Printer Friendly

Mapping Jouissance: insights from a case study in the schizophrenia of Canadian drama.

To read is to compare.--George Steiner, What Is Comparative Literature?

In The Map and the Garden, John Vernon identifies two forms of schizophrenia that together frame the most common features of twentieth-century literature and culture: one the alienation of division, compartmentalization, separation (the map); the other, the absence of distinctions, the compulsion to see the world as inseparable, natural, erotic, and always whole (the garden). (1) Vernon's contrast of "map" and "garden" shows a striking potential to absorb various contrastive analyses of English Canadian and Quebecois literatures, including the double-axis hypothesis highlighted by Jean-Charles Falardeau (1959) in which English Canadian literature is seen to operate on a horizontal axis (individuals in relation to each other and society) in contrast to the vertical axis (of man in relation to the cosmos) of Quebecois writing; (2) Clara Thomas's characterization of English Canadian literature as masculine, linear, and Protestant formed under the image of Robinson Crusoe in opposition to the cyclical, feminine, and Catholic perspectives of a French Canadian writing dominated by the fable of the "Precious Kingdom" (1972); (3) Philip Stratford's stylistic analysis of the typical Canadian novel as outward looking and preoccupied with realism and historical perspective in contrast to the inward looking, subjective, and deeply coded roman quebecois (1986); (4) and McLuhanesque speculations on English Canadian literate/visual stylistics cast in relief against Quebecois orality (1990). (5) The map/garden axis also seems receptive to Sylvia Soderlind's "at-homedness" thesis, which contrasts the "absolute, almost sacred, identity between name and thing, language and territory" in the Quebecois novel in contrast to the English Canadian novel in which "language becomes a plastic, though tough and resistant material" that is separable from the territory it un-names and names. (6) Noticeably, studies of the novel have dominated comparative studies of English Canadian and Quebecois literatures. (7)

In addition to the numerous, most obvious reasons why there has been a paucity of research comparing English Canadian and Quebecois drama--the language barrier, the dominance of novel and film, lack of awareness of Canadian theater--we can add the opposition of postmodern criticism to generalization (as risking totalization or essentialism) and to binary analyses (as rigid, biased, and exclusionary). Vernon's schizophrenias of map and garden resist the tendency to exclude difference and alterity or to privilege a centrist or structuralist tradition. Relative to the garden, the map is a minor form, but Anglo-American societies happen to perceive it as dominant and central. Binary contrasts of English Canada and Quebec seem typically to apply the privileged signifiers of traditional Western culture (and the map) to English Canada--masculine over feminine, realist over religious, objective over subjective, individualistic over collective--but in Vernon's analysis, garden and map are not opposites, are not mutually exclusive, because the garden includes and infuses all, including the map.

Though Vernon bases The Garden and the Map on the work of novelist William Burroughs and poet Theodore Roethke, both of whom have been diagnosed as schizophrenic, the playwrights whose work I wish to consider--David Fennario and Michel Tremblay--strike me as models of mental health. What I wish to isolate in this comparison are differences of style, at once the most pervasive and the most inscrutable element of any writer's work. At the same time, I take to heart Raymond Williams's claim concerning sociocultural change that "the actual alternative to the received and produced fixed forms is not silence: not the absence, the unconscious, which bourgeois culture has mythicized.... What really changes is something quite general, over a wide range, and the description that often fits the change best is the literary term `style'." (8)

Canadian comparativists who have pointed to the similarity between Quebecois and Canadian literatures have done so by emphasizing thematics or shared patterns of mythology. (9) In addition to being the mark of cultural difference and change, I take style to be no less than a writer's unique choice and arrangement of words and therefore as the ultimate difference between and among writers. In the case of a playwright we must also consider the complementarity and/or incongruity among the script, the production, and the performance of a play. While style may be personal in writing, it becomes collective in the theater, and it is also determined by sociocultural context and, in addition, by the semiautonomous history of art and art forms.

Michel Tremblay has had a long and close collaboration with a cohort of actors and his director Andre Brassard. Tremblay has enjoyed such synergy with and influence on Quebecois culture that one could argue he has defined Quebecois culture as much as it has defined him. His work has been the subject of eight books (including Louise Vigeant's Une Etude de A roi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou, dedicated to this one play), a number of documentary films, and innumerable articles and theses. The Dictionnaire des oeuvres litteraires du Quebec 1970-75 lists over 150 reviews, articles, and theses on A roi, pour toujours alone. (10) Tremblay's work has been widely imitated and used as a basis of television, film, and other theater productions. Although recognized as a Quebecois nationalist, he has long been English Canada's favorite play-wright and Canada's (and Quebec's) most acclaimed playwright internationally. In 1999 he was awarded Canada's Governor General's Award for Drama. Tremblay was also chosen to write the "International Message" for UNESCO's "World Theater Day," 27 March 2000.

David Fennario's career, on the other hand, has been an ongoing struggle against the sociocultural (which he would underscore as political) forces that have attempted to determine his writing. He is a rarity both as a long-time avowed Marxist-Leninist and as an English Quebecer who has publicly declared himself in favor of the province's independence. Despite being a high school dropout who had seen only two plays in his life, Fennario was invited to write for English Quebec's main stage, the Centaur Theatre, by then artistic director Maurice Podbrey, on the basis of his published diary Without a Parachute. As Fennario describes the situation: "I started out on the main stage and have been working my way backward ever since--and doing a pretty good job of it lately." (11) In fact, Fennario began his career by writing for the Centaur four generally well-received plays, including Balconville, which won the Chalmers Award as best Canadian play of 1979 and remains one of the most popular plays ever in the English Canadian dramatic canon. However, his growing political and artistic awareness and concomitant tenacity brought him into conflict with a succession of directors, alienated him from the bourgeois enclave of Centaur Theatre, and, finally, compelled him to repudiate exactly those plays that have been the basis of his success--including and especially Balconville. (12)

As Canada's leading working-class playwright, Fennario has been the subject of two documentary films and a handful of scholarly articles. His plays have been produced on film and broadcast on Canadian television, and, over the years, he has frequently been interviewed in the Canadian press. Despite protests from the readership, his contract as a weekly columnist with the Montreal Gazette was terminated, and, although he continues to present one-man shows in the theater, he describes his present status as being "black listed." Although Fennario may not stand as a representative of the English-Canadian cultural mainstream, his play Balconville is in many ways a construction of that mainstream. (13)

However, Balconville, because it was written by Fennario, allows us to view the English Canadian dramatic canon in close proximity to Franco-Quebecois drama. The comparison of Balconville and A roi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou offers a quite unique opportunity to isolate and interpret a number of contrasting stylistic tendencies that might later be considered against a broader sample of cultural artifacts. Tremblay was twenty-nine when A toi, pour toujours, his eighth play, was first produced in 1971. Fennario was thirty-two when Balconville, his fifth play, premiered in 1979. In terms of style, A toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou is marked, as are almost all of Tremblay's plays, by the use of joual. The term joual is derived from the claim that a typical accent of Quebec led to the pronunciation of the word cheval as "joual." Prior to Tremblay's first successful play, Les Belles-Soeurs, joual was generally denigrated as an unfortunate marker of the uneducated, a language contaminated by both English vocabulary and translations of English expressions that were not part of the French idiom and sacrilegious oaths (the typical form of swearing in Quebec). Language choice was also a major issue in Balconville. It is typically described as Canada's first bilingual play; about one-third of the dialogue is in French. The language register of Fennario's plays (including Balconville) also raised censorious brows, largely because of the frequency of the typical forms of English Canadian and American swearing (that is, references to sex and body parts and functions). Fennario has often commented that swearing is a necessary representation of working-class bitterness and outrage. He has also wryly observed that "where I come from, `fuck' is punctuation." (14)

Both plays are set in disadvantaged, working-class, ghettoized neighborhoods of Montreal: the Plateau Mont-Royal (A roi, pour toujours) and Pointe Saint-Charles (Balconville). A roi, pour toujours' four characters amalgamate the features of most of Balconville's nine. The plot of A roi, pour toujours centers on Carmen's returning to her family home, ten years after the death of her parents and younger brother in a car crash, to try to drag her moribund, reclusive, obsessively religious sister, Manon, out of the house. Carmen, who has escaped the oppression of her family home by working in a local bar, is typically interpreted as the one character in the play who has achieved personal liberty. She is paralleled by Johnny Regan and Tom Williams, the rebellious free spirits of Balconville who share her fantasies of careers in pop music. Carmen can also be likened to Irene, Johnny's wife, who calls the community to action against the oppression it endures, and to young Diane Paquette, who is a similar icon of lurid sexuality and sexual liberation. Both Leopold (A roi, pour toujours) and Paquette (Balconville) are beer-drinking Quebecois de souche ("old stock Franco-Quebecers," literally "from the stump") and blue-collar factory workers. Leopold, like Balconville's Thibault, is an alcoholic and on the edge of madness. Finally we can find much of the characters of Marie-Louise and Manon in Cecile, the traditional, stalwart, religious Quebecoise, and Muriel Williams, the bitter, ill, and now abandoned wife and mother. Gaetan Bolduc, the local candidate for the Liberal Party in the ongoing election, is the only Balconville character whose distinctive features cannot be found in A roi, pour toujours. The Bolduc character was not in the original productions of the play but was added as Fennario attempted to make the forces of political oppression more visible onstage and to bring home an epic-theater-style message of the need for political change.

