Richmond’s Gateway Theatre opens its 2018-2019 season with the Ruby Slippers Theatre production of Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles-soeurs.
This classic of Canadian theatre is the story of 1960’s Montreal housewife Germaine Lauzon who has collected one million stamps from her local grocery store, enough to exchange for goods to redecorate her home. Quickly becoming the envy of her working-class neighbourhood, she invites family and friends over for a stamp-licking party where they talk of the men in their life, the joy of bingo, and of course, the church. As the conversations heat up though, something else is taking place that may very well tear the neighbourhood apart.
Here are five reasons we think you should go:
1. The playwright
Michel Tremblay grew up in Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood, where Les Belles-soeurs is set. Considered by some as one of the best playwrights for women, he remains one of our country’s most celebrated playwrights. With a universal appeal, the award-winning Quebec writer’s works have been widely translated and produced around the world.
2. Changing the face of Quebec theatre
According to the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, Les Belles-soeurs “changed much of what was believed to be Quebec culture; language, the form of theatre”. When it was first presented in 1967 the play “set off a storm of controversy” for its language and portrayal of “working class women doing working class things”.
3. 50th anniversary production
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Tremblay’s biting comedy. Since it first appeared on stage, it remains one of his most produced works.
3. Professional premiere
This production marks the professional premiere of the English-language version of the play in Vancouver.
4. 15 women on stage (and another in the director’s chair)
Tremblay’s play features roles for 15 women and director Diane Brown has assembled a who’s who of the Vancouver stage: Patti Allan, Daria Banu, Eileen Barrett, Lucia Frangione, Emilie Leclerc, Pippa Mackie, Melissa Oei, France Perras, Sarah May Redmond, Sarah Rodgers, Kerry Sandomirsky, Ariel Slack, Agnes Tong, Tallulah Winkelman and Beatrice Zeilinger.
5. Furthering its mandate
Vancouver’s Ruby Slippers Theatre continues its mandate by producing plays with the voices of diverse women, and strengthening cross-cultural diversity by premiering Quebec works in English translation.
Les Belles-soeurs continues at Gateway Theatre (6500 Gilbert Road, Richmond) until October 6. Visit gatewaytheatre.com for tickets and information.