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Théâtre Populaire du Québec

Company in Quebec, founded in 1966 with the noble goal of touring theatre across the province.

It began with a slate of more classical works (Musset, Racine, Molière, Corneille etc.) until 1969 when Albert Millaire took over the artistic directorship of the company and made an effort to bring Quebec works into the repertoire. But it was from Jean-Guy Sabourin's directorship (which began in 1972) that the creeping eclecticism - which caused the eventual doom of the company when it was read as a lack of artistic focus - began. In a given season, works by Arrabal were matched up with the works of Jean Barbeau. However, the relatively unsophisticated theatre-starved regional audience, in most cases, embraced TPQ. The content and presentation, however, played less and less well in the major centres. The productions had to be designed for touring and the rough and ready feeling of TPQ left the audiences of Montreal and Quebec, now being exposed to Gilles Maheu and Robert Lepage, failed to appreciate the necessary rusticity of the operation.

What killed the company in 1996 was a brutal peer-assessment tendered at the level of provincial funding. Though the company's fiscal health was solid, as were its subscription rates, questions arose about the very eclecticism that had kept the group going for over three decades. Maryse Pelletier, the last artistic director of the company, was accused of weakness in her choice of plays. The company was told that its funding would be cut by half, and then scrubbed altogether. It decided, instead, to disband.

Profile by Gaetan Charlebois

Last updated 2022-02-19