Tremblay and Fennario share and write from the perspective of working-class backgrounds. As a boy, Tremblay won a scholarship to one of Quebec's most prestigious college classique (a traditional private high school with strong liberal arts curriculum) but left after three months. Nonetheless the influence of the literary classics is obvious in the intertextuality and poetic style of Tremblay's work and in the kinds of projects he has taken on: translating the classics and preparing the libretto of an opera. Based on his accounts in his autobiographical work Blue Mondays, the misery of Fennario's high school career was inexorable. (15) Returning to his old high school to request the proof of attendance required so that he could begin college as an adult student was a wrenching experience for him. His writing remains firmly attached to a Marxist, working-class ethos and resistant to bourgeois "literary" influences.

Homoeroticism is also a distinguishing feature and major element of Tremblay's work. His play Hosanna was a groundbreaking treatment of homosexuality and transvestism, and many of his subsequent plays--most notably, Damnee Manon, sacree Sandra and Messe solennelle--have been explicit portrayals of homosexuality. Incidents and issues in Fennario's writing mark it (and him) as distinctly heterosexual, however.

My hypothesis, then, is that while the differences between the plays might be marginally accounted for through a consideration of divergence of literary, theatrical, political, or personal styles, A toi, pour toujours and Balconville emerge from and are exemplary of garden and map cultures respectively. The garden, as Vernon outlines it, "unites opposites and enables all areas of experience to be accessible to each other" (xii). Vernon describes the tentative and occasional shift in twentieth-century consciousness from map to garden as moving "from the separation of opposites and the fragmentation of experience to the unity of opposites and the wholeness of experience." He goes on to explain: "This shift is a kind of progression, but it is also, in a sense, a regression, since ... the garden is the structure of primitive cultures as well. The garden is also the structure of primary experience, of the world of the child; it is the structure of our perceptions when those perceptions are freed from cultural repression" (xii).

The garden tendencies of Michel Tremblay's drama are revealed in the kind of "holy theatre" (16) of magic, madness, absurdism, ritualism, transcendentalism, romanticism, and the poetic that he has created. We can trace the roots of the Tremblay's garden-style drama in his avowed lineage of the Greek tragedians, Chekhov, Beckett, and Tennessee Williams as well as his penchants for opera, musicality, affect, libido, and the gloriously tawdry and tacky. The objective of his dramaturgy is an imaginative, sensual, ecstatic alternative to and paradoxical convergence with the Catholicism and family life he so often vilifies as suffocating and torturous. Concomitantly, his drama exemplifies the spirituality, subjectivity, and sensuality that Canadian comparativists have associated with Quebec's literature and which we can, in turn, relate to the priorities of the garden. David Fennario's "rough theatre," (17) in keeping with the map, is distinctly linear and horizontal, masculine, materialist, objective, and referential. Nonetheless, the plays at issue are close enough that Fennario has quipped, "A lot of people I meet think that Michel Tremblay wrote Balconville; so I tell them I wrote Les Belles-Soeurs!" (18)

The map/garden tendencies of the plays become most visible in their respective treatments of jouissance, on one hand, and the technological universe, on the other. Although jouissance is the raw root energy of Fennario's drama, his political intentions as well as the imposition of a traditional formula (well-made play) and style (realism) on the apprenticing playwright by directors and the Centaur Theatre resulted in narrative structures and cooled-down, flattened, authentic slice-of-everyday-life presentations that mapped and contained appetites, sensuality, and passions in his early plays. The map is a source of pleasure because it is edifying, colorful, well structured, artful, and the pleasures to which it refers offer some potential for vicarious enjoyment. As such, Balconville's treatment of pleasure is visual, distanced, referential, discursive, controlled, ironic, and in perspective. In contrast A roi, pour toujours offers a garden in which jouissance can overgrow the standard limits of form and style. It is oral, visceral, affective, immediate, surrounding, transgressive, unconstrained, and lyrical. Jouissance, more than a theme, is the raison d'etre of most of Michel Tremblay's drama.

Anglo-American familiarity with the term jouissance is typically connected to psychoanalysis, particularly the work of Jacques Lacan. For example, in The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance, Bruce Fink offers the following explanation of jouissance:
 Given, however, that the subject casts the Other's desire in the role most
 exciting to the subject, that pleasure may turn to disgust and even to
 horror, there being no guarantee that what is most exciting to the subject
 is also most pleasurable. That excitement, whether correlated with a
 conscious feeling of pleasure or pain, is what the French call
 jouissance.... This pleasure--this excitation due to sex, seeing, and/or
 violence, whether positively or negatively viewed by conscience, whether
 considered innocently pleasurable or disgustingly repulsive--is termed
 jouissance, and that is what the subject orchestrates for him or herself in

 Jouissance is thus what comes to substitute for the lost "mother-child
 unity," a unity which was perhaps never as united as all that since it was
 a unity owing only to the child's sacrifice or foregoing subjectivity. We
 can imagine a kind of jouissance before the letter ... corresponding to an
 unmediated relation between mother and child, a real connection between
 them.... (19)

Fink's analysis shows the challenge of taking a "garden variety" word from French and attempting to "map" it in English. His attempt to categorize the notion of jouissance as specific to the thrill of sexual fantasy exoticizes the term. And, as we can see, the definition specified in the first paragraph is overtly contradicted in the second. If jouissance is specific to sexual fantasy, voyeurism, and violence, then reference to the jouissance "corresponding to an unmediated relation between mother and child" undermines the logical structures within which the term is being mapped.

