Le Train was produced again at the Théâtre de la Place Ville-Marie between 1965 and 1968. The Mouvement contemporain presented excerpts from Contes pour buveurs attardés and the Patriote mounted Cinq (original version of En pièces détachées) in December 1966. In 1968 Tremblay went to Mexico on a Canada Council grant and wrote La Cité dans l'oeuf, a fantasy novel, and La Duchesse de Langeais, a one-character play about the loves and disillusionments of an old transvestite. After a public reading of Les Belles-Soeurs on 4 March 1968 by the Centre d'essai des auteurs dramatiques, the play was produced on 28 August 1968 by André Brassard, who has continued to stage virtually all productions and revivals of Tremblay's work.
Les Belles-Soeurs, written in the street language JOUAL, offered a transformed vision of the working-class neighbourhood where the author was born. In 1987 his Le Vrai Monde, his 19th play in as many years, premiered and was hailed as his greatest work. In 1990 the performance of his opera, Nelligan (written in collaboration with musician André GAGNON), added significantly to his reputation. Critics have included him in the theatre of realism, but his frequent use of antirealistic devices (chorus, flashback) and of fringe characters shows he is not following predecessors Gratien GÉLINAS, Marcel DUBÉ, Françoise LORANGER and Jacques LANGUIRAND.
Tremblay has also written musical comedies, has translated and adapted many American and other authors, and is a scriptwriter and songwriter. His many outstanding plays include: À toi pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou (1971), winner of the Chalmers award; Damnée Manon, Sacrée Sandra (1977); Albertine en cinq temps (1984), considered by many to be his best play; La Maison suspendue (1990); Messe solonnelle pour une pleine lune d'été (1996); Encore un peu si vous le permettez (1998) and L'état des lieux (1998). His plays have been translated into many languages, and Les Belles-Soeurs has been especially popular in its Scots-English version, The Guid Sisters (1991); in the Yiddish version, Di Shvegerius (1992); and in Italian.
Concentration on Fiction
Since the mid-1980s Tremblay has concentrated mainly on fiction. The first three novels of his Plateau Mont-Royal series explored the same world as his plays. Two volumes of largely autobiographical stories, Les Vues animées and Douze coups de théâtre, appeared in 1990 and 1992. Next came Le coeur éclaté (1993), the narrative Un ange cornu avec des ailes en tôle (1995), Quarante quatre minutes quarante quatre secondes (1997), Un objet de beauté (1997), Hôtel Bristol (1999) and L'homme qui entendait siffler une bouilloire (2001), based on Tremblay's own experiences with tinnitus. He has since completed Bonbons assortis (2002), Le cahier noir (2003), Le cahier rouge (2004), Le trou dans le mur (2006) and most recently La traversée du continent (2007), a tribute to his mother and her lone voyage at the young age of 11 by train from Saskatchewan to Québec. He has also written and contributed to the screenplays of numerous films including Françoise Durocher, Waitress (1972), Il était une fois dans l'Est (1973), Parlez-nous d'amour (1976), Le soleil se lève en retard (1977) and C'ta ton tour Laura Cadieux (1998). Tremblay has won many prizes and distinctions, including the prix Victor-Morin in 1974, the Lieutenant-Governor's award for Ontario in 1976 and 1977 and the Governor General's Award in 1999. In 1991 he was appointed Officier de l'Ordre de France and, in the same year, Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Québec.
Author PIERRE LAVOIE, revised: MYRIAM FONTAINE
Links to Other Sites
An online exhibition of documents about some of Canada's most celebrated writers. From the Literary Manuscripts Collection of Library and Archives Canada.
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 multitalented playwright and novelist Michel Tremblay. From the Encyclopedia of Canadian Theatre.
Biographical notes about Michel Tremblay, as well as lists of plays, translations, adaptations, and much more. From the website for Agence Goodwin.
Michel Tremblay: Manuscript Gallery
Click on a title to see all related images. From Library and Archives Canada.
A brief history of "Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui" from the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia.
Three decades of success
In this CBC Radio clip, Michel Tremblay talks to Eleanor Wachtel about his mother's influence on his writing career and his hit play "For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again."