Born in Quebec City on December 12, 1957, and raised in a bilingual household, Lepage was admitted to the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique de Québec at age 18. After completing his professional training in Paris at Alain Knapp's theatre school, he returned to Quebec City and joined the Théâtre Repère. It was there that Lepage soon established himself as a major new creative force.
It was Lepage's 1984 creation, Circulations, that brought him to the attention of artistic directors and theatregoers across Canada. The following year, his growing reputation for avant-garde experimentation expanded beyond Canada's borders with his internationally acclaimed work The Dragon's Trilogy.
In 1986, Lepage's first solo piece, Vinci, was another global success. In the late 1980s, his place among the movers and shakers of contemporary world theatre was confirmed with The Polygraph and Tectonic Plates.
Eager for a fresh theatrical challenge, Lepage agreed in 1989 to become artistic director of the National Arts Centre's Théâtre français in Ottawa, where he remained until 1993. His 1992 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream marked the first time that a North American had directed a play by William Shakespeare at London's Royal National Theatre. That same year, Lepage brought his unique skills to the world of modern opera with superb productions of Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung, the latter of which won the Edinburgh International Critics Award.
Adding more pages to his portfolio, Lepage staged Peter Gabriel's Secret World Tour in 1993, then directed productions of Macbeth and The Tempest in Japanese at the Tokyo Globe Theatre.
In 1994, Lepage both designed and directed a production of Strindberg's A Dream Play in Swedish, in Stockholm. Later that year, he again broadened his remarkable range by founding the multi-disciplinary Ex Machina company in Quebec City and launching a parallel career as screenwriter and film director.
His first feature film, The Confessional, an intriguingly complex mystery inspired in part by the 1952 filming of Alfred Hitchcock's I Confess in Quebec City, was selected to open the 1995 Cannes Film Festival Directors' Fortnight and was chosen for the Claude Jutra Special Award at the 16th annual Genies.
Subsequent film projects, including an adaptation of The Polygraph and Possible Worlds, lauded at the 2000 Venice Film Festival, have met with even greater critical acclaim. Lepage's third feature film, Nô, won the CITY-TV Award at the 1998 Toronto International Film Festival.
He has also acted in films by other directors, notably Jésus de Montréal and Stardom, both from fellow Canada's Walk of Fame Inductee Denys Arcand.
On February 25, 2009, Lepage premiered a new work entitled Eonnagata at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, UK.
In spring 2009, Lepage presented The Blue Dragon (Le Dragon Bleu), a sequel to his Dragons' Trilogy, in which he reprised (more than twenty years later) the role of Pierre Lamontagne, a Québécois artist who lives in China.
In fall 2009, Lepage directed The Nightingale and Other Short Fables, an operatic staging of short works by Stravinsky blending hand shadow puppetry, Kabuki theatre, Chinese opera and Vietnamese Water puppetry. The Canadian Opera Company in Toronto premiered the work.
Lepage then wrote and directed Cirque du Soleil's Totem, followed by a new production of Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner for the Metropolitan Opera of New York. Lepage's complete Ring cycle premiered in April 2012. The Metropolitan Opera had to install steel reeinforcements under the stage in order to support LePage's roughly 45 tonne stage. Lepage was featured in a 2012 documentary about the Met Ring production, Wagner's Dream.
Lepage's body of work has earned him a number of accolades and awards. In 1986, he was presented with the Creation Award from the Conseil de la Culture de Québec for overall artistic achievement. In 1990, France awarded him the title of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Four year later, he received both the National Arts Centre Award and the Order of Canada. In 1995, Lepage was decorated with the Ordre de la Pléide by the Assemblée Internationale des Parlementaires de Langue Française. In 1999, then premier Lucien Bouchard named him an officer of the Ordre National du Québec.
Over the course of the new milennium, he was honoured with a large number of accolades for his contributions to the world of arts and culture throughout Canada, and the world: a SORIQ Award, a Herbert Whittaker Drama Bench Award, a Denise Pelletier Prize (the highest distinction awarded by the Quebec government in the performing arts field), the National Theatre School’s Gascon Thomas Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, a Stanislavski Award, the Prix Europe, the Governor General's Performing Arts Award, the Médaille de la ville de Québec, the 2012 Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT, the 2012 Prix de la Fondation de l’Opéra de Québec, the Académie des lettres du Québec Medal and the Tenth Glenn Gould Prize awarded by the Glenn Gould Foundation.
Arguably the most daring and innovative individual currently working in Canadian film and theatre, Robert Lepage remains uncompromising in his commitment to pushing the artistic envelope.