Fink is not alone; in fact, he is typical in attributing challenging forms of specificity to jouissance. In The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, Michael P. Clark claims:
 Among the terms Lacan introduced to psychoanalytic discourse during these
 years [1964-73], one of the most influential was jouissance. He describes
 jouissance as an experience of pleasure ordinarily associated with sexual
 climax, and its prominence in his work echoes the importance of sexuality
 to ordinary Freudian psychoanalysis. For Lacan, however, jouissance
 discloses an intricate interdependence between sexuality and the symbolic
 that subordinates the body to the law of the signifier. (20)

Having mapped jouissance as "ordinarily associated with sexual climax" Clark goes on in the same paragraph to offer a contradictory sense of the same word when he writes: "Lacan claims flatly in Le Seminaire livre XX: Encore that there is no such thing as sexual relations. This impossibility lifts the significance of sexual pleasure from the biological realm of satisfaction to the level of jouissance...." (21)

That Lacan would have "introduced" the term jouissance to psychoanalytic discourse or that he would have described it "as an experience of pleasure ordinarily associated with sexual climax" are odd claims: first, because the term jouissance would have been common knowledge to anyone who spoke French; and, second, because his description would have been a tautology (that is, Lacan's supposed description approaches the dictionary definition of the word). We might wish to attribute to Lacan an expansion or redefinition or innovative usage of jouissance, but we should also be aware of Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont's skeptical assessments, in Impostures intellectuelles, of Lacan's topological definition of the term:
 In the years which followed, Lacan became more and more infatuated with
 topology. A text going back to 1972 begins by playing with etymology.

 In this space of jouissance, to take something limited, closed, it is a
 site, and to speak of it, a topology.

 In this sentence Lacan uses four mathematical terms (space, limited,
 closed, topology) but without taking into account their meanings; this
 sentence means nothing from a mathematical point of view. Furthermore,
 Lacan nowhere explains the pertinence of these mathematical concepts for
 psycho-analysis. Even if jouissance had a clear and precise meaning in
 psychology, Lacan gives no reason which would allow us to consider
 jouissance as a "space" in the technical sense of the word in topology.

In Le Plaisir du Texte, Roland Barthes struggles with the distinction between plaisir and jouissance and notes that jouissance emerges from a break with culture, from rhythm, repetition, excess, hysteria; that it is asocial, amoral, perverse, illogical, countercultural, subversive, radically new, abrupt, nonstandard, exceptional, explosive. Barthes writes, "I have to distinguish feelings of fullness, well-being, satisfaction and comfort (where culture permeates freely) from the tremors, the shaking and loss proper to jouissance" (23) Although the term never seems completely to lose its sexual connotation and denotative connection with "orgasm" in French, English readers need to be conscious that jouissance is as widely used a word in French as "pleasure" and "enjoyment" are in English. The etymological roots of the French jouissance and the English "enjoyment" are the same. The specificity, the difference, of jouissance in relation to "pleasure" or "enjoyment" in English is precisely that it is a more "garden variety" word. It suggests greater intensity because it connotes the immediate, the abrupt, the affective, the extreme, and unexpected. Its greater intensity is also related to the fact that it is "common" in all the senses of the word: it is ubiquitous and unbounded; it is vulgar, ordinary, transgressive, unbridled, and sexual as well as aesthetic, spiritual, and religious. That its usage frequently seems contradictory, illogical, and paradoxical signals that it is "map unfriendly" and most at home in the culture of the garden.

Using the map/garden axis in the consideration of jouissance not only casts in relief many of the tendencies of English Canadian drama in relation to Quebecois but helps us to better read the plays of Michel Tremblay. In the case at hand, the character of Carmen has been the focal point of contradictory reactions to and interpretations of A wi, pour toujours. In his introduction to the play Michel Belair has established the typical reading of Carmen as the exception to the rule which governs the other characters:
 Carmen does not repeat any of Tremblay's typical characters. At first
 glance however, we might associate her with the Pierrette character of
 Belles-Soeurs; looking a bit closer, however, we have to admit that the
 resemblance is far from striking.... The Carmen character attained, for the
 first time in Tremblay's work, a maturity and a complete autonomy
 consistent with happiness. (24)

In a 1972 interview, Tremblay himself would fairly directly contradict this analysis by pointing out that "Carmen gets out of her milieu to go sing Western tunes at Le Rodeo. It is there that she finds her happiness. But let's not delude ourselves: for her the game is not yet won. She might find success just as much as she might `turn out badly' the way Pierrette Guerin did in Les Belles-Soeurs." (25)

Not surprisingly, then, Carmen would be at the center of confusion over the translation and reception of A toi, pour toujours in English Canada. In her essay "Surviving Translation: Forever Yours, Marie-Lou at Tarragon Theater" Renee Hulan notes the critics' "singling out Carmen." (26) Hulan claims that "the language [of the 1972 translated script] rubbed up against the sensibilities of the Toronto audience even though it represents a sanitized version of the original characters' speech." (27) She argues that the "cleaned up" version of the play "redefined Carmen" in a fashion that exacerbated the English critics' antagonism toward the character. According to Hulan, "Carmen's poor reviews cannot be attributed to her diluted profanity alone. For some reason, she remains `other' for the critics whose reviews react against her rather than consider her interaction with and contextualization by other characters, both of which are factors in her plausibility and function." (28)

Although it is clear that English critics reacted quite differently from Quebecois critics (like Belair) to the Carmen character, Hulan's argument actually demonstrates the limitations of her "forensic approach." (29) She builds her argument by attempting to reconstruct the performances based on the various translations (1972 prompt script, 1975 and 1990 published versions) and on newspaper reviews. The shortcoming of this approach, which fails to take into account the performance that the critics actually saw, is perhaps obvious. However, the two English-language productions of Forever Yours, Marie-Lou that I have seen--the Theatre Plus production in Toronto in 1975 and the Festival Lennoxville presentation, directed by Andre Brassard (Tremblay's long-time collaborator) in 1977--were striking in terms of the remarkably different Carmens they created. In the Toronto production, Carmen, in her final climactic scene, did a striptease, removing her blouse to reveal her breasts covered only with pastes. This version of Carmen was particularly concupiscent, mean-spirited, and egocentric. Not only had she just declared that she was happy her parents were dead (as indicated in the script), but she was now performing a striptease as an affront to her staid religious sister. Furthermore, far from showing maturity and self-awareness, the scene highlights Carmen as the most misguided character in the play. She had failed to see the truth about how her family had died (the play dearly suggests a murder-suicide, as Manon has been insisting), and she seems to be deluding herself that she is a captivating singer when the members of the audience can see for themselves that she is a stripper.

Although neither the Lennoxville production nor the French-language performance of the play I have seen (nor the published versions of the script) included a striptease, Carmen's lines do seem to support the interpretation of the Theatre Plus production: "Pis chus tellement contente de m'etre debarrassee de tout c'qu'y s'est passe dans c'te maudite prisonla .... Les hommes, dans'salle, y me regardent.... pis y m'aiment.... C'est jamais les memes, y changent a chaque soir, mais a chaque soir, j'les ai!" (30) In the 1975 publication of the English version of the play, John Van Burek and Bill Glassco translated these lines: "And I'm so glad to be free of all the shit that went on in this place.... The men in the audience, they look at me.... And they love me.... They're never the same, they change every night. But every night, Manon, they're mine!" (31) Moreover, in the 1970s at Le Rodeo, the actual Montreal bar to which the play refers, patrons could expect to hear a Country and Western singer and see a striptease in the same evening. (Le Rodeo would serve as the setting of Tremblay's next play, Sainte Carmen de la Main, which featured Carmen in the role of tragic heroine.) Whether accidental or due to research, the Toronto production created a realistic image of the site of Carmen's liberation.

Hulan presents the stereotypical argument that the English Canadian Toronto version of the play must be "cleaned up" and "sanitized" in relation to the Quebecois Montreal original by focusing on Carmen's and Marie-Louise's minor speeches, but she ignores the striking difference between the 1975 translation and the 1971 French-language original's wording of the play's most central and salient episode. At issue in this case is the translation of the French word cul. Just as attempts to map the word jouissance have tended to exoticize not only the word but all speakers of the French language, Van Burek and Glassco's translation of Leopold's climactic keynote speech promotes a salacious English Canadian perception of a carnal and unseemly Quebec. To put the speech in context, Leopold claims that he has had sex with his wife only four times in the nearly twenty years that they have been married. Marie-Louise confirms that each of the four times Leopold raped her in a drunken stupor she has become pregnant--and she is now pregnant with their fourth child. Having built up to his declaration for some time, Leopold finally announces to his wife and the children, who he knows are listening on the other side of the door: "Ben oui, c'est encore ca ... Ecoutez, vous autres, la, les senteux ... Pis meme toi, Carmen, qui trouve ca drole ... Votre mere, la, a l'a toujours eu un probleme, pis l'aura toujours: le cull" (83).

The word cul can be literally translated as "bum" or "ass" and is used colloquially as a metonym for sex. However, the word is also used in a wide variety of common expressions with no bawdy connotations and, as a result, the word tends to be neutralized and domesticated in French usage. In their translation, Van Burek and Glassco made the speech thunderously dramatic, but they did so by drastically changing its register. The English version of Leopold's speech becomes: "That's what it is all right. Now get this, you nosey brats, you too, Carmen, if you think it's so funny. Your mother here's got a problem. She's always had it, and she always will. It's her CUNT" (72). The translation exaggerates the impropriety of the characters, but that exaggeration is pushed even further by Marie-Louise's reaction line: "Leopold! Roger's too young for that!"--as if to suggest that a Quebecois mother might find this acceptable vocabulary for a father to use with his pubescent daughters. On top of all this we have Hulan's thesis inadvertently promoting the view that the English translations tend to be "cleaned up," "sanitized" versions of the French-language original.

Although the Theatre Plus production and the Van Burek/Glassco translation are arguably "off the map," these recalibrations of the play do bring home intimations of jouissance to English audiences. The problem--and the insight--which becomes apparent in the shift from one form of schizophrenia to the other, is that elements that are transferred from garden to map must be made more extreme in order to have an impact, to register internally with an audience that is adapted to compartmentalization, referentiality, flat affect, coolness, distance, and separation--that is, the world dominated by map culture. Conversely, in a world where everything is connected (to speak in ideal terms) even a low-key theatrical performance can become an unbounded source of jouissance, a word can seem less transgressive and still signal the jouissance of a break-through, and, in turn, that jouissance can be transmitted to and absorbed by an audience with greater ease.

Carmen may, in many senses, be exceptional, but she cannot be distinguished from the other characters as a liberated individual who has found happiness, as Belair insists. Carmen, as her name suggests via Merimee, Bizet, and Saura, is simply a leading example of what all the characters in the play have in common: a moment of jouissance. The central argument of the play concerns Leopold's and Marie-Louise's failure to discover sexual jouissance together. To a severe degree each of the characters struggles with isolation and oppression, but even within his or her solitude each has and reveals to the audience a real or imagined moment of jouissance. For Leopold his time of extreme pleasure is sitting in the tavern enveloped in the thick fog of drunkenness and ordering himself a table full of draft beer, which he will eventually overturn, climactically, onto the floor. For Marie-Louise it is basking in the light of the television set while knitting as she fantasizes that Leopold has been taken to the madhouse and that she is the object of the sympathy of all her friends and relatives. For Carmen it is the satisfaction and illusion of freedom that she garners from her exhibitionism at Le Rodeo. Manon's jouissance is to be found in church and the chapel-like environment she has created in the family home. Her religious piety and her martyr like existence are, Carmen argues, a substitute for sexual jouissance.

In Tremblay's later plays we see extrapolations of these reflections on jouissance. For example, in his play Damnee Manon, sacree Sandra, Tremblay parallels the life and erotic pleasures of Sandra, the transvestite male prostitute, with the religious ecstasy of Manon, who lives in the apartment next door to him/her. The playwright's reflections on the metaphysical connections between religion and sexuality reach their apotheosis in his play Messe solennelle pour une pleine lune d'ete, which is a mass about relationships and sexuality. In Marcel poursuivi par les chiens, the central character Therese is a nude dancer-waitress in a Montreal bar and exemplifies the jouissance of Carmen's exhibitionism, of Leopold's alcoholism, and of Marie-Louise's fetishistic desire to have a baby exclusively for herself and her own pleasure.

What we discover in A toi, pour toujours is the extreme reciprocity between its central theme and episodes of jouissance and the play's style. Tremblay himself describes the construction of the plays as "a string quartet. I wrote this play like a piece of music; that is to say, I constructed the two conversations [that of Leopold and Marie-Lou, that of Manon and Carmen] in a way that the characters speak about the same subject at the same time but across an interval of ten years." (32)

A roi, pour toujours' dominant stylistic features are its musicality and its subversion and sublimation of objective time and space. Though the prefatory stage directions tell us that the play takes place in 1961 and 1971, there are no references to these years within the dramatic dialogue, and, in fact, what we hear contradicts the notion that the action takes place in what we would conventionally think of as a particular time and place. Leopold and Marie-Louise died in 1961, but their dialogue is interrupted, countered, echoed, mocked, and answered by lines spoken by Carmen and Manon in 1971. There are references to le Rodeo (the Main), St-Laurent, and Metropolitan Boulevards, Texaco, and the tabloid magazine Allo Police within the play, but these sparse sociogeographical markers are presented from a kitchen, a living room, and a tavern floating somewhere in a transcendental cosmos. Each of these sets is in a different, occasionally penetrable, largely subjective, time frame and is occupied by characters who never exit their assigned areas, but somehow, magically, interaction and a drama are carried out.

