Governor General's Literary Award, Tranlsation: Michel Nadeau, And Slowly Beauty, translated by Maureen Labonté (Finalist)
Everything changes on what begins as a typical day in the life of the aptly named Mr. Mann, a forty-eight-year-old, buttoned-down, middle-management type in a pinstriped grey suit, who feels himself losing touch with his job, his wife, his children, and the rest of his urban life. He wins tickets to a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters and realizes that the mid-life cocoon he has spun around himself is beginning to unwind.
And Slowly Beauty, first performed in French in 2003, was created collaboratively by Michel Nadeau and colleagues from his Quebec troupe, Théâtre Niveau Parking. With the intensity of an electric current striking a reflecting pool, Nadeau shows us how Chekhov’s century-old drama about the yearning of three sisters in a dreary provincial town directly addresses Mann’s own stifled existence and liberates him from his self-imposed “gulag.”
Mann returns to see Three Sisters a second time, finding that its themes of beauty and poetry lost to the monotony of everyday existence mirror many aspects of his own existence. At the same time, Mann’s dying friend realizes that he is for the first time able to appreciate the astonishing beauty of trees outside his window. The irony of such a deathbed admission is not lost on Mr. Mann.
With Chekhov’s characters and themes coming to inhabit the protagonist’s mind and life, emphasized by the repeated image of geese flying overhead – these birds do not question the purpose of their journey but find it sufficient to fly in unison – And Slowly Beauty speaks eloquently to the power of art to transform lives.
Cast of 3 women and 3 men.
About the authors
Maureen Labonté is a dramaturge, translator, and teacher. She has also coordinated a number of play development programs in theatres and playwrights” centres across the country. In 2006, she was named head of program for the Banff Playwrights Colony at the Banff Centre. She was dramaturge at the Colony from 2003–2005. She was also Literary Manager in charge of play development at the Shaw Festival from 2002–2004. Previous to that, she worked at the National Theatre School of Canada, first developing and running a pilot directing program and then coordinating the playwrighting programme and playwrights” residency. She still teaches at NTS.
Mauren has translated more than thirty Quebec plays into English. Recent translations include: The Bookshop by Marie-Josée Bastien, Everybody's WELLES pour tous by Patrice Dubois and Martin Labreque, and The Tailor's Will by Michel Ouellette. She will soon be starting work on: Wigwam by Jean-Frédéric Messier and Bienvenue à (une ville dont vous êtes le touriste) by Olivier Choinière.
- Short-listed, Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation
“And Slowly Beauty is no simple kitchen-sink drama. There is much laughter in unexpected places and some deftly directed movements that quicken the interplay of action and ideas. Like Mr. Mann at the theatre, ‘we were transported’.”
– Globe and Mail