Red: a duo of explosive

Rouge: un duo explosif

The actors Michel Nadeau and Steven Lee Potvin explore the relationships student-teacher in the room <em>Red</em>, presented to The Broadside.

23 February, 2020 21: 17


Red: a duo of explosive

Rouge: un duo explosif

Judith Desmeules

The Sun


An explosive duo consisting of a master painter, and his pupil and shall tread it down soon to the scene of The Lined for the play Red. This master-student relationship, the actors already know well : Michel Nadeau was professor Steven Lee Potvin there not so long ago, even its director to a certain point.

“The master-student relationship is there, you don’t need to touch it. Let’s see if Michel is really applying what he gives to the school?” joke Steven Lee Potvin, who finished his training at the Conservatoire de Québec in 2016.

The character played by Michel is a painter in behavior, angry and anxious, he shows himself hard with his apprentice. Share the stage with her teacher can be intimidating, but given that the character of Rothko and his actor are completely different, Steven Lee Potvin does not too.

“Michel is really too nice, it is that which is pleasant. Mark Rothko has a character unbearable, but Michel is extremely soft. The fact that we have a small team also helps a lot.”

The two actors of the play only repeat with the director, Olivier Normand, and one or two other people. They tell of the two years prior to the delivery of a mural created by the artist Rothko for a luxury restaurant, the biggest order for a contemporary artist at the time, five scenes, five key moments between the two characters (a story partially true).

“It is real to give a pretext for a discussion on the art, the reception of art and the relevance of the art”, adds Steven Lee Potvin.

Through one place, the workshop of the painter, the two characters will exchange the word for an hour and a half, a dialogue rich in inquiry, where the thinking is changing with the room.

“What John Logan [text] well is that it infuses a lot of emotion in the piece, as much in confrontation as in the memories that the characters tell,” says Michel Nadeau.

The room does not speak just of the art, it also notes the transfer of knowledge and talent. Nadeau and Potvin will explore this relationship between an artist well-installed, and the one who wants to trace his path to success.

Several hats

Michel is also the artistic director of the theatre The Lined. In addition to his hours as a teacher at the Conservatoire de Québec, he has also signed a number of staged and theatrical texts. It made several hats at once, that’s 11 years that Michel had not played in a room professional.

“It’s almost a holiday when you do just play… it’s still a lot of work, but I just have this to occupy me.”

Is it that he has the habit of giving advice to his former student? “I don’t mind it! I am very careful… I leave that to Olivier Normand, when you’re a director, it is your vision of the show. Each one his place, he insists. This is not my first barbecue,… when you have a lot of hats, the brain works in a compartment, when it is there, it is fully there, it is not necessary to be elsewhere. It is a gymnastics practice.”

And the man with the long piece of road is already familiar with a part of his audience… his students will be in the first rows to see their teacher play. “It’s good to put a little bit in danger… otherwise it purrs. This is a piece that I really loved when I discovered it. The master-student relationship touched me, even if I don’t have a report as hard as this.”

The ball in play

If the room may seem didactic, with only the deep discussions, the actors ensure that the work is “sporty”. Michel and Steven Lee must take the part to them both for an hour and a half, which is a challenge, and they intend to keep the spectators awake.

“It’s like a game of tennis or ping-pong, you attack a scene, it ends and we are preparing for the next. Once the ball is in play, it never comes out,” notes the interpreter of Ken.

“Once it starts, the roller coaster starts, it is impossible to stop anything. There is a lot of manipulation and a lot of texts. The debate of ideas should be very incarnate, the ideas which are supported by emotions, he didn’t want it to become just a debate of two guys who jasent paint”, finished the professor.

The Red piece is presented at the theatre The Lined from 25 February to 21 march. For tickets :



The Red part tells a slice of life of the artist Mark Rothko, while he receives the largest order in history of modern art. One can recognize his paintings, but the man and his difficult character remain little known.

The painter and teacher Mark Rothko (his real name, Markus Rothkowitz) has accepted the mandate to provide paintings for the new luxury restaurant Four Seasons of the new skyscraper on Park Avenue in New York, the Seagram Building. A mandate that will shoved his thoughts, the relationship he has with art and how it is perceived.

If the character of Michel Nadeau is real — Rothko died in 1970 at the age of 66 years, the one interpreted by dr. Steven Lee Potvin is fictitious. The young assistant Ken has been added to the story to facilitate the dialogues.

“Everything that Rothko says in the play, these are things that the real painter has said in correspondence. Ken is committed, he learns her trade and learns to have a vision, share it, challenge it and make it his place,” says Michel Nadeau.

The amount of money involved in the control of Rothko, there is talk of $ 35,000 at the time which was worth about $ 2 million today, has also fuelled the conversation deep and existential on the item The american writer John Logan is so inspired by an experience to the writing of the piece, it tries to answer the question : “When an artist becomes famous, is this the beginning of his end?”

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