If the content you are seeing is presented as unstyled HTML your browser is an older version that cannot support cascading style sheets. If you wish to upgrade your browser you may download Mozilla or Internet Explorer for Windows.

Lamarche, Gustave

Playwright/teacher/director born in Montreal, Quebec, in 1895, died there in 1987. After studying at College Bourget in Rigaud, he joined the Saint-Viator order in 1913, and was ordained as a priest in 1920. In 1926, he obtained a degree in classical literature from the Institut catholique and the Sorbonne, and in 1927 a degree in political science from the Université de Louvain. After returning to Canada, he taught humanities at the Séminaire de Joliette (1927-31), the College Bourget (1931-34), and Le Scolasticat Saint-Charles, a theological college in Joliette.

Lamarche saw the stasis which was typical of theatrical education at the time. To repair the situation, and after a tour of Europe, he wrote the religious epics Jonathas (premiered in 1933, and was afterwards regularly performed in colleges around Quebec); and La Défaite de l'Enfer (a choral play for 700 voices, performed on the mountain in Rigaud before and audience of 10,000 in May 1938), two among his more than thirty-five plays.

His works were written in verse and in prose, on biblical, historical, and mythological subjects, inspired by medieval mystery plays, and required elaborate staging.

In 1939, he began a school company, mounting some daring productions with his brother, Antonin Lamarche, also a priest. He gave workshops to introduce young people to theatre and directed productions of the classics. Many believe he was responsible for the relaunching of interest in theatre in post-WWI Quebec.

Source: Alonzo Le Blanc. "Lamarche, Gustave," The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre, eds. Eugene Benson and L.W. Conolly. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1989.

Last updated 2021-03-01