Though Balconville is typically advertized as Canada's first bilingual play and the back balconies of "the Pointe" seem an enclosed, vaguely tribal environment, the play is the mapping of that milieu which necessarily displays map/garden differences between the Anglophone and Francophone characters, largely to the disadvantage of the latter. For example, all the Anglo characters show some sense of horizontal time and space. "Getting out" and "moving on" are repeated themes among the English speakers. Tom attempts to hitchhike to New York City but only gets as far as Ormstown. Muriel talks of her husband, who is a sailor. Johnny brags about pulling off his "midnight move" as soon as his UIC check arrives. (33) Even Irene talks about her chances of remarrying and reminisces about her old boyfriend who is now a teacher in N.D.G. (Notre-Dame-de-Grace, a middle-class Montreal neighborhood). The Francophone characters seem governed by some unspoken notion of fate; they never speak in terms of somewhere out there being a solution or even a possibility. In fact, "out there" hardly exists.

The ironic distance and horizontal map perspective of the play result in the inevitable diminution and some mockery of the garden penchants of the Francophone characters. For example, we are charmed by Cecile's gentle disposition, her connections with nature, her tending to plants and birds, her knowledge of the constellations, and her attachment to church and home life, but her ignorance of world geography marks and mocks her. When Paquette loses his job because the company is moving to Taiwan, Cecile is at a loss as to why the company can't take her husband on the move. She later asks if Taiwan isn't in Vermont. The counterpointing tendency is explicit in A roi, pour toujours. Though Carmen is described and describes herself as having escaped, that escape is psychological or spiritual but not geographic. As Manon reminds her: "T'as jamais ete plus loin que la Main ..." ("You've never been further than the Main" [86]).

In production, A toi, pour toujours' minimal stage movements and blocking stylistically reinforce this repudiation of horizontal space. There are no entrances and exits. The characters remain in their assigned spaces throughout the performance. Marie-Louise and Leopold are seated throughout and do not even look at each other until the final scene. Although the characters are isolated and struggling to communicate, the play displays on another aesthetic plain the ease and beauty with which that isolation is overcome. What holds the play together and holds the audience are its symbolist, poetic, and sensuous elements.

The stylistic differences between the plays can be further brought forward through a close reading of short scenes from each. There are no act or scene divisions in A roi, pour toujours, and even episodes and incidents are difficult to isolate. However, the second page of the play's dialogue opens a "toast and coffee" scene beginning with Marie-Louise's lines "Veux-tu d'autre cafe, Leopold? (Silence.) Veux-tu d'autre cafe Leopold? (Silence.) Veux-tu d'autre cafe, Leopold?" ("Do you want another coffee, Leopold?" Repeated three times [38]).

Act 1, scene 2, of Balconville also begins a couple of pages into the dialogue with "toast and coffee":
 TOM comes out of the house with toast, coffee, cigarettes and his guitar.
 When he is finished his toast and coffee, he begins to practice his guitar.
 Muriel: from inside the house Tom, you left the goddamn toaster on again.
 Tom: Yeah? Muriel: Yeah, well, I'm the one who pays the electric bills.

While in Balconville "toast and coffee" is a typical piece of stage business to signal the time of day and set up the action of the scene, in A toi, pour toujours Leopold and Marie-Lou's discussion of "toast and coffee" extends for a complete page and is picked up again eight pages later to become a discussion of peanut butter which extends for another four pages into an argument over strawberry jam.

Whereas in Balconville eating and drinking and playing guitar are quickly overruled by considerations of the technological universe ("I'm the one who pays the electric bills"), in A roi, pour toujours "toast and coffee" are exploited for their full sensuous value: burnt toast, golden toast, cold coffee, and the repetition of references accompanied by Leopold's savoring them in his imagination. In fact the repetition of the words "cafe' (four times) and "toasts" (four times) interrupted by mysterious ejaculations of "dix ans" gives "toast and coffee" a vaguely sacral aura.

Because the visual field in Balconville is brimming and active--movements and gestures, entrances and exits, significant actions, and sight jokes like a fiat bicycle tire and a broken stair--dialogue and affect serve a secondary role, are reduced by perspective, and are therefore conspicuously and comically fiat Irene's anger is staged; Tom is deadpan, and Thibault is nonplused. In general, the speeches, as we can see in the "toast and coffee" scene, are distinctively referential and discursive in that they function in reaction and as a supplement to the visual cues.

