Centaur Theatre Company Presents MICHEL & TI-JEAN 2/2-3/7

Centaur Theatre Company presents MICHEL & TI-JEAN By GEORGE RIDEOUT, Directed by SARAH GARTON STANLEY, Starring ALAIN GOULEM & VINCENT HOSS-DESMARAIS

Set & Costume Design by Amy Keith
Lighting Design by Kirsten Watt
Music Composed by Ian Tamblyn
Stage Manager: Mélanie St-Jacques
Apprentice Stage Manager: Stephanie Link

In the world premiere of Michel & ti-Jean, a script which was endorsed and brought to Centaur's attention via Michel Tremblay, a 27-year-old Michel Tremblay, having just published Les Belles Soeurs, and the "king of the Beatniks", Jack Kerouac, meet at a bar in Florida, in 1969 (about a month before Kerouac's death). In this evocative and spirited glimpse into the poetic and philosophical world of North American literature, the two prolific writers share their thoughts on the art of writing, inspirations, sports, music, religion and the most innate quality they share: their Quebecois heritage!

Playwright George Rideout, was struck by the many similarities in the writing and lives of both notable authors. As he points out: "Jack Kerouac is widely known as the author of On the Road, the face of the Beat Generation, and an inspirational force behind the counter-culture movement of the1960's. Michel Tremblay, Québec's most influential playwright and novelist, helped change the face of Quebec society with Les Belles Soeurs and his many other unflinching portraits of a dispossessed people. Less well known, however, is the striking similarity in the formative years of these two literary giants. The iconic nature of On the Road as an American anthem has obscured the fact that Kerouac was born into a Franco-American working class family with Québécois roots, that he didn't speak English until he was six years old, and that his three "Lowell" novels-Visions of Gerard, Dr. Sax, and Maggie Cassidy-offer the reader a portrait of a childhood world remarkably similar to the one depicted in the works of Tremblay: a close-knit extended French-Catholic family, a father who worked as a printer, an artistic boy child who abandoned himself to the world of books, and an adored mother who did all in her power to protect and nurture her young prodigy. This fictional meeting between the two writers takes place in the fall of 1969. The 47 year old Kerouac will be dead in a month's time from chronic alcoholism. Just 27, Tremblay will go on to create a body of work comparable to that of Balzac and Proust." (Rideout)

Though criticized at the time, by Americans intellectuals for not really knowing French, Jack Kerouac (born Jean-Louis), like Michel Tremblay, was among the first writers to bring the Quebecois language to the page. The musical foundation of Tremblay's and Kerouac's work has been noted by critics worldwide. Tremblay's dramatic structure has been called "symphonic" and Kerouac's spontaneous prose has been compared to free form jazz. Kerouac recorded many sessions with famous jazz musicians who provided soundscapes to his spoken word. Most recently, three previously unpublished manuscripts by Jack Kerouac, written in French, have been uncovered -almost 40 years after his death, and it is now known that the original manuscript for On The Road was written in French.

Raised in Texas, George Rideout moved to Thunder Bay, Ontario at the age of sixteen. He lived in several different provinces before settling for good in the Eastern Townships of Québec. Many of his plays reflect his fascination with cross-cultural relationships, particularly as they exist in times of great social change. Those plays include Texas Boy (which has had more than thirty different productions), The Longstreth Line, Walking on the Moon, 689 Spadina Ave., The Austin Texas Twist Championship, Dead Together, The Tall Girl, An Anglophone is Coming to Dinner and now Michel & ti-Jean.

The Centaur world premiere of Michel & ti-Jean is directed by Sarah Garton Stanley, whom Centaur audiences will know for her work on Age of Arousal, Forever Yours, Marie-Lou and Glorious!,and stars Alain Goulem (most recently seen in Centaur's production of Doubt) as ti-Jean (a.k.a. Jack Kerouac) and Vincent Hoss-Desmarais in his Centaur debut, as the young Michel Tremblay.

 

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