Born in 1968, author, actor, and director Wajdi Mouawad spent his early childhood in Lebanon, his adolescence in France, and his young adult years in Quebec before settling in France, where he now lives. He studied in Montreal, at the National Theatre School of Canada, and was awarded a diploma in performance in 1991. Upon graduation he began codirecting his first company, Théâtre Ô Parleur, with actor Isabelle Leblanc. In 2005, he established two companies, Abé Carré Cé Carré, in Quebec, with Emmanuel Schwarts, and Au Carré de l’Hypoténuse in France.
Meanwhile, in 2000, he served as artistic director for the Théâtre de Quat’Sous in Montreal, a position he held for four seasons. He and his French company, Au Carré de l’Hypoténuse were associate artists at Espace Malraux, scène nationale de Chambéry et de la Savoie, from 2008 to 2010. In 2009 he was artist in residence of the 63rd edition of the Festival d’Avignon, where he staged the quartet Le Sang des Promesses. From 2007 to 2012, he served as artistic director for the French Theatre of the National Arts Centre of Ottawa. He has been associated artist at the Grand T- Nantes from 2011 to 2016. He was appointed at the head of La Colline – national theatre, in April 2016.
His career as stage director began with the Théâtre Ô Parleur, with whom he staged his own works, published by Leméac/Actes Sud-Papiers in French to be performed: Partie de cache-cache entre deux Tchécoslovaques au début du siècle (1991), Journée de Noces chez les Cromagnons (Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons' , 1994) and Willy Protagoras enfermé dans les toilettes (1998), followed by Ce n’est pas la manière qu’on se l’imagine que Claude et Jacqueline se sont rencontrés cowritten with Estelle Clareton (2000). In 1997, he wrote and staged Littoral (Tideline - 1997) which he also adapted and directed for cinema in 2005. Following closely were Rêves (Dreams - 2000) and Incendies (Scorched - 2003), which he staged, in Russian, for the Théâtre Et Cetera in Moscow (and was then adapted for cinema by Denis Villeneuve in 2010, nominated for Best Foreign Language Movie of the Year during the 83rd Oscars Ceremony, and performed in a staging by Stanislas Nordey at La Colline- national theatre in 2008 and at the National Theatre of Strasbourg in 2016), Forêts (Forests) appeared in 2006. In 2008, he wrote, staged and played Seuls, a show which is still touring in France and abroad. In 2009, he worked to putting together the quadrilogy Le Sang des Promesses, which included a new version of Tideline, as well as the shows Scorched, Forests, and Heavens. He created the play Temps in 2011 at the Schaubühne in Berlin.
Wajdi Mouawad also wrote plays for young audiences (Pacamambo, Un obus dans le Coeur (A bomb in the heart), La petite pieuvre qui voulait jouer du piano), interviews, as well as novels: Visage retrouvé, (2002), and more recently Anima (2012) (which was awarded various awards among which in 2012 the grand prix Thyde Monnier from the Société des Gens de Lettres, the award Phénix de la Littérature, the literary prize for a Second Novel in Laval and in 2015 the prize Lire en Poche de littérature française).
Wajdi Mouawad, who was initially trained to be an actor, performed various characters in seven of his own works, as well as acting under the direction of other artists, such as Brigitte Haentjens in Albert Camus’ Caligula (1993), Dominic Champagne in Cabaret Neiges noires (1992) or Daniel Roussel in The Chairs by Eugène Ionesco (1992). In 2010, he played the role of Stephan Federov alongside Emmanuelle Béart in Camus’ play Les Justes directed by Stanislas Nordley and presented at La Colline – national theatre.
He never shied away from the opportunity to explore other worlds as a director : Al Malja (1991) and L’Exil by his brother Naji Mouawad, Journey to the End of the Night by Céline (1992), Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1992), Tu ne violeras pas by Edna Mazia (1995), Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting (1998), Oedipus King by Sophocles (1998), Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh (1999), The Trojan Women by Euripides (1999), Lulu le chant souterrain by Frank Wedekind (2000), Reading Hebron by Jason Sherman (2000), Le Mouton et la Baleine by Ahmed Ghazali (2001), Six characters in search of an author by Pirandello (2001), Manuscrit trouvé à Saragosse, an opera by Alexis Nouss (2001), Ma mère chien by Louise Bombardier (2005) and Three sisters by Tchekhov (2002). He collaborates regularly with Krzysztof Warlikowsi (a translation to French of A Streetcar Named Desire – created in february 2010 at l’Odéon – Théâtre de l’Europe, Contes africains adapted from Shakespeare, created at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in 2011 and Phèdre(s) created at l’Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe in march 2016).
He is now devoted to staging Sophocles’ seven tragedies in three productions: Des femmes, which brings together Les Trachiniennes, Antigone, and Électre (2011); Des Héros, which includes Ajax un cabaret and Oedipe Roi (2014); the complete version entitled Le Dernier jour de sa vie was presented in the frame of Mons 2015, European Capital of Culture and then Des mourants freely adapted from Philoctetes and Oedipe à Colone which was presented at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in mai 2016.
With his newest cycle Domestique, he pursues his research around themes which are familiar to him, he created Seuls in 2008 and Soeurs in 2014, which are both still touring, and will soon, create Frères with Robert Lepage, followed by Père and Mère.
Upon an invitation by the Opera of Lyon and the Canadian Opera Company (Toronto), he staged L’Enlèvement au sérail (The abduction from the seraglio) by Mozart in June 2016 at the Lyon Opera (musical direction by Stefano Montanari) Wajdi Mouawad has received many awards for his works, amongst which the prix de la Francophonie from the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD) for the entirety of his works and artistic output. He is Chevalier de l’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres de France (total output, 2002), Officier de l’Ordre du Canada (total output, 2009), and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec (total output, 2010).
He also conducted the project Avoir 20ans en 2015 (Being 20 in 2015) with 50 teenagers (from the cities of Mons, Namur, Nantes, the island of la Réunion and Montreal) who followed the company for five years and grew along the trips to Athens, Lyon, Auschwitz and Dakar. Recently, he led a workshop with the 3rd year students of the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris and staged them in Défenestrations, presented in November in Paris. He continues his exchange with the young generation through collaborations with the Ecole Supérieure d’Art Dramatique in Paris, the University of Strasbourg and the MC93 in Bobigny.
His plays and novels have been translated in more than 20 languages, and have traveled the 5 continents, being produced and presented in theatres around the world, amongst which: Japan, Brazil, Korea, Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, Morocco, Britain, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Australia.
The French editions of Wajdi Mouawad’s plays are, for most of them, published by Actes Sud and Leméac in French. Wajdi Mouawad is represented by the artistic agency Simard.
Heavens (Ciels), trad. Linda Gaboriau, Playwrights Canada Press, 2014
A bomb in the heart (Un obus dans le cœur), trad. Linda Gaboriau, Playwrights Canada Press, 2013
Tideline (revised version) (Littoral), trad. Shelley Tepperman, Playwrights Canada Press, 2011
Forests (Forêts), trad. Linda Gaboriau, Playwrights Canada Press, 2010
Scorched (revised version) (Incendies), trad. Linda Gaboriau, Playwrights Canada, 2010
Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons' (Journée de noces chez les Cromagnons), trad. Shelley Tepperman, Oberon Modern Plays, 2008
Dreams (Rêves), Linda Gaboriau, Playwrights Canada Press, 2007
Scorched (Incendies), trad. Linda Gaboriau, Playwrights Canada Press, 2005
Tideline (Littoral), trad. Shelley Tepperman, Playwrights Canada Press, 2002
Alphonse (Alphonse), trad. Shelley Tepperman, Playwrights Canada Press, 2002
Wedding Day at the Cro-Magnons' (Journée de noces chez les Cromagnons), trad. Shelley Tepperman, Playwrights Canada Press, 2001
updated on july 12th 2016