“Tony sells tickets”: Tony is a sage

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«Tony sells tickets

Photo: Valérian Mazataud Le Devoir Maxime Brillon worked for eight years in a box office, studying screenwriting and literary creation, then in theatrical interpretation. In “Tony Sells Tickets,” “I combined eight years of work experience into a 50-minute show, with the story unfolding in the real-time box office,” with veteran Tony and apprentice ticket clerk Jazz , “who is on his first day of training”.

We all know a Tony. It is to him that the actor and playwright Maxime Brillon pays tribute in Tony sells tickets, a short piece produced by the young company Collectif Tôle, of which he is the co-founder. “Tony exists, the person who inspired me to create this character exists,” says Brillon. He was a work colleague, who became a friend and whom I adore. And that's actually the type you find in any business: there's always some kind of Tony where, if you take him out, everything falls apart. The pillar of the company, the one who really keeps the machine running, the one who will watch over his post until the end, who defends the fort. »

And this fort, it will be understood, is a ticket office. Maxime Brillon worked there for eight years, studying screenwriting and literary creation, then in theatrical interpretation. In Tony Sells Tickets, “I combined eight years of work experience into a fifty-minute show, with the story unfolding in the real-time box office,” with veteran Tony and apprentice ticket clerk Jazz, ” which is on its first day of training”.

What happens to Jazz in the room, Maxime lived it. On his first day at work, a musician cancels the concert he was supposed to give. “It's been hell!” Now, in my story, I grafted another thing that happened to me: the time a DJ also canceled his performance because he didn't clear customs, but the producer replaced him with another DJ who was going to play his songs for him. I was like, “That doesn't make sense!” Luckily, Tony was there to handle the situation, with all the control of someone who knows the song.

“A lot of times when I'm writing, I hear music or a beat in my head, explains Maxime Brillon. Music is a natural part of my work; with Carl Matthieu [Neher, musician, composer, co-founder of Tôle], we work in symbiosis. The members of the collective, including Marie-Ève ​​Groulx [director of Tony sells tickets], we are patent seekers, all visual artists who build machines. »

Out of necessity, Maxime Brillon became interested in computer coding; for Tony sells tickets, he learned about Arduino, a new technology company specializing in microcontrollers that run on its own open source software, which are articulated through the Arduino IDE computer language, based on C ++ (to summarize roughly). The tool “in fact allows him to control the engine of ticket printers as he pleases,” says Brillon. “By speeding up or slowing down their motors, we can make them 'sing', in a way. And make them talk. In the play, every customer calling the ticket office phone number to resolve a problem is interpreted by a ticket printer.

In the belly of “Ticket Faster”

This theatrical and strangely musical comedy is therefore set in an office, with this character of Tony – embodied by three different actors – who we guess is as resourceful as he is colorful. It's reminiscent of the cult series The Office, a caricature of life at work: “We're a bit in this spirit, agrees Maxime. The Office, Clerks [comedy by Kevin Smith, 1994] less silly, except that there is a little less irony. It is felt, there is hope, poetry and love, even if the machine is big and it swallows us all. »

Because in the subtext, Maxime Brillon takes a critical look at this essential link in the entertainment industry, the ticket trade, which the author knows intimately. He worked there at the box office during those years when the promoter Evenko, then entirely owned by the Molson family, extended its hold over the performance halls of the metropolis. “Which means that almost everyone in this environment is managed from the Bell Centre. That's a lot of different places, with their own peculiarities, to manage at the same time — you can't manage a theater ticket office like that of L'Astral or Métropolis”, as these rooms were called at the time when Maxime had the tickets printed. and responded to customer complaints.

Because the machine squeaks, he noted, from his own experience and drawing inspiration from the book Ticket Masters : The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Audience Got Scalped, by journalists Dean Budnick and Josh Baron (Plume, 2012). “An incredible book,” says Brillon. It is an in-depth investigation into the history of ticketing, its automation and the control of Ticketmaster [now owned by the multinational entertainment company Live Nation] over all stages of production and marketing. of a show. “

“If there is a global vision in Tony sells tickets, it is that the process of selling tickets is organized to make us forget that there is has people behind the machine but in the end we will always need someone behind a counter” to respond to the customer. And the risk that an industry runs, that of entertainment, when a company has almost total control of it. “Tony frontally denounces the monopoly of 'Ticket Faster' and 'Live Ovation' in the show”. Tony is a sage.

Tony sells tickets

Text: Maxime Brillon. Director: Marie-Eve Groulx. With Fabiola Nyrva Aladdin, Justin Laramée, Joanie Martel, Dominick Rustam. At the Duceppe Theatre, until April 7.