In Québec City: the Universe of Michel Tremblay
While René Richard Cyr’s production of Les Belles-Sœurs took the stage in Paris, another event on this side of the Atlantic will be putting the spotlight on the remarkable work of Michel Tremblay, internationally renowned writer and ambassador for Québec for the last four decades. The Museum of Civilisation in Québec City displays their exhibit: “The Universe of Michel Tremblay” to Oct 14.
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The idea to highlight the career of Michel Tremblay is one that came from within the Museum’s staff, and has been entirely produced by the institution in Québec City. With Tremblay, famous author of homosexual favourites La Nuit des princes charmants and Hosanna, celebrating his 70th birthday this year, it seemed the ideal moment to pay homage to him.
The exhibit is also part of a series dedicated to important figures from Québec’s history and culture. In a few months, the museum will be celebrating the career of Claude Gauvreau, playwright and poet, best known for his play Les oranges sont vertes.
When asked about the museum’s approach, Lise Bertrand, who conceived the exhibit, explains: “At first, the museum had the idea of putting emphasis on the objects that have been linked with the works of Tremblay. In the end, the team decided to go with a more modern concept.” The result is an immense video installation made from archival footage.
Attracting a younger crowd
Visitors can watch different interviews with Michel Tremblay, as well as clips from films, songs, stage performances, interviews with close collaborators, etc. Rita Lafontaine, Denise Filiatrault and René Richard Cyr are among the artists interviewed for the exhibit. Certain texts will also be read by famous actors.
This approach is meant to create an immersive video environment, a sort of impressionist collage of the seminal author’s work, using current technology to attract a younger audience. The visitor is invited to delve deep into this pictorial universe with an audioguide that leads them through the video footage. On top of the archival images, there are also images of the streets and alleyways of Montreal during the four seasons, in order to well define the geographical universe described by Michel Tremblay in his works.
“When visitors enter the exhibit, there is a first section called Michel en 5 temps (Michel in 5 parts). This first part evokes his childhood, his adolescence, the period of Belles-Soeurs, a part entitled Fresque infinite and finally another whose theme is ‘the universal’,” says Lise Bertrand.
LGBT theme is not a central focus
After these sections, there is a large impressionist zone that also includes three more intimate spaces. There is a living room, a kitchen, and a theatre lodge. In the lodge, “the spectator is invited to discover, with the help of an iPad, a mass of archival footage that we were not able to include in the exhibit,” says Lise Bertrand. “There is enough to captivate the visitor for hours in this section alone.”
However, there is no area dedicated exclusively to the LGBT themes in the works of the author of La nuit des princes charmants and Hosanna. “There is no separate section talking about homosexuality in Tremblay’s works, but in any case, it is inherent in his work and can be found a little bit everywhere throughout the exhibit,” explains Lise Bertrand.
The exhibit runs until October 14. A great way to wish a happy birthday to one of Québec’s quintessential authors.
Banner photo: Museé de Civilisation du Québec