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Pelletier, Gilles

Gilles Pelletier
Gilles Pelletier

Actor/director born in St-Jovite, Quebec, in 1925; died September 5, 2018 at the age of 93. Brother of Denise Pelletier. Gilles Pelletier was a dominant figure in Quebec theatre.

His father was a notary and he spent his childhood travelling between St-Jovite, Montreal and Kamouraska. He began his career with Équipe, after having served in the French navy during WWII, and since then he worked constantly in radio, television, and cinema, as well as on stage.

He is one of the founders of Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale / Théâtre Denise-Pelletier which he helmed from 1964-82. While he led the Company he directed the works of Chekhov, Calderon, Marcel Dubé, Ionesco, Molière, Goldoni and many others.

As an actor, he was notable for magnificent presence and voice, which he applied to leads in Shakespeare's La nuit des rois/Twelfth Night and La mégère apprivoisée/Taming of the Shrew; Michel Tremblay's A toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou; Pirandello's Six personnages en quête d'auteur/Six Characters in Search of an Author; Miller's Le Prix/The Price; and Dubé's Un Simple Soldat. He appeared in the world premiere of Jean-Pierre Boucher's Les vieux ne courent pas les rues (Théâtre d’Aujourd’hui, March, 2000); in the National Arts Centre production of Quand Marie est partie (November, 2000); and in a Ionesco double-bill at Nouvelle Compagnie Théâtrale / Théâtre Denise-Pelletier (January, 2001).

Gilles Pelletier and Paul Guèvremont in the Radio-Canada TV production of Marcel Dubé's Un simple soldat
Gilles Pelletier (l) and Paul Guèvremont in the Radio-Canada TV production of Marcel Dubé's Un simple soldat (photo: National Archives)

He has worked with many of the Canada's great directors including Pierre Dagenais, Georges Groulx, Paul Toupin and Paul Hébert.

Pelletier has said of his work, "I wish to pursue this absolute in acting: to get to a point, in theatre, where I make people live with me - make them become conscious of themselves at the same time that I become conscious of myself. I am also aiming at the liberation of my self through technique." About technique he has said, "When you learn a role, you have to find the respiratory rhythm of the character; it is the secret of what he lives... Learning a text is not difficult. Harder is forgetting it so that it is the situation which propels the text."

In 1998, he received the Prix Denise-Pelletier (named after his sister), the highest distinction granted by the Quebec government in the realm of the performing arts.

Viewings: Antigone, Radio-Canada, 1962, dir: Louis-George Carrier, a production of the Anouilh play staged for television and featuring Gilles Pelletier.

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois. Additional information provided by Alvina Ruprecht.

Last updated 2020-01-15