Dalpé, Jean Marc

Jean Marc Dalpé, playwright, poet, novelist, translator, scriptwriter and actor (b at Ottawa, 21 Feb 1957). Dalpé received his BA in theatre arts from the University of Ottawa in 1976, and his graduate diploma from the Conservatoire d'art dramatique de Québec in 1979. The same year, his first volume of poetry, Les Murs de nos villages, was published by Éditions Prise de Parole in Sudbury and, with Robert Bellefeuille, Roch Castonguay and Lise L. Roy, he founded the Théâtre de la Vieille 17 in Rockland, a company in the Outaouais region of Ontario, dedicated to the development of théâtre de création (theatre of creation). La Vieille 17's first show, Les Murs de nos villages, was a great success. It transforms poetry into dramatic speech and demonstrates the facility with which Dalpé shifts from one genre to another, foreshadowing this back and forth movement that characterises the whole of his artistic production.

In 1982, Dalpé left Ottawa to become involved with the Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO) in Sudbury. With Brigitte Haentjens, he coauthored Hawkesbury Blues (1982) and Nickel (1984). Another play, Les Rogers (1985), was written in collaboration with Robert Marinier and Robert Bellefeuille. In poetry, the publication of Gens d'ici (1981) was followed by the collection Et d'ailleurs (1984). He wrote his first solo piece, Le Chien, in 1987. For the TNO, which was experiencing a boom, this was the most outstanding success of the decade. In 1988, Dalpé took part in the creation of the show Cris et Blues, and then wrote other works, namely Eddy/In the Ring (1994) and Lucky Lady (1995). Later, Dalpé was named professor of dramatic writing at the National Theatre School in Montréal. Around the same time, he received the Ordre des Francophones d'Amérique (1997) and put the finishing touches on his play Trick or Treat, which would appear later in the collection Il n'y a que l'amour. The Contes urbains d'Ottawa, short plays with strong dramatic tension, gained importance with Give the Lady a Break (Contes urban), Red voit Rouge (Contes d'appartenance) and Mercy (Contes sudburois). In 1999, a pivotal year, Dalpé published Il n'y a que l'amour, a collection of unmatched literary works including eight plays, three urban stories, a conference, poetry. He also gave birth to his first novel Un vent se lève qui éparpille. Since then, Dalpé has turned to writing for television: several episodes of the TV series "Fred-dy" (2001), a televised adaptation of "Trick or Treat", and in the autumn of 2004, another TV series "Temps dur". In 2006, he returned to dramatic writing with Août : Un repas à la campagne.

Dalpé's writings carried on the exploration the oral character of poetry started in the 1970s by André Paiement. The Governor General's Award for theatre in 1989 for Le Chien laid the foundation for theatre repertoire that was truly Franco-Ontarian. Ten years after the success of Le Chien, Dalpé amassed laurels at a staggering rate: a second Governor Genera's Award in theatre for Il n'y a que l'amour in 1999, and a third in French fiction for Un vent se lève qui éparpille, in 2000.

Dalpé's world is inhabited by workers, fallen soldiers, boxers, offenders, and mothers with families, all wounded by an unheeding fate. And yet, in spite of the great diversity of its forms, Dalpé's writings never deviate from his first preoccupation: to give a voice to the rejected and the destitute. Their hoarse, syncopated voices exude the deepest and most dramatic desires.