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.
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)
Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Most recently she won the 2010 Governor General’s Award for Forests, her translation of the play by Wajdi Mouawad.