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Les Belles Soeurs

Les Belles Soeurs
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Michel Tremblay
Translated by: Bill Glassco & John Van Burek
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 111
Pub. Date: 1972
ISBN-10: 0889223025
ISBN-13: 9780889223028
Cast Size: 15 women

About the Play:

Les Belles Soeurs (English-language version) is a full-length comedy by Michel Tremblay, translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco. A housewife wins a million trading stamps in a lottery. When she throws a party to get some help pasting her newly-won savings stamps into books, she unwittingly unleashes a flood of frustration from other women in the neighbourhood. This social and political satire is driven home with vicious and bawdy humour in this Québécois stage classic.

Les Belles Soeurs is set in an impoverished Montreal neighbourhood in the late 1960s. Germaine Lauzon has won a million Gold Star trading stamps – given out by grocery stores and exchanged for goods like BBQs and lawn chairs. Her head swimming with dreams of refurbishing and redecorating her working-class home from top to bottom with free merchandise selections from the catalogue. And she just can't help gloating about her stroke of fortune. She invites fourteen of her friends and relatives in the neighbourhood over to help her paste the stamps into redemption booklets. Raucous, reckless and rude, the women shamelessly share their most secret hopes and fears, complain stridently about their friends and relatives, fantasize wistfully about escaping the misogynist drudgery of their lives, the church, and their small joys – like Bingo. What Germaine doesn't realize is that while the women are talking, they are surreptitiously tucking most of the stamps into their purses and clothing, self-righteously appropriating what they consider to be Germaine's "illegitimate" good fortune.

Les Belles Soeurs premiered in 1968 at Théâtre du Rideau Vert in Montréal, Quebec, the same year that René Lévesque founded the nationalist Parti Québécois, and became an overnight success. It is the most produced Québecois play and has been translated into more than 30 languages and presented in over 25 countries. The English version translated by Bill Glassco and John Van Burek English premiered in 1973 at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto, Ontario.

Cast: 15 women

What people say:

"This was the play that marked a changing of the guard in Quebec theatre, and maybe even Quebec society. In the play's language, and in his choice of subject matter and characters, Tremblay brought the Quiet Revolution to the stage. He approached the subject of class in an honourable way. His characters were working-class people, they were intelligent, and he deeply respected them." — The Book of Lists

"When a play catches up with you on the ride home and you can't tell your tears from the rain on your windshield—well, that's the power of Michel Tremblay's award-winning script, Les Belles-soeurs … it's easy to understand why Les Belles-soeurs is Tremblay's most popular and widely translated play. Almost 50 years later, the text still feels incendiary and its subject matter groundbreaking." — Georgia Straight

"Lively and boisterous… an all-female cast who keep the laughs coming." — Broadway World

"A tart but human satire on Canadian life and aspirations." — Vancouver Sun

"Tremblay's Les belles-soeurs is on all counts a masterpiece… This play cannot be missed, buy a ticket at any cost and… hang on to your seat!" — Le Devoir (Montréal)

"Tremblay combines naturalism with the choral asides which sum up, focus and carry forward the play. If the details of social hypocrisy and oppression are parochial, the broad themes are not, and the play remains as fresh now as then." — Buffalo News

About the Playwright:

Michel Tremblay has been a dominant figure of Québec's theatre scene since the end of the 1960s. One of the most produced and the most prominent playwrights in the history of Canadian theatre, he has received countless prestigious honours and accolades. His dramatic, literary and autobiographical works have long enjoyed remarkable international popularity, including translations of his plays that have achieved huge success in Europe, the Americas and the Middle East.

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