Tit-Coq, created in 1948, grew out of Fridolin. The drama of the bastard who did not want to leave bastards behind him, the unemployed conscript, the soldier sent to England who never really came home, contrasted in the play with vivid, moving tableaux of traditional family life. Tit-Coq triumphed in Canada (though it failed on Broadway) and inspired other playwrights. It dominated Gélinas's life for several years - revivals, tours, translations, films - but he worked briefly for TV, appeared in plays at the STRATFORD FESTIVAL and in 1957 founded La COMÉDIE-CANADIENNE, which he directed until 1972.
Gélinas's second play, Bousille et les justes (1959), is stronger and tougher than Tit-Coq. Another orphan, Bousille, is servant and scapegoat to a hypocritical and evil family of entrepreneurs, typical representatives of the class that rose to prominence during the Maurice DUPLESSIS regime. Hier, les enfants dansaient (1966) is a more conventional study of family tensions arising from Québec/Ottawa political tensions. Gélinas's last play, La Passion de Narcisse Mondoux (1987), is forgettable, but his first "revues,"Les Fridolinades, finally published from 1980 to 1988, appear frequently on stage and have been produced for television.
Gélinas was chairman of the CANADIAN FILM DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION from 1969 to 1978 and was co-president of the Groupe de travail sur le statut de l'artiste, created by the federal minister of communications in 1986. In 1969 he was the translator-adapter for George RYGA's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. He was a remarkable director of his own shows from the 1940s on, and a born writer for and about the theatre. Gélinas worked within a popular cultural tradition and transformed it.
One of his daughters, Anne-Marie Sicotte, published a biography called Gratien Gélinas. La Ferveur et le doute (2 vol., 1995, 1996), revised and abridged in Gratien Gélinas du Naïf Fridolin à l'ombrageux Tit-Coq (2001).
Author LAURENT MAILHOT
Links to Other Sites
Centre des auteurs dramatiques
CEAD is a centre for the development and promotion of new Québec and French-Canadian plays. Check out their member profiles and catalogue of works that have been translated into English.
A profile of Gratien Gélinas, considered to be "one of the founders of modern Canadian theatre and film." From the website for Library and Archives Canada.
Portrait of Gratien Gélinas, playwright, producer, actor and director Gratien Gélinas. From the website for the Portrait Gallery of Canada.