Backyard Theatre


A whimsical look at Michel Tremblay’s world of characters. The most prolific playwright in Québec since the end the 1960s, Tremblay sees his work translated and presented to English audiences for the first time in 1972. To celebrate, characters from his plays are getting together for an afternoon party in the backyard. We are introduced formally to the Tremblay/Brassard tandem that has revolutionized Quebec Theater mostly for their use of joual in dialog but also for their representation of drag queens, queers and marginals in a non-caricatured way. In interview they reflect on their work and its importance as it is representing Quebec’s establishing of its own identity in the modern era.

In the small apartments of the plateau, the elderly characters of Les Belles Soeurs are hosting this party where they will, unknowingly, mingle with the likes of drag queen characters La Duchesse de Langeais, Sandra and Butch hailing from Demain matin Montréal m’attend. The world of cabarets and nightclubs will clash with the world of the Plateau and housewives, two typical settings of Tremblay’s plays. Strangely enough, characters speak in English with one another, even though they all hail from a francophone background (all this to appeal to the English viewership, the film doesn’t exist in a French version though French and English are heard at some point or another). In the film's climax, one of the drag queens decides to perform a striptease as a thank you to their hosts. Outraged and shocked, the belles soeurs chase them out of the backyard into the backstreets while screaming insults at them. Tremblay and Brassard are then stuck with the task of cleaning up the backyard.

The film, part of the Adieu Alouetteseries from the NFB, was set to promote Quebec culture outside of its territory and was allegedly directed by Jean-Pierre Lefebvre. The piece was heavily cut down to fit NFB’s model for the series and his name does not appear in the credits.

Major prizes