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Analysis of Michel Tremblay’s Plays

Michel Tremblay (born 25 June 1942) is part of a new generation of playwrights that emerged in Quebec during the 1960’s and 1970’s, a time of profound political and cultural change for this province. Led by Tremblay, these writers saw as their primary task the liberation of Quebec culture from the shackles of foreign domination. With very few exceptions, the theater of Quebec to the mid-twentieth century had never treated issues genuinely French-Canadian; it was a theater enslaved to the thematic, stylistic, and linguistic control of “mother” France. With the opening of Tremblay’s Les Bellessoeurs, at the Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montreal on August 28, 1968, a new and autonomous Québécois theater was born.

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Significant partly for its thematic focus on the realities of the working class of Quebec, Les Belles-soeurs is the first play to be written in the distinctive French of Tremblay’s people–joual. A peculiar mixture of Anglicanisms, Old French, neologisms, and standard French, joual (from the Québécois pronunciation of the French word cheval) is the popular idiom of Quebec and especially of Montreal’s working class. To the French and to Quebec’s cultural elite, joual was a bastard tongue, emphasizing the pitiful nature of Quebec culture. To Tremblay, however, joual was a symbol of identity, a language not to be silenced but to be celebrated for its richness and for its distinctive flavor. To discuss Tremblay’s greatest achievements is thus not simply to focus on the fact that he has become Canada’s leading playwright, that his enormous creative output in the areas of theater, literature, film, and television has won for him international fame, that he has influenced the development of Canadian drama, and that he has won countless awards for his work. Though all of this is true, it is also important to recognize him as a cultural leader with a commitment to articulate and grapple with the problems of an oppressed community.

Antecedents in the history of dramatic literature help to characterize the plays of Michel Tremblay. The playwright himself cites as most influential the ancient Greek tragedians on one hand and Samuel Beckett on the other. The influence of the ancient playwrights shows itself most notably in Tremblay’s repeated use of choruses and in the rhythmic precision of his work. Indeed, much of his theatrical power stems from a native musical sensibility that informs the structure of his plays. Like the Greeks, Tremblay writes dramatic pieces that operate, at least in part, as rhythmic scores for performance; his plays abound with overlapping voices and interwoven monologues, and possess a rhythm so peculiar to the language and intonations of the Québécois that there is often as much power in how his characters speak as there is in what they say.

Beckett’s influence on Tremblay manifests itself in the specific context in which Tremblay places his characters and in the way those characters grapple with the struggles of life. Tremblay celebrates the notion that, despite the seeming despair of Beckett’s figures, there is a beauty in their struggle to face and accept their lives: “I never read or see a Beckett play without experiencing a lift.” His appreciation of Beckett is significant; although Tremblay’s characters seem trapped in the underbelly of culture, in seedy nightclubs, confined apartments, in a world of whores, pimps, and transvestites, or trapped even in their own social roles and family relationships, still there is a sense of uplift in their struggles and in the courage they find in themselves.

Les Belles-soeurs

Stylistically, Tremblay’s dramas are eclectic, not only when looked at as a body of work, but also within single plays. In Les Belles-soeurs, for example, he creates a realistic setting, utilizes realistic dialogue, and then counters that realism with stylized elements reminiscent of the Theater of the Absurd. The premise of the play is simple: Fifteen women of the neighborhood gather to help Germaine Lauzon paste a million Blue Chip stamps in booklets for a contest she has won. The women of the title (“the sisters-in-law” or “the beautiful sisters,” an ambiguity in French that accounts for the original title maintained in translation) gossip as they paste. When Germaine is not looking, however, the women secretly steal the stamps. This ostensible, realistic line of the story unfolds in a dynamic relationship with stylized, isolated monologues spoken by the women to express the more honest, individual problems of their miserable, trapped lives: Marriage, family, and sex—the basis of their worlds—have achieved a level of banality that seems to reduce all of life to sheer endurance.

