An opera diva, Patricia, (almost 50) meets her Waterloo singing Salomé at the Opéra Bastille in Paris. In an impromptu get-together in her Nuns’ Island penthouse, on the afternoon of her return from Europe, her mother, a popular Montreal stage and television actress (pushing 70), and her idealistic committed-to-new-work daughter (pushing 30) goad her: What is the sense of an international career if your art doesn’t contribute to change (or at least to wide-spread pleasure and inspiration) in the society you live in? An international opera star lives in hotel rooms around the world, so what is the meaning (and the impact) of her art, and on what, or who’s society? Is Patricia right in thinking that in this age of globalization an artist who chooses to stay home is doomed to mediocrity? These questions, this tri-generational drama, are framed by the diva’s gay pianist who packs his bags and comes running to accompany her, whenever and wherever she calls.
Like all of Tremblay’s plays, Impromptu on Nuns’ Island is a multi-layered tour-de-force about art, life and politics from a matchless writer of tragicomic women. Grounded in the myth of the eternal return, the universal and chthonic story of the triple goddess and her androgynous male consort, this impromptu also interrogates the evolution of the role of the artist in Quebec’s increasingly distinct culture and society.
About the authors
One of the most produced and the most prominent playwrights in the history of Canadian theatre, Michel Tremblay has received countless prestigious honours and accolades. His dramatic, literary and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity, including translations of his plays that have achieved huge success in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.
Awards and Recognition*
Prix du Grand (2009) La Traversée de la ville (Leméac Editeur Inc.)
Blue Metropolis International Literary Grand Prix (2006)
Globe and Mail Top 100 Books (2003) Birth of a Bookworm
Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Play (2000) For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again
Chalmers Awards (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1986, 1989, 2000)
Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (1999)
Molson Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1994)
Louis-Hémon Prize (1994)
Montreal Book Fair Grand Public Prize (1994)
Banff Centre National Award (1992)
Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France (1991)
Chevalier of the Order of Quebec (1990)
San Francisco Lesbian and Gay Festival Long-Standing Public Service Award (1989)
CBC Anik Prize (1988)
Athanase-David Lifetime Achievement Prize (1988)
Quebec-Paris Prize (1985)
Chevalier of Arts and Letters of France (1984)
John Van Burek
John Van Burek has been a practising theatre artist for over 20 years, in both French and English, throughout Canada. He has also worked in the fields of opera, film and television. He is also one of Canada’s leading translators for theatre, most notably of Michel Tremblay’s plays, including Les Belles-Soeurs (Talonbooks). Mr. Van Burek has received several awards and citations for his work, including the Toronto Drama Bench Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Canadian Theatre.
Born in Quebec, William Grant (?Bill”) Glassco was a Canadian theatre director, producer and founder of Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre. He then became the artistic director of the CentreStage Theatre Company which merged, in 1988, with the Toronto Free Theatre to become CanStage. In 1982, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Linda Gaboriau is a dramaturge and literary translator renowned for her translations of some 100 plays and novels by some of Quebec's most prominent writers, including many of the Quebec plays best known to English Canadian audiences. After studying French language and literature at McGill University, she freelanced as a journalist for the CBC and the Montreal Gazette. She has worked in Canadian and Québécois theatre and is founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, where she directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. Her third translation of a Wajdi Mouawad play Forests in 2010 won her a second Governor General's Literary Award for translation. Originally from Boston, Linda Gaboriau has been based in Montreal since 1963. David Homel is a writer, journalist, filmmaker, and translator. He is the author of five previous novels, including The Speaking Cure, which won the J.I. Segal Award of the Jewish Public Library, and the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Best Fiction from the Quebec Writer's Federation. He has also written two children's books, including Travels with my Family, which was co-authored with his wife, Canadian children's author Marie-Louise Gay. He has translated several French works, receiving two Governor General's Literary Awards for translation. Homel was born and raised in Chicago and currently resides in Montreal.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 playRites 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 (NTSC), first developing and running a pilot directing program and then coordinating the playwrighting program and playwrights' residency. She still teaches at NTSC. She 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, Martin Labreque and The Tailor's Will by Michel Ouellette, Wigwam by Jean-Frédéric Messier and Bienvenue à (une ville dont vous êtes le touriste) by Olivier Choinière.
- Winner, Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation