FOR THE PLEASURE OF SEEING HER AGAIN
By Michel Tremblay
In Ottawa, at the Elmwood Theatre, 261 Buena Vista Road, Rockcliffe Park
The Play – For the Pleasure of Seeing Her Again is a memory play, and it is both hilariously funny and profoundly touching. At its core is the figure of Nana, the quintessential mother, a non-stop talker and one of theatre’s most endearing characters. The play was written in 1998, and it looks back to the playwright’s relationship with a beloved mother. It is a portrait of a working class woman who brought passion and creative scope to a humble life, incidentally teaching her son to revel in books and in the life of the mind. An American-born woman, partly Cree, who married a man from Montreal, she fed her son’s vision of Quebec as a matriarchal culture drive by powerful, imaginative and fiery women such as Nana in this play. Critics have often suggested that the characters in Tremblay plays and novels are typically based on family, friends and neighbours in East End Montreal. In this work, there is no pretence: it is a very personal play about his mother and the way that she amused and inspired him. In 2000, the play – Encore une fois, si vous le permettez in French – won a Chalmers Award and a Dora Mavor Moore Award. It is a testament not only to a woman bursting with emotions and ideas, but also to power of theatre to transform our most powerful emotions into fables that empower and delight.
The Playwright – Michel Tremblay is one of the luminaries of Canadian theatre and one who helped to find a native voice for theatre in Quebec. Born in Montreal and raised in the working class neighbourhood of Montreal’s East End, he is a master of that rich and expressive French-Canadian dialect called joual. Before his time, there was very little original work being written for the stage in Quebec; he helped to change that and in doing so to create a modern Quebec. Tremblay plays are plainly rooted in Montreal, yet they touch on universal themes and have been translated into 22 languages. Tremblay, the son of a printer, first trained as a graphic artist, writing in his spare time. His first success on the professional stage was Les Belles-sœurs, produced in 1968. A lively attack on the hidebound and ultra-religious culture of Quebec in 1950s, the play also shone a witty and compassionate light on the lives of working class women in the Montreal of Tremblay’s youth. Not only did he write lyrically about humble women, using their own language, he also dared to treat such taboo subject as sexuality, abortion and homosexuality. Les Belles- sœurs launched Tremblay’s career as a card-carrying member of the Quiet Revolution. He followed up with such master works as Hosanna and La Duchesse et le roturier and many other plays and novels. Tremblay is the winner of many honours and awards, including the Prix Victor-Morin (1974), the Prix France-Québec (1984), the Chalmers Award (1986), the Molson Prize (1994), and the Lieutenant-Governor’s award for Ontario (1976 and 1977). In 1991, he was appointed Officier de l’Ordre de France and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec and, in 1994, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France. A lifelong supporter of Quebec sovereignty, he refused the Order of Canada in 1990 but accepted a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award in 1999.
David Holton – Narrator
David’s Ottawa theatre credits include To Kill a Mockingbird (Atticus Finch) and Clybourne Park (Karl/Steve) at the Ottawa Little Theatre; Third Wall Theatre’s Henry V (Fluellen); Linden House’s Blithe Spirit (Charles); several Plosive Productions Radio Shows at the Gladstone Theatre, including 2010’s It’s a Wonderful Life (George Bailey); and Tara Players’ production of Smash, for which he received the Capital Critics’ Circle award for best actor. In 2013, he created and performed I’m Ready Warden, a one-man show on capital punishment, at the Gladstone Theatre. Selected previous credits include Angels in America Parts I and II (Prior Walter), Noises Off (Garry/Steve), and Copenhagen (Heisenberg). In 2013, David shared the Digi60 Film Festival’s Best Acting Award for his debut screen performance in Icarus Rising.
Janet Uren – Nana
Founder of Linden House in 2007, Uren has played roles with the company over the past 12 years including her favourites, Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit and Florence Foster Jenkins in Glorious! She has also recently appeared at Ottawa Little Theatre in Pride and Prejudice (Mrs. Bennett), The Calendar Girls (Ruth) and most recently as an eccentric and dog-loving writer of children’s books in Move Over Mrs. Markham.