The Madonna Painter
By Michel Marc Bouchard
Translated by Linda Gaboriau
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At the end of the First World War, to protect his village from the spanish ?u epidemic brought home by returning soldiers, a young priest recently arrived in the Parish of Lac St-Jean commissions a wandering Italian painter to decorate the walls of the local church with a fresco ... Read more
At the end of the First World War, to protect his village from the spanish ?u epidemic brought home by returning soldiers, a young priest recently arrived in the Parish of Lac St-Jean commissions a wandering Italian painter to decorate the walls of the local church with a fresco dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The painter is to choose, among four local women all named Mary, a model for his work. The presence of the foreign artist, his choice of a local virgin to serve as a model and the frighteningly strange nature of his work will upset the lives and change the fate of the entire community. The town’s doctor, meanwhile, has his own prescription for what is ailing the villagers. As superstition collides with desire, The Madonna Painter unmasks a bouquet of lies disguised as a fable.
Loosely inspired by the events surrounding the creation of the fresco that still adorns the nave of the church in Saint-Coeur de Marie, the author’s native village, the language of the play is not that of its current inhabitants. Bouchard’s characters simply echo the medieval beliefs that coloured the imagination and shaped the destiny of all Québécois, especially those living in its many rural townships until very recently, and inspire this story with their gossip about their neighbours, foreigners and the mythical marital spats between God and Satan. That fresco depicting the Virgin Mary’s ascension was the author’s ?rst encounter with art, with a foreigner and with lies, and Michel Marc Bouchard has said: ?In order to portray that fresco, I became a liar and the people from my village became saints and martyrs, artists and models, lovers and misanthropes. I presented their legends the way a ?ea market hawker displays sacred objects that have been stolen and disguised for resale.”
A major figure in Quebec theatre, MICHEL TREMBLAY has built an impressive body of work as a playwright, novelist, translator, and screenwriter. To date, Michel’s complete works include 29 plays (including 2 theatrical adaptations of his own work); 30 novels; 6 collections of autobiographical stories; a collection of tales; 7 screenplays; 46 translations/adaptations of works by foreign writers; 9 plays and 12 stories printed in diverse publications; an opera libretto; a song cycle; a Symphonic Christmas Tale and 2 musicals. His plays have been published and translated into 40 languages and have garnered critical acclaim in Canada, the United States, and more than 50 countries around the world. His name can be found in the Larousse and Robert Dictionaries, the Who’s Who Encyclopedia, the Dictionary of International Biography and the Encyclopedia Britannica. During his career, Michel has received more than 80 prizes, citations and honours including the Grand Prix de la Francophonie, awarded by the Académie française in 2018, as well as the Prince Pierre de Monaco Literary Prize and the Prix Gilles-Corbeil for his contribution to the arts in 2017. A six-time winner of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, he won nine Chalmers Awards and five Grand Prix du public presented during Montreal’s annual book fair le Salon du livre. In 1999, he was awarded the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. He has also received six honorary doctorates.
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