was only after I had enrolled and begun the Acting Program at the National Theatre School that I was able to relax. And this, despite the incredible chance I had had, right after I had finished the Stage Horizons Diversité, to make my film debut in Philippe Falardeau’s film Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre. Despite, too, that I was taking a huge risk in promising my parents that their son would have a more prolific career in theatre, in spite of the fact that nothing here can be taken for granted, that we are always having to start over, and that that’s a most terrifying thing.
Maxime-Olivier Potvin (Interprétation 3, Montréal, QC), Lydia Sherknies (Interprétation 3, Montréal, QC), Irdens Exantus (Interprétation 3, Montréal, QC), and Fabrice Girard (Interprétation 3, Montréal, QC) in the show Dessiner le monde, texts by Tamara Nguyen (Écriture dramatique, 2019) and Hugo Fréjabise (Écriture dramatique, 2019)
Nevertheless, it was to experience all of it that I decided to come and study here. To live these moments of complete freedom in which we can take the time to search, to make mistakes, to search even deeper, to cultivate what we discover and everything that shapes our character, our personality, our artistic DNA. To experience these moments when we give ourselves the right to fully celebrate being alive.
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