Perhaps the clearest example of the juxtaposition of styles comes at the end of the play. Germaine discovers the thieves, throws them out of her home, and feels a profound sense of loneliness and isolation. She falls to her knees to pick up the stamps that scattered on the floor during the chaos of discovering the theft. At that moment, Tremblay breaks out of the realistic structure once again. From off stage the women begin to sing a chorus of “O Canada,” while simultaneously a rain of stamps falls from the ceiling. The stylized “shower” of prosperity is parallel to Germaine’s windfall of stamps at the beginning of the play. Yet the playwright creates his final image as a selfconsciously artificial construct, an image that contrasts with the conventionally realistic form used at the outset. Like a Euripidean deus ex machina, Tremblay’s rain of stamps is a theatrical joke; humanity is in turmoil and has reached an impasse within the realistic conventions of the play. The playwright’s ending undercuts that impasse, however, and, with a broad satirical gesture, he clarifies the source of the problem itself; the values of the Canadian middle class have their price.

The Family Cycle

The body of Tremblay’s dramatic work possesses a remarkable consistency both in theme and in focus. His dramatis personae are the underprivileged, the people on the fringe of society, people who live in disguise. His plays also have a striking similarity of context; indeed, in the bulk of his work, he examines two specific worlds. On one hand, he looks at the family, at the home, and at the nature of the individual within the family construct. On the other hand, he looks to a horrifying world external to the family: the world of the Main inMontreal, with its host of transvestites, whores, and pimps, all set against a backdrop of “gambling joints, cabarets, lights and noise.” In the words of André Brassard, “The Main is the Kingdom of the marginals . . . the underprivileged and forgotten part of the proletariat . . . the underlayer of society.” The Tremblay opus can thus be examined to a large degree in two major cycles: the family cycle and the Main cycle. The two worlds do intersect at points, creating a potent juxtaposition. Indeed, when considered as a whole, Tremblay’s work is interesting not only because of his investigation into these two separate worlds but also because of his ability to show how those worlds mirror each other. In effect, the two cycles intersect to illuminate the “family” of the Main and the “underbelly” of the home.

Like Death Warmed Over

Like Death Warmed Over, the first play of the family cycle, was actually written, in its original version, before Les Belles-soeurs but published and performed at a later date. It unfolds in four loosely connected episodes. The play begins in the inner courtyard of an east-end Montreal tenement on a sweltering summer afternoon. For the chorus of neighbors, the single point of interest is the window across the way—the home of Robertine, her daughter Hélène, Hélène’s husband, Henri, and their daughter Francine. The neighbors are fascinated with the peculiar and unsavory domestic battles in Robertine’s home. They offer a detailed description of the troubled family and its history as they wait for Hélène to come home, for the “show” of the evening to begin.

The middle two episodes tell the story of Hélène, how she spends her time slinging smoked meat in a cheap restaurant on Papineau Street after having lost her job in a bar on the Main. She gets drunk, returns to the bar, only to have the frustrations of her life become that much more glaring as she confronts the figures of her past. The final episode takes place back in Robertine’s living room. Hélène comes home, verbally abuses Henri (who spends all of his time watching cartoons on television) and Robertine, and gives the neighbors the “show” for which they have waited. Toward the end, Claude, the retarded brother, returns home for a visit after escaping from his sanatorium. He wears “sunglasses and speaks English” and believes that doing so gives him ultimate power: It makes him invisible. In Tremblay’s world, the madman overturns his alienation to make it an illusory source of strength. Claude’s presence thus provides a sharp contrast to the feeling of humiliation and powerlessness among the other members of the family. Typically, the play ends in a series of stylized monologues in which the family members express their despair. They repeat a refrain in unison during this final section, a refrain that sums up their despondency and languor: “There’s not a goddamn thing I can do.”

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Forever Yours, Marie-Lou

Although Like Death Warmed Over is a play about failure and ultimate despair in family relationships, Tremblay’s next play in the family cycle, Forever Yours, Marie-Lou, presents the attempt of two sisters, Carmen and Manon, to find refuge from the traumas of family life. In this play, two conversations transpire simultaneously, one between Marie-Louise and her husband, Leopold, and the other between their daughters Carmen and Manon. The two conversations take place in the family home, but ten years apart. Carmen and Manon (in the 1970’s) recall the past, ten years earlier, when their parents and younger brother Roger died in a car accident. Manon, a religious zealot, believes her father Leopold was responsible for the accident, an act of suicide and filial murder. Carmen denies this account, although her rejection is undermined when Leopold (in the action of the 1960’s) threatens Marie- Louise with that very scenario.

