Le Projet Pupitre: A Musical Approach to School

Misha Tsirlin (age 12)

I had been looking forward to seeing Le Projet Pupitre, directed by Michel Lefebvre, at the National Arts Centre for a couple weeks prior to the actual performance, yet I am sorry to say that I was disappointed with what I saw here. I was excited because I was under the assumption that two performers would be making music with the things you would find in a school desk. Yet only a few minutes into the show, I became quite discouraged to find out that the sounds were heavily synthesized.

The two actors are sitting on desks facing each other. The desks were on a cracked, old wooden floor. Along with the background noises of  farm animals and children screaming, that atmosphere seemed to create that of an old village, perhaps a long time ago when villages were made up of only farms, houses, a school, a church etc. However once the synthesized music started to become evident, the atmosphere of that village failed to exist.

There were three distinct sections to the music that the performers were making, although most of their sounds didn’t quite fit the overall genre of the section. The safari section sounded like bells at first, which didn’t fit in because a normal safari would’ve consisted of animal sounds, trees whistling… basically nature sounds. The wild west section first started off as a typical (if not stereotypical) wild west with banjos, horse hooves, gunshots and then ended to an Eminem-like beat. Finally, the concerto section wasn’t a very typical symphony. It started off sounding like classical orchestra, then progressed to something more modern sounding and finally it dissolves into just a mash-up of sounds that only served to make me want to plug my ears. During many of the sounds, you could hear the actual tap of the pencil along with the amplified sound, both ruining the effect and reminding us that the sounds are synthesized.

During the lesson, and during the sound making, the lighting and the light colors fit the scenario, but at the very beginning when the audience came in, before the show actually started, the lights above the stage not only did they fail to light up the stage clearly, they were utterly blinding and distracting.

After the show ends, the main thought for most of the audience members is: How did they do that? Were their sounds amplified? Did they use a special device?

Well, it was obvious that the sounds definitely weren’t completely real, but everyone was thinking how they did that. Well, the actors ruined the purpose of the play by explaining to the audience how they made the sounds, without even giving an option to the audience to leave. It was a big mistake because the show was imagination. The sounds they created were from imagination. The show was based on imagination, not synthesizing. It’s like going to a magic show. The magician makes you believe that he is making true magic, and you are amazed. And at the end the magician explains his tricks to you, and the entire experience was ruined.

There is a reason we keep the saying: “A magician never reveals his tricks” and unfortunately for this production they really let the rabbit out of the hat.