Twelve Opening Acts

By Michel Tremblay
Translated by Sheila Fischman

Twelve Opening Acts
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Alongside his dozens of fascinating and award-winning plays, and in addition to this great Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal series of six epic novels, his translations, adaptations, librettos, and acute portrayals of human emotions in a state of both crisis and redemption, ... Read more


Overview

Alongside his dozens of fascinating and award-winning plays, and in addition to this great Chronicles of the Plateau Mont-Royal series of six epic novels, his translations, adaptations, librettos, and acute portrayals of human emotions in a state of both crisis and redemption, Michel Tremblay has left his readers with three magical keys to the secrets of his great literary achievements.

The first of these, Bambi and Me [Les Vues animés, Leméac, 1990], is a memoir of the movies that shaped his imagination as a child-those he watched in fascination and spent hours deconstructing with his mother, and those he watched on his own.

The second, Twelve Opening Acts [Douze Coups de Théâtre, Leméac, 1992], is an account of Tremblay’s discovery of the theatre as an adolescent: from his first breathtaking recognition of how the imagination is actually a public construct, while watching a performance of Babar the Elephant at the age of six; to his winning of the CBC drama competition with his first play, Le Train.

Between these parenthetical stories, Michel Tremblay offers the reader an entrance into his discovery of the theatricality of life itself-the personal dramas of his homosexuality, the death of his mother, the increasingly frail withdrawing of his father, even the completely unintentional, almost apolitical creation of his nationalist awareness-are recounted in narratives at once devoid of judgment, but at the same time ennobled with a complexity and intensity of passion operatic in its scope and merciless in its sweep.

This is the most ruthless and unsparing, yet tender and evocative insight Tremblay has ever offered into the creation of his literary genius.

Michel Tremblay

A major figure in Québec literature, Michel Tremblay has built an impressive body of work as a playwright, novelist, translator, and screenwriter. To date Tremblay’s complete works include twenty-nine plays, thirty-one novels, six collections of autobiographical stories, a collection of tales, seven screenplays, forty-six translations and adaptations of works by foreign writers, nine plays and twelve stories printed in diverse publications, an opera libretto, a song cycle, a Symphonic Christmas Tale, and two musicals. His work has won numerous awards and accolades; his plays have been published and translated into forty languages and have garnered critical acclaim in Canada, the United States, and more than fifty countries around the world.

Sheila Fischman

Born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Sheila Fischman was raised in Ontario and is a graduate of the University of Toronto. She is a founding member of the Literary Translators’ Association of Canada and has also been a columnist for the Globe and Mail and Montreal Gazette, a broadcaster with CBCRadio, and literary editor of the Montreal Star. She now devotes herself full time to literary translation, specializing in contemporary Québec fiction, and has translated more than 125 Québec novels by, among others, Michel Tremblay, Jacques Poulin, Anne Hébert, François Gravel, Marie-Claire Blais, and Roch Carrier.Sheila Fischman has received numerous honours, including the 1998 Governor General’s Award (for her translation of Michel Tremblay’s Bambi and Me for Talonbooks); she has been a finalist fourteen times for this award. She has received two Canada Council Translation Prizes and two Félix-Antoine Savard Awards from Columbia University. In 2000, she was invested into the Order of Canada and, in 2008, into the Ordre national du Québec, and, in 2008, she received the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize for her outstanding contributions to Canadian literature. She holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Ottawa and Waterloo. Fischman currently resides in Montréal.

Awards

  • Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation 2002, Short-listed

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