Structurally, the play is a quartet of interweaving voices as each level of action comments on the other through a powerful theatrical juxtaposition. Each character has complaints about the others, each feels abused, each feels as if life has dealt him or her an unfair blow. In the turbulence of the marriage, Marie-Louise turns to religion and Leopold to his drinking and television. The daughters, too, have their share of trouble, not only as products of their repressive and abusive home but also as individuals who must cope with the tragic past. Carmen has turned to the Main and to singing in cabarets. Manon has, on the other hand, withdrawn entirely into a lonely life of religious fanaticism. The two women have clearly gone in opposite directions, but it is evident that they are both striving to find shelter from the traumas of the family.

While Marie-Louise and Manon hide in an existence of religious repression, and Leopold in an escape into alcohol and boredom that finally erupts in the violence of murder and suicide, Carmen achieves a degree of liberation from her repressive past. This is evident only when one realizes that the core of Tremblay’s play is the collision of real human needs with the religious and social constructs that make the fulfillment of those needs impossible. That Carmen turns to the Main is perhaps only a limited alternative, another subculture with its own restrictions. Yet, within the context of the play, Carmen’s choice is the most fruitful; she has at least discovered a part of herself that opens the way toward personal creativity. This notion is the center of the play in which she next appears: Saint Carmen of the Main, a play in which issues of the family and the Main intersect in a subtle but provocative way.

Saint Carmen of the Main

In this later play, Carmen is returning from a stay in Nashville, where she has been sent to improve her yodeling technique; the play opens with the chorus (the people of the Main) celebrating her return. Indeed, her education away from the Main was more than simply a time to improve technique: Carmen comes back as a leader of the people, as their voice; it is a voice expressed through her new lyrics and songs that relate directly to the concerns of the community. Carmen’s journey from repression to release is a model of realized human potential and gives her strength to speak for others. Despite the ecstasy of the people over their newfound leader, however, Carmen must face her antagonists: the cabaret owner Maurice, who wants her to sing the “old songs,” and Carmen’s rival, Gloria, who fights for her “rightful place.” When he challenges Carmen, Maurice articulates the political question of the play, a question that perhaps haunts the playwright himself: “All right. Let’s say they take our advice. Let’s say they smarten up, they wake up and they get mad. Then what? It’s fine to wake people up, but once they’re awake, what do you do with them?”

Shortly after her performance at the cabaret, Carmen is brutally murdered; she is denounced as a lesbian so that the crime may be pinned on her innocent dresser, Harelip. “The lights go out completely on the Choruses”; the sun is down, the fire of awakening quelled. This is a play about the possibility of awakening, of fighting repression, of the change that can come about when human beings are acknowledged for their strengths. Carmen has found that strength within herself and is a beacon for the people. Yet the figures of the status quo—threatened for reasons both political and financial— end the triumph of humanity that lit the world for an instant.

Bonjour, là, bonjour

If in the story of Carmen, Tremblay suggests that personal strength can come only from a freedom discovered outside the repressive home, then in Bonjour, là, bonjour, he explores the act of personal acceptance within the family itself. Again, this play is inspired by musical principles; there are thirty-one sections entitled “solo,” “duo,” “trio,” and so forth, up to “octuor,” depending on the number of voices involved in a given episode.

The central figure in Bonjour, là, bonjour, Serge, is a young man who has just returned from a three-month stay in Paris, where he has tried to deal with his love for his sister Nicole. Though the odds are against him, Serge breaks through the oppressive structures of his family life to assert his integrity and express his love both to Nicole and to his aging and deaf father, Gabriel. Serge must defend himself against the invasion of his relatives (two spinster aunts and three sisters other than Nicole), who try to use his vitality to serve their needs. Once he sees past moral taboo to admit fully his incestuous love, he is able to triumph and communicate with his father. Like Carmen, in her relationship to the people of the Main, Serge becomes a figure who releases his father from a suffocating life. He invites his father to live with him and Nicole and, in the end, finds the strength to shout the words “I love you” into Gabriel’s deaf ears.

The Main Cycle

The plays of the family cycle are clearly parables of the political and cultural repression Tremblay sees within Quebec culture. Like Tremblay’s characters, the Québécois must begin a long journey to self-acceptance. Still, there is another “family” Tremblay explores: the family of the Main. In the Main cycle, he focuses on the individual desperately trying to find himself in a chaotic and frightening world, a world in which the search for identity is no less difficult, nor alienation less painful, than it is within the home. Perhaps most indicative of his concern is the recurring transvestite figure, whose multiple personas epitomize the alienation of the individual in the Main.

