Michel Tremblay's 'Les Belles-soeurs' with a Yiddish twist
Michel Tremblay exploded on to the stage in 1968 with his highly acclaimed and controversial play Les Belles-soeurs. His brutally honest portrayal of the Montreal working class revolutionized Quebec theatre. Writing in a street dialect called joual, Tremblay's beautifully flawed characters resonated beyond borders and languages. His works have been translated and performed in more than 20 countries, making him one of Canada's most prolific writers.
The amateur ensemble production directed by Dora Wasserman is a critical success. Pat Donnely of the Montreal Gazette writes: "What matters here is that Les Belles-soeurs is a damned good play. And in Yiddish -- with a delightful smattering of French -- it works."
• Tremblay's plays have been particularly successful in Scotland. He has been dubbed "the greatest Scottish playwright Scotland never had." Seven of his plays have been translated into Scottish dialect in 11 years. Tremblay received an honorary degree from Stirling University in Scotland in 1992.
• Tremblay has also enjoyed success as a novelist, translator, screenwriter, lyricist and even as a librettist. Some of his novels include La Grosse Femme d'à côté est enceinte (1978), Le Cœur à découvert (1986) and Un Ange cornu avec des ailes de tôle (1994). He has also adapted and translated plays by Aristophanes, Tennessee Williams, Anton Chekhov and Edward Albee into French.
• Tremblay has written several screenplays including the Genie award-winning Françoise Durocher, Waitress. Tremblay has written song lyrics for Pauline Julien, Renée Claude and Monique Leyrac. He also wrote the opera Nelligan (1990). It is about Emile Nelligan, one of Canada's finest 19th century poets, who was sent to a mental hospital at age 19.
• Les Belles-soeurs has been produced in many languages. The Scottish Brogue version is called The Guid Sisters (1991) and the Yiddish version is called Di Shvegerins (1992).
• Quebec's most widely produced playwright in English Canada has written countless plays and published over a dozen novels and three memoirs. (2003)
• Dora Wasserman, the founder of Yiddish Theatre, died in Dec. 2003. She was 84.
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: May 29, 1992
Host: Judy Maddren, Bob Oxley
Reporter: Carol Off
Last updated: March 8, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
All Clips from this Topic
Tremblay defends the language of his people.
Parisians embrace Tremblay's play.
Tremblay on why decided to leave school.
The actor's portrayal of Tremblay's troubled transvestite wins rave re...
Tremblay tours his childhood neighbourhood in Montreal.
CBC's Laurier LaPierre interviews the Quebec playwright about relocati...
The second part of CBC's Laurier LaPierre interview with Michel Trembl...
The award-winning playwright speaks candidly about battling his insecu...
Quebec's foremost playwright on separatism.
The writer talks about the influence of women, the Main and Quebec on ...
Tremblay welcomes the unique collaboration between two cultures.
Michel Tremblay looks back on his life with CBC's Dennis Trudeau.
Tremblay remains prolific after 30 years.
Michel Tremblay exploded on to the stage in 1968 with his highly accla...
Tremblay auctions his paintings to support school breakfast programs.