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A breath of fresh air blows over the cultural flagship at Théâtre du Bic


Nathalie Le Coz

Housed in the Théâtre du Bic, the Les gens d’en bas theatre company has been maintaining its status as a creative beacon of the Eastern Québec region for over 50 years. A recent change of leadership has recently been orchestrated—a gentle shift rooted in mentorship and continuity, with a decisive commitment towards the apprenticeship model.

Eudore Belzile, an emblematic figure of the theatrical art form, would not have passed the art director baton without having first secured a solid succession. After all, this is the very theatre that rallied wave after wave of creative talents in the region for no less than half a century.

And Marie-Hélène Gendreau was one of those talents. Born in Trois-Pistoles, she was a regular at the Caveau (Victor Lévy-Beaulieu’s theatre) and then moved on to studying at the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec before starting her career in the urban centres of the province. Marie-Hélène Gendreau couldn’t ask for a better next step in her journey as she is now taking over the role of her mentor.

At the helm of the administrative functions for a few years now is Marjorie Maury—a standout talent with a unique bag of experiences. Following her childhood dreams, she started her professional journey as an actress. Then, trailing in the inspiring wake of Officer Cousteau, she converted to marine biology. Soon after, she moved on to managing a marine research non-profit in Les Bergeronnes before making her way to the leadership of Théâtre du Bic. Marjorie Maury successfully returned to her home port, her first love: theatre.

Marie-Hélène Gendreau et Marjorie Maury Théâtre du Bic Rimouski
Marie-Hélène Gendreau et Marjorie Maury, Théâtre du Bic, RimouskiYvan Couillard

Marie-Hélène and Marjorie, the dynamic duo, now keep their eyes peeled and minds sharp to ensure the perpetuation of the Gens d’en bas mission: being a top-notch cultural centre dedicated to the performing arts. For the centre, the highlight of the year is the summer theatrical production. The authors of such productions are generally from Québec and the cast and crew are made up of local regional talents. Some of these creations are coproductions and such plays also travel to reach the audiences of collaborating cities.

But beware of misconceptions! Vaudeville, the popular summer theatre genre, isn’t really Les gens d’en bas’s cup of tea. Instead, they highlight meatier themes and tropes, and mainly draw in a local audience. Then, from October to May, the theatre hosts about fifteen shows, mainly dramatic art and contemporary dance productions. Théâtre du Bic is proud of having become over the years a broadcaster of niche quality art and a cultural staple for the region.

Théâtre du Bic, RimouskiYvan Couillard

The invigorating breath of fresh air that is taking over Théâtre du Bic is matched with a complete renovation of the space. Under its unchanged shell, the signature barn that pops up directly from the 132 Route has been repaired, insulated, and modernized with the addition of a stage house, removable seats for cabaret-style shows, a room for multidisciplinary creation residencies, and functional dressing rooms.

The postpandemic backwash that led to sky-high construction costs and disrupted schedules followed by a flood of cultural offers and the freezing of government subsidies seems to have receded. In fact, summer 2023 was mainly sold out and the team at Théâtre du Bic is excited just thinking of the 2024-25 lineup.

Book your tickets now!

Théâtre du Bic, RimouskiYvan Couillard
Théâtre du Bic salle Rimouski
Théâtre du Bic, RimouskiYvan Couillard