Tremblay began his investigation of the Main in three short plays written early in his career: Berthe, Johnny Mangano and His Astonishing Dogs, and Gloria Star. The three plays function as a trilogy and were originally part of the collection entitled Cinq, written in 1966. The trilogy examines the individual’s alienation from the self by focusing on the collision of one’s dreams and fantasies of fame and glory with the stark realities of a boring and desperate life. Tremblay once again works toward a stylized ending to the trilogy in which he communicates how dreams of success and perfection are the offspring of artifice; the playwright makes this abundantly clear in a surrealistic conclusion of theatrical make-believe.

La Duchesse de Langeais

La Duchesse de Langeais, a piece in which the past of an aging transvestite unravels in monologue, is the next play of the Main cycle and represents Tremblay’s first treatment of this sexually complex figure. The Duchesse is a human being who is desperately alone. She speaks of how she became the Duchesse, “the biggest faggot ever,” how she envisions herself as a “woman of the world,” how she spent her life whoring for hundreds of men, how she was sexually abused as a child by her cousin Leopold (later to appear in Forever Yours, Marie-Lou), and how she entered a life of obsessive sexual activity from the age of six.

The theme of alienation operates on many levels in La Duchesse de Langeais. She is a transvestite locked in a sexually ambiguous role. She is aware of her age and feels a frightening sense of attenuation in her life. She has a history of being a female impersonator, trapped in a Pirandellian disparity between the roles performed and the actress/ actor underneath. Yet the monologue itself attests her alienation in a more immediate way. Is there any possibility of verifying the past she describes? Is she merely creating a fiction for the audience? Is she creating the fiction for herself? Indeed, reality and illusion are so disconnected in this play that it is impossible to verify much. Tremblay (the primary illusion-maker) communicates through this onslaught of unverifiable information the pain and suffering that accompanies the life of one lost in a labyrinth of insubstantiality and artifice.

Hosanna

Hosanna, on the other hand, probes deeper into the tensions of the multiple roles of the transvestite and female impersonator. The play takes place in the early hours of the morning in the confined and oppressive apartment of Hosanna, a transvestite whose original name is Claude, and “her” lover Cuirette (“Leatherette” in French, but also suggesting the English “Queerette”), whose original name is Raymond. Hosanna has returned from a night of humiliation and ridicule, a night that will ultimately lead her to a painful acceptance of self.

Hosanna and Cuirette represent two extremes. The former is a highly effeminate drag queen whose excessive perfume, makeup, jewels, and clothing constitute her mask. The latter is a “leather-man,” who has grown too fat for the clothes that once expressed his exaggerated machismo image; nevertheless, his leather jacket, motorcycle, and tough persona are all the accoutrements through which he defines himself. The first act deals with the tensions and collisions of the relationship, the inability of the two individuals to recognize each other’s needs and, more important, to recognize and accept themselves for who they are. When the second act begins, Hosanna is alone; she tells the story of how the people of the cabaret (including the Duchesse) played a practical joke on her, how they faked plans for a costume party for which they were all to dress as famous women in history. For weeks, Hosanna prepares her role as Elizabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra; when she arrives, however, everyone at the club is dressed in a Cleopatra costume—“Everyone made up better than me!” She tries to keep her composure, even through the taunting repetition of the chant that haunts the audience as much as Hosanna herself: “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna, Ho!”

The event is enough to shock Hosanna into a state of self-reflection and to force her to confront the mask she wears. Cuirette, who is absent for most of the second act in a frustrated sexual escapade, and who had been privy to the joke played on Hosanna, returns home to shed his own mask and to be with the one he loves. It is, thus, Raymond and Claude present at the last moment of the play, not Cuirette and Hosanna. In the end, Tremblay shows two human beings who have begun the difficult journey involved with the abandonment of self-hatred. Raymond and Claude must accept who they are, together and as individuals.

