Photo Julie Artacho
“In Anick La Bissonnière’s view, a theatrical stage is not just a receptacle to be decorated, but rather space to be occupied and built as a highly meaningful aspect of the performance.” (Excerpt from the Dictionnaire des artistes québécois, by Hélène Jacques.)
Following studies in Switzerland and Montreal and internships in Paris and Lausanne, Anick La Bissonnière was noticed and rewarded with two prizes as soon as she left architecture school in 1990, including the prestigious Alcan Award, given for one of the best design project at a Montreal university. This project, for a theatre, was a clear indication of where her interests lay. It was shortly thereafter, in 1993, that she created her first professional stage design, which was favourably received by both critics and the general public.
Since that time, Anick La Bissonnière has collaborated with dozens of directors, of all ages and generations and representing all currents of thought (including Brigitte Haentjens, André Brassard, Lorraine Pintal, Frédéric Dubois, Matthew Jocelyn, Marie Brassard, Gilles Maheu, Michel Lemieux et Victor Pilon), videographers, lighting designers, costume designers, visual artists (including René Derouin), choreographers (including Jeffrey Hall and Isabelle Van Grimde), orchestra conductors, singers, directors, actors and playwrights, not to mention the many artisans, technicians, engineers and specialists whose services she has called on in the course of her career. Her creations have been seen in theatre, dance, film, urban events, circuses, museums and site-specific installations.
Anick La Bissonnière’s work has also been featured on renowned international stages (the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Festival d’Avignon, the Brooklyn Academy of New York, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and in Asia); on Canadian stages outside of Quebec (the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Théâtre Populaire de l’Acadie in Caraquet, Théâtre de l’Escaouette in Moncton, Théâtre du Nouvel Ontario in Sudbury); in Montreal (Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, Usine C, Salle Wilfrid Pelletier); in public festivals (the Festival de Jazz de Montréal, the Festival Franco-Ontarien in Ottawa); in museums (the University of Alberta Museum, the Musée National des Beaux Arts du Québec; the Shanghai World’s Fair in Shanghai, China); and on television (concerts of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Cirque du Soleil’s Soleil de Minuit), to name just a few. She has received many awards and prizes, including a prestigious recognition at the 2007 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, alongside great artists like France’s Jean-Guy Lecat, Mexico’s Alejandro Luna and Ming Cho Lee from the U.S., as well as the 2015 ACMA Critic’s Award, in Argentina and a Prix d'Excellence from Ordre des architectes du Québec. She’s been shortlisted three times for the Siminovitch award in 2006, 2009 and 2012. before being the recipient in 2015.
Since 1995, she has been actively sharing her knowledge in most of Montreal’s universities and theatres with hundreds of students in architecture and visual arts programs and, since 2010, in set design courses at Université du Québec à Montréal. As an added complement to her practice as a set designer, she has taken part in the design and construction of dozens of performance venues across the country.
The three separate axis of Anick La Bissonnière’s career – as set designer, architect and educator – place her in a unique position in contemporary theatre as a formidable technician, a gifted communicator, a tireless researcher, but, above all, a complete, sensitive artist with a remarkable sense of creativity.