Dubois, René-Daniel

René-Daniel Dubois, playwright, actor and director (b 20 July 1955 at Montréal). Having trained as an actor in Montréal and Paris, he began writing for stage in 1979, his first play being Panique à Longueil (1980), an oneiric, highly literary work whose atmosphere and theme are reminiscent of Dante's Inferno. Ne blâmez jamais les Bédouins (1984) fascinated and puzzled audiences, winning the Governor General's Award for Drama that year. Using cinematic, melodramatic and cartoon techniques with some 20 different roles in several different languages and accents, all played by Dubois himself in the "solo" version (there is a full-cast version as well), the play represented a startling break with dramaturgy then current in Québec. It has since become established in Canadian repertory, frequently revived (most recently, in Montréal in November-December 1995) and is considered a touchstone for true acting talent.

Being at Home with Claude (1985) - the title is identical in English and French - was another major success, consecrating Dubois's status in the front rank of contemporary Québecois dramatists. Classical in construction, it is a compelling portrayal of idealized homosexual love taken to its absolute - in this case, murder of the loved one, to avoid subsequent debasement of one's ideal. A film version with the same title was released in 1992.

Dubois has since written a dozen plays, most of which have enjoyed considerable success, with none, however, attracting the critical and popular acclaim of the preceding 2. He has directed major productions for the Théâtre du Rideau Vert, L'Opéra de Chambre de Québec, Les Jeunesses Musicales du Canada and other companies, has acted in film and TV, and taught at the National Theatre School and the Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique. Dynamic and mercurial, he remains a controversial figure at the heart of modern Québec theatre.