Joël Da Silva

Following in his parents' tradition, da Silva took part as a youth in family marionette tours that included several shows of his own invention. After graduating, he joined the creative collective La Cannerie (1980-1983), where he explored writing and composition as well as acting and directing.


Da Silva, Joël

 Joël da Silva, actor, director, musician, playwright (b at Montréal 25 Oct 1959). Trained in performance in the theatre option at Cégep Lionel-Groulx (1977-1980), and in music (piano and voice), Joël da Silva has written about 20 children's plays that combine rich imagination and a highly musical language.

Following in his parents' tradition, da Silva took part as a youth in family marionette tours that included several shows of his own invention. After graduating, he joined the creative collective La Cannerie (1980-1983), where he explored writing and composition as well as acting and directing. Next, he collaborated on several children's shows for Théâtre Pince-farine (1983-1985). With Le Moulin à Musique, in 1987, he conceived the production, words, and music for La Goutte, a show for young audiences in which his taste for the unusual and his subtle humour were already apparent. In 1989, he wrote and performed a hilarious solo that truly brought him into his own: La Nuit Blanche de Barbe-Bleue, directed by Louis-Dominique LAVIGNE, a Théâtre de Quartier production that ran for 8 years in Canada and in France.

After this initial success, classic tales remained a source of inspiration for Joël da Silva. He cheerfully gave them makeovers (Le Pain de la bouche, a very free adaptation of Hansel et Gretel, dir. Lise Gionet, Théâtre de Quartier, 1992), or drew inspiration from their archetypes or specific motifs such as the hero's quest, an ordeal or a magical object. The author enjoyed using puns, alliteration, and repetition to tell stories full of mystery about curiosity, fear, the search for identity, or grief. Acknowledging children's intelligence, he turned away from realistic situations and simplicity. While his texts with their rhythm and musicality resemble fairy tales, he composed additional music for most of his plays, in particular Le Petit bon à rien (1998) and Les Gardiens du feu (2000), with Théâtre de l'Avant-Pays. These performances further demonstrated that his rich and lively universe lent itself well to marionettes, a genre that allowed the author much freedom. Thus, in Château sans roi (Théâtre de l'Avant-Pays, 1996), Petit Mosus Rex, an extraordinarily hideous and sneaky character, can rub shoulders with Monsieur, a king who endures the intruder's arrogance. Da Silva pursued a fortuitous collaboration with Le Moulin à Musique, directed by his sister Marie-Hélène, where he presented musical performances entirely of his own design (Un violon sur l'épaule, 1995, Opus for best production for young audience; La Maîtresse rouge, 1999; L'Aube, 2002; and Garde-robe, 2006).

In 1999, Joël da Silva founded his own company, Théâtre Magasin, where his art could unfold at leisure without the need to compromise. In the company's first two productions, da Silva made a welcome return to the stage: in the cabaret Le Magasin des Mystères (nouvelle administration) (2000), which combined delightful tales in the spirit of Halloween; and in Émile et Angèle, correspondance (2002), performed in tandem with his co-author, Françoise Pillet. This bittersweet exchange between a Québécois boy and a French girl, co-produced with la Compagnie Françoise Pillet (France) and directed by Sylviane Fortuny, won l'Arrière-Scène's audience prize in 2002-2003. In 2005, Théâtre Magasin joined with l'Arrière-Scène to create La Chanson du fou in which themes dear to the author (search for identity, return of the repressed) borrow from the tortuous path of creative writing and invite the spectators to enter (so to speak) the subconscious of the character of a writer. In Le Temps des muffins (2009), which he wrote and directed, Joël da Silva portrays a whimsical cook, half magician, half poet, who sprinkles everything with delicious words.