Luc Provost has lived with Mado Lamotte for 35 years. Every evening, or almost, the tireless bickering machine brings him on stage in seductive dresses and bright wigs to seduce the turbulent cabaret audience.
Published at 1:29 am. Updated at 7:15 a.m.
But this fall, Luc puts Mado in a closet.
The man who studied theater at UQAM in the late 1980s (finally) takes to the stage to take on a Michel Tremblay character he has long met. Claude Lemieux, aka Hosanna, was supposed to meet Luc Provost. This happens at the Grand Théâtre de Québec in Hosanna ou la Shéhérazade des paupers, which opens the new season of the Théâtre du Trident.
In this montage of the play and Michel Tremblay’s latest novel, Luc Provost plays an aged and embittered Claude Lemieux, who from his balcony continues to lick the gaping wound left by the famous evening when he was humiliated by his transvestite friends. As he smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol, he recounts how his life ended that evening. At his feet we see the Hosanna that he developed, as well as Cuirette, the Duchess of Langeais, the infamous Sandra and other characters.
I spoke with Luc Provost while rehearsals, which began in early August, were going well. He, accustomed to dealing with a single character according to the principle of improvisation, realizes that he has experienced a certain stress.
At first I looked at the other actors and was nervous. The director really calmed me down. It’s been better for a few days.
The audience knows Claude Lemieux from the play (Jean Archambault and René-Richard Cyr marked him with a hot iron). But not that of the novel. Before embarking on this, Luc Provost did a lot of introspection. “First I had to get away from Mado and his mannerisms. The director keeps asking me to stop playing with my hands. I have to get this Claude Lemieux to touch the audience at the end of the play. »
The world of bars and cabarets no longer holds any secrets for Luc Provost. But he realizes that what Tremblay describes in the piece is nothing like what we see today. “It’s less bitchy than in the 1970s, there’s more mutual help. »
Likewise, the world of drag queens, as it has existed for several years, no longer has anything to do with the one that Claude Lemieux once knew. “He says it clearly, he is a transvestite,” adds Luc Provost. He also doesn’t like today’s drag queens. »
As surprising as it may seem, Luc Provost was not lucky enough to be discovered by a director when he left UQAM. “I was too small to play Romeo, too funny to be dramatic and too young to play an adult. » Faced with this impasse, he decided to focus on the character of Mado Lamotte, which he created from scratch during his studies. “After ten years, I realized how much space it was taking up. I accepted that. »
But what’s even more surprising is that Luc Provost was never invited to enter Tremblay’s world, a world created for him. When “Tomorrow Morning, Montreal Awaits Me” and “Sainte-Carmen de la Main” were presented in Montreal a few years ago, no one thought to offer him a role.
The long-awaited call finally came… from Quebec. “I admit I don’t understand,” he said. Olivier Arteau, the director of Trident, immediately thought of me for this character. He talked about it with Maxime Robin, the director. They told themselves that based on my experience it couldn’t hurt. It’s certain that if I’m doing well, maybe there are people in Montreal who are thinking about me now. »
Unlike young Montreal drag queens like Jean-François Guèvremont (Rita Baga), Simon Gosselin (Gisèle Lullaby) or Sébastien Potvin (Barbada), Luc Provost has always refused to appear on television without Mado’s costumes and makeup. Lamotte. Looking back, he believes this may have prevented his career from pursuing other paths. “Maybe the directors would have said to themselves that there is a guy who exists outside of Mado. »
Luc Provost’s appearance without Mado Lamotte in the show La vérité nature in May 2022 was a turning point. “In the months that followed, I really felt a difference,” he admits. Plus, the Trident offer came shortly after. »
It’s interesting to see Luc Provost embody a fallen and broken being as he prepares to experience a huge upswing in his career. “I find it touching because what happened to Claude Lemieux could have happened to me. This character makes me experience something that prevents me from saying that I failed in my career and that I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do. »
Montreal ceases to exist for Luc Provost until October 7th. Once the performance series is complete, he will then release an autobiography entitled Une Madographie. In this work he tells of his rich journey as the essential Mado comes to make his contribution. “I will definitely enjoy this fall to the fullest. He is important in my life. And it’s good for my skin too. »
Hosanna or the Scheherazade of the Poor, a production of the Théâtre du Trident directed by Maxime Robin, from September 12th to October 7th at the Salle Octave-Crémazie.