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Damnée Manon, Sacrée Sandra

The theme of reconciliation with the self dominant in the Main cycle is also at the core of Damnée Manon, Sacrée Sandra. (The literal English translation would be “doomed Manon, holy Sandra,” but is finally inadequate because of the ambiguous implication of sacrée in French, a word with meanings both sacred and profane. Indeed, this ambiguity is precisely what this conceptually complex piece is about.) Manon, the religious sister from Forever Yours, Marie-Lou, and Sandra, the transvestite cabaret owner from Hosanna, are the characters of the drama. Tremblay again creates a double action by juxtaposing two monologues. The double action eventually moves to a single point that articulates the place in which the sacred and profane meet. Moreover, the play ends with the kind of theatrical self-consciousness that informs much of the playwright’s work: Both characters realize that they are the invention of the same author. As Manon comes to recognize the erotic nature of her religious devotion and Sandra the obsessive religiosity of her sexual escapades, the playwright himself seems to imply a reconciliation of seeming opposites within himself. He is the creator of both characters; indeed, as an individual, he, too, embodies both the sacred and profane.

The Impromptu of Outrement

Tremblay wrote three major plays after 1979: The Impromptu of Outrement, Remember Me, and Albertine in Five Times. In these plays, he plucks his characters out of the Main and places them back in a domestic context. In The Impromptu of Outrement, Tremblay presents four sisters who were brought up in a middle-class Montreal suburb, Outrement, and who are meeting for the occasion of Yvette’s birthday. The party has become an annual custom, a time for a little “impromptu.” The real purpose of their meeting, however, is to have a chance to lash out against one another, to complain about one another’s lives, to scream about one another’s failures and life choices. Ultimately, however, it is an occasion when they feel disgust with who they are; the sisters mirror to one another what they deem ugliest in themselves. The play is Tremblay’s version of Anton Chekhov’s Tri sestry (pr., pb. 1901, revised pb. 1904; The Three Sisters, 1920), a work that explores the torture of languishing potentiality, of the trap of the middle class, of unrealized dreams and bourgeois isolation.

Remember Me

Remember Me examines two men who are meeting long after the end of their relationship of seven years. Each man has continued with his career and with other relationships; each, however, feels the burden of his own mediocrity and a profound discontent with life. Like The Impromptu of Outrement, therefore, Remember Me centers on the individual who feels disenfranchised from his own potential; both plays demonstrate how middle-class promise quickly turns to mundane routine. In addition, by focusing on four women in one play, and two homosexual men in the other, Tremblay makes a clear statement about the frustrations minorities feel with the false promises of acceptance in bourgeois society.

Albertine in Five Times

Albertine in Five Times is a play about the life of one woman at five different points in her life. Tremblay presents the fragmented individual in many of his dramas, but this time he exploits his art to realize all pieces simultaneously. In this play, Tremblay pursues his preoccupation with self-alienation by grappling with the problem of the ever-changing self in time; as in Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape (pr., pb. 1958), Albertine in Five Times creates a picture of the individual estranged from the past and from the self that has emerged over time. Nevertheless, the play provides a moving portrait of the stages of one woman’s struggle. Like so many of Tremblay’s characters, Albertine, though desperate, does struggle; the search for identity is the most challenging task for any individual. Tremblay celebrates the courage of his characters, and of the Québécois themselves; he celebrates their strength to look at themselves and begin the long journey to freedom.

The Real World?

Almost all Tremblay’s plays since the mid-1980’s have to do, in one way or another, with the family—in particular, how troubled characters fit into their families and how members of those families respond to threat from within or without. Another important theme in the plays of this period is artistic creation—its sources and its problems. The Real World? focuses on both of these concerns.

This piece deals with a young playwright whose first drama features characters named after his father, mother, and sister—the sources of his inspiration. As the play’s characters look more and more like their models, Claude, the writer, is troubled by what he is doing. He wonders if he has the right to plunder his private life and to invade the lives of his family members in order to create. And, as the title suggests, where does a writer draw the line between what is fact and what is imagined? Clearly, this subject is of importance to Tremblay, and he has said that he and Claude have shared the same concerns.

La Maison suspendue

La Maison suspendue presents a couple, Jean-Marc and Mathieu, who come to spend a summer vacation with Mathieu’s son, Sébastien, in a log cabin in the LaurentianMountains. The cabin has been in Jean-Marc’s family for three generations, and when he opens the front door, he takes off on a discovery of his roots. The couple finds that the cabin contains vibrations of fiddler-tale teller Josaphat-leviolon who had a son by his sister, Victoire. In 1950, the home witnesses the trials of Edouard, who fantasizes his ambiguous sexuality while living with his sister, Albertine, who rejects such fantasies. Jean-Marc, who has had to deal with his own sexual identity, reconciles his identity and his new family with the figures from the past.

