Karen Fricker
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Local, global, universal?
The Dragon’s Trilogy
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This chapter discusses The Dragon’s Trilogy, a large-scale work that jump-started Robert Lepage’s career internationally in the mid-1980s. This production exemplifies a characteristic aspect of Lepage’s work, and of the globalised arts more broadly: the juxtaposition of culturally specific material with material to which a broad spectrum of audience members can relate reflexively. Reaction to the production was very different depending on the positionality of the spectator. Within Québec the production was read and celebrated as an allegory of Québec’s national self-realisation and opening up to difference, but in international markets and even in the rest of Canada, the extent that it was a self-portrait – and self-critique – of evolving Québécois national identity was hardly legible. Rather, what were praised consistently about the production were the innovative aspects of Lepage’s stagecraft, which gave the impression of moments from the past overlapping with the present and of distant lives connecting. This capacity to deliver feeling-global affects has become one of the keys to Lepage’s international success, but it carries risks of sacrificing specific meanings for universal ones, and of potential misunderstanding when these powerful affects are delivered via culturally specific material.

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