Many people and a few events have left their mark on me and made me who I am. A big part of my life has been initiated, developed and embraced thanks to certain women who have lit a spark in my creative imagination.
My mother was the first person to take me to the theater. I was 7. She was playing in a rather bad play at our parrish hall in les Méchins. I don’t remember the staging, nor the costumes or even the story, nothing in fact but the immense sense of pride I felt at seeing my mom speak like women on tv on the cracking floor of that dim stage. Nonetheless, it was my first contact with a cultural event. Thanks Mom!
Time went by. Then came my encounter with the greatest actress Québec has ever produced: Denise Pelletier. This time I was at the Jésù Theater. She played a queen in Le Roi se meurt. She was life itself. She was death. She was e-ve-ry thing. Breath, emotion, scream, whisper, silence. Magnificent and fiercely present. I was irremediably awe struck. She’s the one who inspired me to get involved in the theater. Some time later, I paid a visit to the costumier at Radio-Canada and bought from him the blue velvet cape she had worn in that fateful play. I kept it for years as a kind of holy relic, a lucky charm, an inspiration. Thank you Madam Pelletier !
And then came Françoise Sullivan, whom we used to call Françoise Riopelle. I was studying for my bachelor’s degree and had the privilege to be in her class. I knew nothing of her, had no clue about her serious involvement in culture québécoise and her role in the Refus global manifesto or the importance of her artistic approach. I was 20. And for a year, she helped me discover myself through theater. After class, a few of us lucky ones went to her place to practice improvisation in her huge living room where paintings of her illustrous ex-husband Jean-Paul Riopelle set the tone. Thank you Françoise!
So many women have shaped the face of our culture. Sometimes they took the front of the stage. More often than not, they walked in the shadows. I am grateful to those women from our past and of today who bore the eternal flame of artistry. Thanks to Thérèse, Janette, Yvette, Francine, Céline, Marie, Nelly and some many others for nurturing our heritage. The next generation of women benefit from a broader horizon because of you. Thank you.