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Entre Les Mains de Michel Tremblay

by Archives November 1, 2006

He is a household name in Quebec, but, as a film at the Festival du Nouveau

Cinema clearly proves, he is also well-known and highly admired in placesfar, far away from Canadian soil.

Michel Tremblay has produced 57 works throughout his career. His plays and short stories are appreciated the world over and have been translated into 31 different languages.

Entre Les Mains de Michel Tremblay, a new documentary by director Adrian Wills, offers some insight into the personal character of this famous writer. Through interviews with Tremblay and with people who have lived and worked with him, the film tells the story of the man behind the words, the awards, and the public figure.

Tremblay comes across as a very humble person. He openly discusses moments of pride and moments of shame in his interviews for the film; he tells everything just like it is. This honesty seems to be an underlying theme throughout Tremblay’s life and work.

From a very young age , Tremblay rejected the fallacies he perceived in this world. He refused to continue his formal education past high school because he didn’t believe in the system and would not accept it as the only way to succeed.

Tremblay’s work is a reflection of his refusal to hide the truth. His characters speak, for the most part, in colloquial language.

Actors interviewed for the film expressed the relief they felt after reading a Tremblay piece. For the first time, their characters expressed themselves in a way the actors could truly identify with. The formality of the theatre had been broken down and Tremblay allowed true-to-life characters to tell his story on the stage.

Tremblay admits in the film that most of his characters come directly from people he knows. His aunts, sisters and mother serve as tremendous sources of inspiration for Tremblay when he sits down to write a script. Hearing their voices echoing in his head, Tremblay said, made it easier for him to write the characters’ lines exactly the way the real people would have said them.

The truth behind Tremblay’s work is recognizable in Quebec and around the world. The film visits theatre companies in Scotland and Japan who have successfully mounted many of Tremblay ‘s works.

The response was the same no matter what the country – anyone who had worked on a Tremblay piece said they could see themselves in the characters he created. From actors in Glasgow, to a theatre manager in Tokyo, the interviewees all said they felt deeply connected to Tremblay’s work and found it a pleasure to perform.

The universality of Tremblay’s work is, perhaps, the most impressive part of his very successful career and a major theme of this tributary film.

To create truthful characters for the stage is not easy, but to create characters with needs and emotions that are so real and genuinely human they can be identified by people of all cultures is truly commendable.

Entre Les Mains de Tremblay is masterfully edited, keeping the viewer involved in the telling of Tremblay’s story from start to finish. The interviews are incredibly revealing, and one feels privileged

to find out so much personal information about this very talented man. With excerpts from play performances, and still shots of Tremblay’s family, Wills manages to creatively balance the past, present and future of Tremblay’s world.

Entre Les Mains de Tremblay is a story about the human spirit, and the common ground we all share regardless of our culture, background, or place in the world.

There are some things all human beings feel, some questions we all ask; Tremblay has the sensitivity and the skill to put them down in writing for all of us to share.

Entre Les Mains de Michel Tremblay will air on Radio-Canada Nov. 10 at 9 p.m.

The Festival du Nouveau Cinema closed Saturday, Oct. 28

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