Marcel Pursued by the Hounds

In Marcel Pursued by the Hounds, the protagonist is fifteen-year-old Marcel—who is subject to hallucinations that suspend him between dream and reality. He hopes to makes things better by living with his sister, Thérèse, but it may be too late: He seems hopelessly trapped by imagination, even madness. The play is a form of dialogue between Marcel and Thérèse, in which other characters constitute a kind of Greek-tragedy chorus. The ultimate point is the extent to which people’s childhood games and fantasies come back to haunt them in their adult lives— which are full of the dangers and cruel realities that people did not recognize when they were children.

Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer

The form of Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer resembles that of Marcel Pursued by the Hounds. The title of this play is an accurate one: Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer is an incantatory rite, in which the voices of the characters—Isabelle, Yannick, Jeannine, Louise, Rose, Mathieu, Gaston, Mireille, Yvon, Gérard, and the Widow—mingle in a liturgical drama. All the characters complain about their lives, yet they try hard to not succumb to bitterness. Instead, they long for some kind of self-liberation—and when the summer moon appears, a solution, hope, and consolation seem possible.

For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again

For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again is a short play but one of Tremblay’s most moving works. It is an extended conversation between the Narrator (a stand-in for Tremblay himself) and Nana (who represents the playwright’s late mother). The play contains wonderfully funny reminiscences by both the Narrator and his mother—about growing up inMontreal and Saskatchewan, about oddball family members, about Tremblay’s choice of career and his mother’s ambivalent attitude toward the latter. However, the tone takes a deeply somber turn near the play’s end, when Nana tells about the cancer that she carried for a time, the pain, and her death. The finale features an angel descending to take Nana to Heaven.

L’État des lieux

L’État des lieux is, on one hand, a riotous comedy and on the other, an investigation into such subjects as aging, failure, and artistic energy. It all begins when soprano Patricia Pasquetti has a crisis during the final scene of Richard Strauss’s Salome. Before a packed house, Patricia hits a grotesquely false note. It is not surprising that Patricia’s life starts to fall apart. Through the sympathetic eyes of her longtime accompanist, the audience sees Patricia struggle for a while in Paris before returning home to Quebec’s L’Ile des Soeurs. Once she gets home, Patricia takes out her disappointment on her daughter, who is an actress.Mother accuses daughter of lacking creative élan. However, Patricia’s own mother—another actress—intervenes. She knows firsthand how artists decline with age—but she also knows the immense power of artistic freedom that transcends aging.

Principal drama
Le Train, pr. 1964 (televised), pb. 1990; Cinq, pr. 1966, pb. 1971 (English translation, 1976; includes Berthe, Johnny Mangano and His Astonishing Dogs, and Gloria Star); Les Belles-soeurs, pr., pb. 1968 (English translation, 1973; also as The Guid Sisters, 1988); En pièces détachées, pr. 1969, pb. 1970 (revision of Cinq; Like Death Warmed Over, 1973; also as Broken Pieces and Montreal Smoked Meat); La Duchesse de Langeais, pr. 1969, pb. 1970 (English translation, 1976); Demain matin, Montréal m’attend, pr. 1970, pb. 1972 (musical); À toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lòu, pr., pb. 1971 (Forever Yours, Marie- Lou, 1972); Les Paons, pr. 1971; Hosanna, pr., pb. 1973 (English translation, 1974); Bonjour, là, bonjour, pr., pb. 1974 (English translation, 1975); Surprise! Surprise!, pr. 1975, pb. 1977 (English translation, 1976); La Duchesse de Langeais, and Other Plays, pb. 1976 (includes La Duchesse de Langeais, Berthe, Johnny Mangano and His Astonishing Dogs, Gloria Star, and Surprise! Surprise! ); Les Héros de mon enfance, pr., pb. 1976 (musical; music by Sylvain Lelièvre); Sainte-Carmen de la Main, pr., pb. 1976 (Saint Carmen of the Main, 1978); Damnée Manon, Sacrée Sandra, pr., pb. 1977 (English translation, 1979); Les Socles, pb. 1979 (The Pedestals, 1979); L’Impromptu d’Outrement, pr., pb. 1980 (The Impromptu of Outrement, 1981); Les Anciennes Odeurs, pr., pb. 1981 (Remember Me, 1984); Albertine en cinq temps, pr. 1985, pb. 1986 (Albertine in Five Times, 1986); Le Vrai Monde?, pr., pb. 1987 (The Real World?, 1988); La Maison suspendue, pr., pb. 1990; Nelligan, pr., pb. 1990 (libretto; music by Andre Gagnon); Théâtre: Volume 1, pb. 1991; Marcel poursuivi par les chiens, pr., pb. 1992 (Marcel Pursued by the Hounds, 1992); En circuit fermé, pb. 1994; Messe solenelle pour une pleine lune d’été, pr., pb. 1996 (Solemn Mass for a Full Moon in Summer, 2000); Encore une fois, si vous le permettez, pr., pb. 1998 (For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again, 1998); L’État des lieux, pr., pb. 2002.

