Fréchette, Carole

Carole Fréchette, actress, playwright, critic, novelist (b at Montréal 26 July 1949). Carole Fréchette, one of Canada's leading women playwrights, studied acting at the NATIONAL THEATRE SCHOOL before joining the Marxist feminist theatre collective le Théâtre des Cuisines in 1974. She worked with the group on the writing and staging of plays about abortion rights (Nous aurons les enfants que nous voulons, 1974) and women's domestic burdens (Môman travaille pas, a trop d'ouvrage, 1976, As-tu vu? Les maisons s'emportent!, 1981).

After le Théâtre des Cuisines broke up in 1981, Fréchette became involved in a variety of theatre activities in Montréal, writing for the journal Cahiers de théâtre Jeu and working with university theatre groups, the theatre section of the CANADA COUNCIL FOR THE ARTS, and the Centre des auteurs dramatiques. While completing a masters degree at l'Université du Québec à Montréal, she returned to playwriting with Baby Blues (1989), a play about a new mother wracked with doubts about her ability to balance her maternal duties with her roles as daughter, sister, wife, and career woman.

Carole Fréchette's next play, Les Quatre Morts de Marie (1998), won the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD and the Chalmers Prize. Poetic in style and non-realistic in structure, the play presents a woman at different stages in her life as she confronts the callousness, materialism, and disintegrating family structures of contemporary Québec society.

In a burst of creativity, Carol Fréchette wrote 5 plays between 1998 and 2002. All dramatize the moral and material distress of solitary individuals living in a world filled with social injustice, poverty, and political violence; love offers the possibility or the illusion of giving meaning to life. In La Peau d'Élisa (1999), Fréchette presents a woman who experiences passion vicariously through the erotic adventures of others. Experimenting with a playful postmodern structure in Les Sept Jours de Simon Labrosse (1999), Fréchette stages the unsuccessful attempts of a young man to find meaningful work in a society that dehumanizes individuals.

In the short piece Le Collier d'Hélène (2000), Carole Fréchette expresses her empathy for the Lebanese people, who suffered great losses during the country's violent civil war. Jean et Béatrice (2002) renews the dramatization of the quest for love: Béatrice offers a substantial reward to the man who can captivate her with his storytelling, move her to tears, and seduce her. Jean succeeds in passing the 3 tests, while the truth is that Beatrice is not the rich heiress she claims to be, but a lonely woman in search of love and a strong emotional experience. Violette sur la terre (2002), written specifically for audiences in the old mining regions of northern Ontario, Québec, and France, examines the loneliness and unhappiness of individuals who have difficulty communicating with others.

For her contribution to Canadian theatre, Fréchette received the prestigious Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Prize in 2002. While Québec theatre companies have been slow to stage her plays, productions in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Lebanon, Syria, New Brunswick, and Ontario have helped build her international reputation.

She has also written 2 novels for adolescents, Carmen en fugue mineure (1996) and Do pour Dolorès (1999), and 2 theatrical translations. Playwrights Canada Press published her Three Plays(The Four Lives of Marie, Seven Days in the Life of Simon Labrosse, and Élisa's Skin), translated by John MURRELL.