Joe Jack and John is a theatre company that produces original, bilingual, multidisciplinary shows combining video, dance, and the spoken word. Our artistic approach is deeply humanistic and inclusive; our creations represent a social microcosm by integrating professional actors with an intellectual disability or from diverse cultural backgrounds.
We favour devised creation for projects that centre on current social issues. The uniqueness of our artistic teams is as much about aesthetic research as it is about promoting human encounters: we aim to lift up rarely-heard voices; to encourage reflection on contemporary issues; and to move the social conversation forward through art.
In October 2003, Catherine Bourgeois co-founded JJJ in hopes of creating a different kind of theatre (or at the very least of making it in her own way): politically engaged, performative, and relevant. From 2003 to 2009 she shared the leadership of the company with Amélie Dumoulin, with whom she co-created our company’s first four shows. Together they developed what would become the aesthetic signature of JJJ. Beginning with Quand j’étais un animal (manuel de taxidermie) [When I Was an Animal (Taxidermy Manual)] (2004), they explored devised creation with inclusive casting. During this period, our co-artistic directors were already creating new works centred on socially relevant themes: for example, Go shopping (et fais le mort) [Go Shopping (and Play Dead)] presented at La Chapelle in 2006, tackled the theme of grief with reference to George W. Bush’s speech in the aftermath of 9-11. They also experimented with site-specific pieces, including Ce soir l’Amérique prend son bain [Tonight America Takes Its Bath] at the Bain Mathieu in 2005, and Mimi (myself et tous ceux qui me regardent) [Mimi (Myself and Everyone Who Looks at Me)], presented in an semi-industrial loft in Mile End in 2009. Ever since then, site-specific locations and themes inspired by current events have been major elements of our aesthetic, promoting intimacy with the audience and a sense of heightened theatrical adventure.
At the end of the 2008-2009 season, Amélie Dumoulin left the company to pursue her own literary work and was replaced as Co-Artistic Director by Jean-Pascal Fournier. At this time, we launched the development cycle of Just Fake It (Théâtre Aux Écuries, 2011), the first of our shows to make a significant mark on Montreal’s artistic landscape. The reach of this piece also opened doors for us to travel and to present our work at the regional, national, and international levels. During this same period, we also initiated Les Lundis théâtre [Theatre Mondays], an outreach project aimed at young adults with Down Syndrome, in partnership with RT21/Quebec Down Syndrome. In 2012, Jean-Pascal stepped down from the position of Co-Artistic Director in order to transition into a career in the visual arts. As the president and vice-president of our board respectively, both Jean-Pascal Fournier and Amélie Dumoulin remain associated with our company.
Since the summer of 2012, JJJ has been led entirely by Catherine Bourgeois, who has directed all of our productions. As always, Catherine has surrounded herself with trusted artistic collaborators in order to create pieces such as AVALe [Swallow], (Théâtre Aux Écuries, 2014), je ne veux pas marcher seul [I Don’t Want to Walk Alone] (Théâtre Aux Écuries, 2015), Abîmés – quatre courtes pièces de Samuel Beckett [Scarred – Four short plays by Samuel Beckett] (Théâtre Denise-Pelletier, 2016) et Dis merci [Say thank you](Espace Libre, 2018). This latest work enjoys unprecedented visibility and brings the company to the Theatre Centre (Toronto), the National Arts Centre (Ottawa), the Cercle Molière (Winnipeg), and Mainz (Germany), in addition to numerous dates in Quebec and the Greater Montreal area. Overall, there will have been 50 performances of this tragicomedy about togetherness!
During the 2019-2020 season, the company proudly moves into a brand new office at Espace Libre, as a resident company of this major centre for theatrical experimentation. It is also an opportunity to improve the welcome of its artists-in-residence: Michael Nimbley and Edon Descollines. Next, Joe Jack and John will present VIOLETTE, a unique experience combining theatre and virtual reality.
Photos : Julie Rousse, Frédéric Bouchard, Glauco, Adrienne Surprenant, Frédérique Ménard-Aubin, Catherine Aboumrad, Charles Lafrance.