Other major works
Long fiction: La Cité dans l’oeuf, 1969 (The City in the Egg, 1999); C’t’à ton tour, Laura Cadieux, 1973; Le Coeur découvert, 1986 (The Heart Laid Bare, 1989; also as Making Room, 1990); Le Coeur éclaté, 1993; La Nuit des princes charmants, 1995; Quarante-quatre minutes, quarante-quatre secondes, 1997; Hotel Bristol: New York, NY, 1999; Chroniques du Plateau- Mont-Royal, 2000 (series of six novels including: La Grosse Femme d’à côté est enceinte, 1978 [The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant, 1981]; Thérèse et Pierrette à l’École des saintesanges, 1980 [Thérèse and Pierrette and the Little Hanging Angel, 1984]; La Duchesse et le roturier 1982 [The Duchess and the Commoner, 1999]; Le Premier Quartier de la lune, 1989 [The First Quarter of the Moon, 1994]; Des nouveles d’Édouard, 1984 [News from Edouard, 2000]; and Un Objet de beauté, 1997 [A Thing of Beauty, 1998]); L’Homme qui entendait siffler une bouilloire, 2001.
Short fiction: Contes pour buveurs attardés, 1966 (Stories for Late Night Drinkers, 1978); Manoua, 1966.
Screenplays: Françoise Durocher, Waitress, 1971; Backyard Theatre, 1972; Il était une fois dans l’est, 1974; Parlez-nous d’amour, 1974.
Teleplays: Trois Petits Tours, 1969; En pièces détachées, 1971; Le Soleil se lève en retard, 1975; Bonheur d’occasion, 1977; Les Belles-soeurs, 1978.
Nonfiction: Douze coups de théâtre, 1992 (memoir; Twelve Opening Acts, 2002); Un Ange cornu avec des ailes de tôle, 1994 (memoir); Les Vues animées, 1995 (memoir; Bambi and Me, 1998); Pièces à conviction: Entretiens avec Michel Tremblay, 2001 (interviews).
Translations: Lysistrata, 1964 (of Aristophanes’ play); L’Effet des rayons gamma sur les vieux garçons, 1970 (of Paul Zindel’s play The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds); Et Madame Roberge boit un peu, 1971 (of Paul Zindel’s play And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little); Mistero buffo, 1973 (of Dario Fo’s play); Mademoiselle Marguerite, 1975 (of Roberto Athayde’s play Apareceu a Margarida); Oncle Vania, 1983 (with Kim Yaroshevskaya; of Anton Chekhov’s play); Le Gars de Quebec, 1985 (of Nikolai Gogol’s play Revizor).

Bibliography
Anthony, G., ed. Stage Voices: Twelve Canadian Playwrights Talk About Their Lives and Work. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1978.
David, Gilbert, and Pierre Lavoie, eds. Le Monde de Michel Tremblay. Montreal: Cahiers de Théâtre Jeu, 1993.
Godin, Jean-Cléo, and Laurent Mailhot, eds. Théâtre Québecois II. Montreal: Bibliothèque Québecoise, 1988.
Massey, Irving. Identity and Community: Reflections on English, Yiddish, and French Literature in Canada. Detroit, Mich.: Wayne State University Press, 1994.
Usmiani, Renate. Michel Tremblay. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1982.
_______. The Theatre of Frustration: Super Realism in the Dramatic Work of F. X. Kroetz and Michel Tremblay. New York: Garland, 1990.

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Categories: Canadian Literature, Drama Criticism, Literary Criticism, Literary Theory, Literature, Theatre Studies

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