Albertine in Five Times
Translation: John Van Burek & Bill Glassco
Albertine in Five Times (Albertine en cinq temps) was first performed in 1985. The play features a small cast of Albertine at the ages of 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70, as well as her sister Madeline, whose age is not given but is presumably in her 30s. Madeline serves to facilitate the interactions between the five Albertines, who sometimes ignore each other, and sometimes communicate directly, although they do not approach each others' locations on stage.
Each Albertine expresses the joys and sorrows of her life at that particular moment, and each advises, warns, or encourages the others. Madeline consoles and scolds by turns, eventually turning inwards toward her own concerns.
The Black Notebook (Le Cahier Noir)
Translation: Sheila Fischman
The Black Notebook is the first of a trilogy featuring Celine Pouline, published in 2003. She is a waitress in 1960s Montreal, working in a greasy diner with a classic Quebecois menu - poutine, coleslaw, burgers, Shepard's Pie. The diner is located in area known as The Main, Montreal's main red-light district, and Celine works the night shift, serving drag queens, pimps, and hookers. The novel tells as much about her as her patrons, and the reader learns her secret and not-so-secret pains and delights. Her motto, at least at the beginning, is "even though".
As always with Tremblay, the monologues sometimes hinge on the absurd, while highlighting deeper truths.
Celine Poulin: I have no idea
what makes my mother's shepard's pie so runny.
Any other version I've eaten - at the homes of relatives or friends, at the restaurant - always held together; the three layers of ingredients - ground beef, corn, potatoes - perfectly recognizable and properly prepared and you served yourself a portion as you would a piece of pie or cake; my mother's though collapsed on your plate, looking more like leftover stew or spaghetti sauce that was too thick... One day when I was more fed up than usual, I had dared to say - probably trying to be funny - that it wasn't shepard's pie on my plate, it was a shepard's puddle, and I was punished for my crime of lese-majeste. Even my father had been mad at me. Because I'd had the nerve to break the truce, the tacit contract between us and my mother, which stipulated that the price of peace was a shepard's pie: that dish, runny or not, tasty or not, meant the beginning of a time of tranquility, and it was to be treated as a gift from the gods, period.
"All artists are liars" - Michel Tremblay
If you would like to read Michel Tremblay's works in more depth, please seek out one of the many pieces translated to English featured below:
Tales for Belated Drinkers
The City in the Egg
It's Your Turn, Laura Cadieux
The Heart Laid Bare
The Views Animated
Twelve Strokes of Drama: Stories
The Heart Broken
Some Night My Prince Will Come
The Phantom of Don Carlos
Forty-Four Minutes, Forty-Four Seconds
Bristol Hotel New York, NY
The Man who heard a Whistling Kettle
The Hole in the Wall
The Crossing Continent
The Crossing of the City
The Crossing Feelings
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant
Therese and Pierrette and the Little Hanging Angel
The Duchess and the Commoner
News from ?douard
The First Quarter of the Moon
A Thing of Beauty
The Black Notebook
The Red Notebook
The Blue Notebook
"Forever Yours, Marilou"
"The Sisters In-Law"
"Tomorrow Morning, Montreal Waits for Me"
"Hosanna and La Duchesse de Langeais"
"Hello There, Hello"
"The Heroes of my Childhood"
"Damn?e Manon, sacr?e Sandra"
"The Impromptu of Outremont"
"The Ancient Odours"
"Albertine in Five Times"
"The Boys of Quebec from the Government Inspector by Gogol"
"The Real World?"
"La Maison suspendue"
"Marcel Pursued by the Hounds"
"Solemn Mass for a Full Moon Summer"
"For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again"
"The Current Situation"
"Assorted Candy for the Theatre"
"Paradise at the end of your days"
"Pieces of useless lies"
The Sisters-in-Law (Les Belles-Soeurs)
Translation: John Van Burek & Bill Glassco
This play was first performed in 1968. In the original French, it was written not in standard French, but in "joual" - the rough French spoken by the working poor of Montreal. It features a cast of 15 working-class women: friends, sisters, and sisters-in-law, acting and speaking as working class women of their time. The woman are invited to Germaine's house to assist her in filling little booklets with prize stamps for freebie items, as she has just won a contest to receive 1 million such stamps. Each woman has a moment in the spotlight highlighting her troubles and thoughts. The women, ignorant, enslaved to the harsh Catholic dogma of mid 20th century Quebec, and despairing of their unequal status, proceed to gossip, bicker, and steal the stamps.
All of the characters can be found in later works by Tremblay, who frequently revisits characters and their troubles, discovering more about them at different points in their lives.
Voices of Canada: Michel Tremblay
The Open Air Museum wishes to kick-off its presentations with the famed Quebecois playwright and novelist, Michel Tremblay.
Born June 25, 1942 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, he has had a prolific career in theatre and books. He has said that nothing brings him more pride than to go and buy one of his own books, flip to the back, and scan the pages of "also by this author," exclaiming "I did that! I did that!". In childhood, he was quiet and considered somewhat odd, a prolific reader who asked too many questions. He has been openly gay since the 1960s, and his works frequently feature the lives of queers in Montreal's seemier districts.
His works are known for their honest portrayal of women, gay men, transvestites, and drag queens from Montreal's working and criminal classes. His early "Les Belles-Soeurs" was a tour-de-force not just for its use of joual, but for it's unabashed accuracy.
He continues to write to this day, primarily from his home in Biscayne Bay, Florida, USA.