The company


Blending clowning, theatre and the circus arts, Le Gros Orteil performance company creates high-quality shows for young audiences. Improvisation, truthful emotions and interaction with the audience bring our shows to life. With their themes of travel and dreaming and enriched with subtle educational messages, our performances leave ample room for children’s avid imaginations and spontaneity to flourish, embarking our young audiences on a journey of story, emotion and reflection.


Founder and executive and artistic director of Le Gros Orteil, Marie-Hélène D’Amours has a remarkably creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Running on pure energy, she deepened her passion for physical theatre, clowning and the circus arts during her training in dramatic arts (acting) at UQAM and at the École de cirque de Québec, between 1999 and 2004. A little later, in 2013, her dream came true when she founded Le Gros Orteil, a performance company for young audiences.

She has eight shows under her belt. And Le Gros Orteil is known and loved in schools, theatres and circus festivals across Quebec, Canada and abroad, thanks to shows like Ahoy! Matey!, MOVE!, C’mon, Manon and Little Sailboat.

Inspired by books and reading, Marie-Hélène and her artistic accomplices, including the fiery Hippolyte, have dreamed up a new show called The Librarian. Combining circus, music and clowning, this performance will delight children and families alike. It has been performed across Canada some 400 times, and was presented in Finland and China in 2019–2020. The Librarian has had a profound impact on the company’s artistic signature.

In 2019–2020, Le Gros Orteil obtained a creation and production grant from the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec to finalize some artistic exploration. Its new creation, Octave, took shape around three circus actors who joyfully join in the moving-day adventures of a somewhat overwhelmed grandfather!

Solidly anchored in its community yet open to the world, Le Gros Orteil makes its well-equipped space available to other creators for their research and exploration residencies or rehearsals. The company also offers various street animation activities, circus and clowning classes, as well as virtual workshops.

Le Gros Orteil is always cooking up new ideas for current and future projects, drawing on its unconditional love for children, its great desire to encourage dreaming and imagination, and its infatuation with the limitless ingenuity of the professional circus and clowning arts.

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