Skip To Content

Athabasca University

Michel Tremblay

Michel Tremblay was born in Montreal in 1942. He studied graphic arts, and became a linotypist like his father and brother. Tremblay wrote his first play in 1959, Le train and with it won the Radio-Canada 1964 Young Authors' Competition. But it was his second play Les Belles-Soeurs (1968) that established Tremblay as one of the most important artists of the latter half of the 20th century in Quebec. Using "joual," the language of the working class of Montreal, Tremblay shone a spotlight onto a class of people rarely represented in Quebec theatre. Fourteen working class women congregate in one kitchen and what follows is a complex analysis of the social, sexual and political concerns of the time. Tremblay’s own childhood and family heavily influence the play. The play also marks the beginning of a cycle of plays all set on rue Fabre in Plateau Montreal and the Main, rue St-Laurent. Many of the characters from this play appear in other plays written later.

After writing more than six plays that feature the complex and sometimes hopeless lives of the characters from rue Fabre, Tremblay turned to novels. These are often referred to as his "Chroniques du Plateau Mont-Royal." He again uses characters from his plays, but because of the freedom of the novel, is able to examine the characters' personality and psyche more completely. The novels are also once again inspired by Tremblay’s childhood and life experiences. Himself a homosexual, Tremblay realistically and honestly portrays the difficulties and issues facing homosexuals. One particular gay character, Édouard, appears in over four works: La duchesse de Langeais (1969), La duchesse et le routurier (1982), Des nouvelles d’Édouard and La maison suspendue (1990).

Abandoning the semi-autobiographical format, Tremblay began writing memoirs and in 1998 produced Encore un fois, si vous permettez, a dramatic dialogue that takes place between Tremblay and his beloved mother. Michel Tremblay has been produced around the world and has been awarded the title of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France and the Prix David from Quebec for the body of his work. (Lee Skallerup)

Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning.