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In 1988 Wayne Gretzky broke Edmonton's heart. This summer, the Great One came back — through art

Thierry Marceau's latest performance art production ponders Gretzky's legacy and the imprint he has left on Edmonton.

Thierry Marceau's latest performance art production ponders Gretzky's legacy and his imprint on Edmonton

(CBC Arts)

Artist Thierry Marceau muses, "Even if Gretzky comes back to Edmonton, in '88 he broke something and there's pieces all across the city."

That legacy (or haunting) of the Albertan city by a hockey legend is the subject of Marceau's recent performance. It's called "The Great One's Back," and Marceau enacted it an exhausting 12 times during Nuit Blanche Edmonton this fall.

Watch the video:

Artist Thierry Marceau embodies Wayne Gretzky and examines what he's meant to Edmonton. Filmmaker: aAron Munson. 6:11

Far from impersonation — where you might expect to see a lookalike dressed as a celebrity and offering autographs or selfies — Marceau's performances are intricate webs, distilled from the important (and sometimes imagined) events in his subjects' lives. For example, his "The Great One's Back" stages vital landmarks from the hockey icon's timeline like Gretzky's wedding, the bachelor party we never got to see, his heartbreaking transition to the L.A. Kings and the injury that almost ended his career. All are woven into a performance that puts physical and emotional demands on Marceau, who through this production ponders Gretzky's legacy and the imprint he has left on Edmonton.

In this video by filmmaker aAron Munson, Marceau takes you through some of the elements driving his performance, and you get to be a fly on the wall as he goes through Gretzky's life. Whether or not you're a hockey fan, this show offers insight into how a sport can shape a town and its people.

See the work of Thierry Marceau as part of "L'Éclatement de limage" at Musée Régional de Rimouski until January 27.

(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)
(CBC Arts)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.

About the Author

Lise Hosein

Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an instructor at OCADU and is always quite terrified of bees.