Political drama/satire in two acts by Françoise Loranger, premiered at the Comédie-Canadienne, January 16, 1970, directed by Yvan Canuel with costumes by Janet Logan, lights by Yves Gélinas and set by Jean-Louis Garceau, featuring Jean Duceppe, Gabriel Arcand, Hélène Loiselle, Carmen Tremblay, Jean Brousseau, Roger Garand, Rolland Damour, Raymond Roger and Madeleine Langlois among others.
It is set in a new cultural centre the day before Mardi gras; but the set and action spill over into the audience and the audience onto the stage.
Franco-, Italo- and Anglo-Quebeckers wander in to decorate the hall and to witness an impromptu municipal council meeting...and to snipe at each other. Then the rich snipe at the poor, the old at the young. The author snipes at everyone.
The play refers to events of the time (the St-Léonard language riot) and the never-ending language debates. The work is part agitprop, part Alternative and Experimental Theatre, part old-fashioned satire. What Loranger clearly portrays is the fear in 1970 that gave rise to the language laws in Quebec and the profound mistrust of federal politics and politicians.
Populated with stereotypes and statistics, the piece becomes an oratorio that rises to an hysterical free-for-all with shots aimed at anglophones and immigrants. But, ultimately, no one is portrayed sympathetically.
Audiences were frenzied (some suggest rabid) participants in the work - perhaps missing Loranger's point that a society cannot grow unless it overcomes its fear,ignorance and intolerance.
Anglophone critics were nervous. "It is not easy to keep your critical cool when a dozen or so people on stage...keep chanting: I HATE THE ENGLISH! and you sense, then hear, the audience agree with them." (Montreal Gazette)
It is not hard to imagine the impact of this play: the political pot was boiling over in Quebec and it was a mere ten months before the October Crisis.
Commentary by Gaetan Charlebois.
Last updated 2019-02-26