In “The Axe” a literature professor arrives at the door of one of his students in the middle of the night. On his way he has stumbled (with a flask of whiskey) through the pouring rain, stopping in a city park to vandalize the statue of an angel, tormented by the image of his life’s work, ninety-seven poems he has left behind in flames in his apartment. The student has turned in an assignment (which the professor has brought along in his briefcase): a carefully wrapped hatchet.
In “Piercing” a teenage runaway, Marie-He´lene, seeks to escape the mediocrity of her small-town family life, only to end up in a very different kind of urban “family,” a cult of dominance and body piercing presided over by Kevin, the maimed and orphaned son of a millionaire. They live in a church converted into luxury condos, with a strange ageless and toothless woman who plays guardian to him and his test-tube son Raphael: a 20 year old computer nerd working on an MA thesis on securitization.
In “Anna on the Letter C” a lonely, virginal typist transcribing the “c” words for a dictionary project lives just blocks away from the church where Rasputin-like Kevin holds court. But her world is not inhabited by the angels and demons of “Piercing.”
Taking pity on a middle-aged stalker (a seedy, sweating chain-smoker, retired from his job as a projectionist in soft-core porn cinemas), she invites him to her apartment for tea. As they sit, awkwardly making conversation, she confesses that she is a virgin. Her feelings for him waver between repulsion and compassion. His desire for her is palpable as heat lightning flashes in the summer night.
About the authors
Larry Tremblay is a writer, director, actor and specialist in Kathakali, an elaborate dance theatre form which he has studied on numerous trips to India. He has published twenty books as a playwright, poet, novelist and essayist.
The recent publication of Talking Bodies (Talonbooks, 2001) brought together four of his plays in English translation. He played the role of Léo in his own play Le Déclic du destin in many festivals in Brazil and Argentina. The play received a new production in Paris in 1999 and was highly successful at the Festival Off in Avignon in 2000.
Thanks to an uninterrupted succession of new plays (Anatomy Lesson, Ogre, The Dragonfly of Chicoutimi, Les Mains bleues and Téléroman, among others) in production during the 1990s, Tremblay’s work continues to achieve international recognition.
His plays, premiered for the most part in Montreal, have also been produced, often in translation, in Italy, France, Belgium, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Argentina and Scotland. In 2001, Le Ventriloque had three separate productions in Paris, Brussels and Montreal; it has since been translated into numerous languages.
More recently, Tremblay collaborated with Welsh Canadian composer John Metcalf on a new opera, A Chair in Love, a concert version of which premiered in Montreal in April 2005. One of Quebec’s most versatile writers, Tremblay currently teaches acting at l’École supérieure de théâtre de l’Université du Québec à Montréal.
Keith Turnbull served as the artistic director of Theatre Arts programs at the Banff Centre for the Arts from 1993 to 1999 and was also the co-director of the Banff playRites Colony and director of the Contemporary Opera and Song Training Program from 1997 to 2000. His career as a director, producer, designer and dramaturge is highlighted by a commitment to contemporary and new work in both theatre and opera.
In addition, Turnbull has a particular interest in the pedagogy, performance practice and interpretation of the works of Shakespeare and of other language-based texts. He has directed more than seventy plays at various theatres throughout the world.
Turnbull also founded a First Nations theatre company from which emerged many of Canada’s most noted Native performers. He was the founding co-artistic director of the Toronto Theatre Festival and the president of the Toronto Theatre Alliance, as well as a board member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. He has taught at the University of Manitoba, the National Theatre School, the University of Calgary and the Banff Centre for the Arts.
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.
?What lingers is a degree of delight at Tremblay’s ability not so much to weave a storyline as to unravel one with such finesse — “
” Toronto Sun