CBC Digital Archives

Impressions of Michel Tremblay

A summer series from the early 1970s, each week of Impressions featured Ramsay Cook in conversation with a prominent Canadian. The CBC Digital Archives has selected episodes from the series featuring rare and unfiltered conversations with some of Canada's most creative people. The producer of Impressions was Judith Walle, and the executive producer Ain Soodor.

Michel Tremblay is considered by some to be Canada's most important playwright, but he is also a prolific writer of novels, short stories, autobiographical sketches, musical comedies and screenplays. Born in Montreal, his works have been translated into more than 22 languages and are produced around the world.

Though only 32 by the time he sits down for this 1974 interview with CBC's Ramsay Cook, Tremblay is already well established as a playwright. In this interview, the soft-spoken, direct and uncompromising Tremblay discusses his childhood in a working-class Montreal family with 12 children, his patchy education, his early love of drama, the deep response that came from using the joual dialect in his play Les Belles-soeurs, the political nature of his stories, the importance of language in defining a distinct culture and his repeated use of characters who change and grow from play to play.

• Michel Tremblay's works are uniquely Canadian, famous for their use of local dialect, their championing of Quebec nationalism, their rejection of patriarchy and their unapologetic celebration of women, language and homosexuality.

• Tremblay discovered his passion for writing at an early age. As a child he would rewrite new endings to popular TV shows such as La Famille Plouffe.

• Tremblay has written song lyrics for Pauline Julien, Renée Claude and Monique Leyrac. He also wrote the libretto to 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.

• Tremblay's plays have been particularly successful in Scotland. According to The Guardian, he has been dubbed "the greatest Scottish playwright Scotland never had." At least seven of his plays have been translated into Scottish dialect. Tremblay received an honorary degree from Stirling University in Scotland in 1992.

Medium: Television
Program: Impressions
Broadcast Date: Sept. 1, 1974
Guest(s): Michel Tremblay
Interviewer: Ramsay Cook
Duration: 26:06

Last updated: March 21, 2012

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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