“Gade kadav!” Rigol screams out into the crowd, “Look at the corpses!” implicating everyone in the audience in the scene that he and his fellow actors on stage are painting with their words. What starts out as a dramatic stage performance soon becomes an interactive experience for those who are watching as they are forced to consider their own role in the state of their society that is being illuminated through the carefully crafted act in front of them. When the actors begin to address the audience directly and invite them to respond, the lines between actor and observer are blurred and the witnesses become immersed in a unique artistic experience. Rigol, as the actor Alix Olivier is known on stage, allows the weight of his words to manifest in his entire body and can draw the audience in simply through the precise but intense look in his eyes. When Rigol is finished with the scene, everyone watching is left both emotionally and intellectually challenged by what they just saw and were a part of.
At only 22-years-old, Alix Olivier’s powerful voice has quickly found its place within the culture of Jacmel. He was 15-years-old when he first saw a theater troupe perform in his church and was inspired by their art to pursue acting himself. He started learning from that group and was soon performing at church and around the community. He then pursued more formal training through programs at Jakmel Ekspresyons and Centre Culturel Charles Moravia where he was able to develop his voice, not just through acting, but also writing and poetry. Discovering the potential of these artforms to help tell the stories of his culture, he wanted to help other younger kids begin to learn the dramatic and written arts early on and he became the coordinator of a group called Pegase which trains children in art, theater, poetry, slam, and more.
Now, as he shares his art through performance throughout the Jacmel community, he says that he really enjoys the opportunity to be involved at the Jacmel Arts Center because he just “always feels more comfortable, more at home, around other artists.” He says, “the rest of the world and those that are high up in society may look at artists like we’re crazy, but other artists like us always understand each other because we come from the same world.” He describes theater as his weapon with which he can battle misunderstanding and injustice in the world. He believes that exposure to art is what helps people grow and transform as individuals and as communities. That is why he uses the stage name, Rigol, which is the Creole word for a sort of canal. He believes that words are a type of irrigation that can water the imaginations of those that hear them or read them.
He has had to work hard to get where he is over the last few years because there is no full programs of higher education for theater in the Jacmel region, so he has had to do his own research, read a lot of books, and search out other opportunities for practice and training. He hopes that someday that can change and there can be better opportunities for education in the performing arts. In Jacmel, the country’s creative capitol, especially, he says that the community needs to have a school offering a performing arts program. They have the country’s largest and most prestigious film school, Cine Institute, so it would only make sense that they also have a formidable education program for acting in the area. For now he is committed to working with other artists at SAJ and around Jacmel to expand opportunities for all. He knows how important collaboration is across disciplines because all arts inform and intersect with others. “We have to lift one another up,” he says, “it’s the only way to create the ambiance we want in the world through our creations.”