A toi, pour toujours, in contrast, casts us into a bath of tension and high emotion with absolutely no perspective on the cause or dimensions of the affect. The "toast and coffee" dialogue contains ellipses, questions, warnings, and exclamations but not a single straightforward declarative sentence. The closure of the dialogue is based on poetic, nondiscursive, nonreferential qualities (the flow of sibilance and half rhymes and internal rhymes, the use of silence, the halting and merging of unfinished sentences), on the sensuous and suggestive qualities of the discourse (the mention of food and eating, intimations of hot and cold, references to the flow of water, juxtaposing of water and burning), and on the ritualistic, chantlike features of interspersed polyphonic voices.

The explicitly oral elements in the scene from Balconville such as the guitar, repetition, and the rhythm and pace of dialogue are distanciated into comedy or serve as obstructions and distractions that must be overcome. Fennario does not hesitate about having his characters recite old jokes and one-liners and rework cliches. As a measure of their authenticity, Fennario's characters say what we expect them to say. Our sense of the comic quality of these characters is largely derived from the ironic distance from which we view them in the theater. We are watching typical characters, the events and discourse of their lives unfolding in a familiar, verisimilar, but uninvolving pattern according to the rigors of clock and calendar and work schedules. The play casts us in the role of witness, our jobs to see the whole picture, to recognize the breadth and detail of events and get things in perspective in order to arrive at a balanced and rational overview. The interplay between play and audience is one of objective representation and a distant and therefore correct seeing.

This short excerpt also begins the play's extensive taxonomy of references to and signs of the technological universe: the toaster, electricity, the phone, and later Northern Electric's plans for automation, the hospital, school, films, television, the record player, and Bolduc's PA system. Thibault's bicycle and the missing step are part of a central motif in the play of things needing to be fixed (later including Paquette's car and the air-conditioning in his factory). Johnny fixes the step in the final scene of the play, at which time we learn that it has been broken for a year. The fixing of the step is an ostentatious symbol. It is the end of a long series of pieces of stage business; it is a high point, the highest point of optimism, in the dramatic action, and it is the signal of Johnny's rehabilitation. After fixing the step, Johnny, who has been turning aside Irene's calls for political action, now talks about billing the landlord, and, at Irene's instigation, he starts trying to talk of solidarity with Paquette in order to "fuck Bolduc," their Member of Parliament.

A toi, pour toujours as lyric tragedy and Balconville as ironic comedy are appropriate vehicles for Carmen's and Johnny's respective quests. If we compare the vectors of Carmen's and Johnny's journeys, we discover them moving in opposite directions. In keeping with the tragic mode of the play, Carmen moves out and away from "society." Johnny's story, in comic mode, is one of integration into "society." However, the notions of "individual" and "society" implied here are map constructions. As Marshall McLuhan has argued, the "separate individual equal before a written code of law" (34) is a creation of a visual/literate universe.

Johnny is a rebel-in-search-of-a-cause type of hero. His rebellious individualism is the basis of his heroic status. As such he repeats the role of the traditional hero, whose exception proves and reinforces the rule, whose rejection of authority re-establishes justice and order. Though he depends on Irene's strength and support, his transformation from drunken recalcitrant to civilized individual is the central thread of the drama. (35) Johnny's rite of passage can be abstracted into McLuhan's observation that through literacy tribal man becomes "emotionally free to separate from the tribe and to become a civilized individual, a man of visual organization who has uniform attitudes, habits and rights with all other civilized individuals." (36)

In contrast, Carmen's newly chosen way of life is less "civilized" (normative and uniform) than the family and religious life she is escaping. Manon's descriptions of her as looking like a clown and a prostitute have weight, and Carmen barely bothers to refute them. She does not immigrate into the wider uniformity of "civilization," for she simply migrates from one tribe to another--and the tribe into which she immigrates is, if anything, lower on the hierarchical scale of social acceptability and respectability. Of course, the whole argument of the style of A toi, pour toujours is against our moralizing over Carmen's choices. The play dissuades, overrides, and disallows our imposing a map--a distant perspective or a social context--on Carmen's decisions. Disapproving of Carmen we would simply find ourselves stepping into Manon's shoes. At this point we can clearly see the spread between Tremblay's intentions as a playwright and the Van Buren/Glasco translation and the Theatre Plus production of the play. Tremblay's presentation of jouissance included and required the neutralizing and dissipation of social disapproval. The English translation and the Toronto production actually used transgression and impropriety as sources of jouissance for English audiences. Othering and voyeurism (map forms) become the sources of jouissance in the English versions of the play. In contrast, Tremblay invokes jouissance as pure, innocent, immediate, and transcendent. The jouissance of his play depends on our naive empathy, on our enjoying Leopold's drunkenness, Manon's religiosity, Marie-Lou's vengeance, and Carmen's exhibitionism as the characters themselves do--letting the play override, at least momentarily, our knowledge or judgment of the context.

Balconville gives us a polarized, estranged view of jouissance. For example, Johnny's incidences of inebriation, like Leopold's, end badly in Balconville; however, there is no invitation to empathize with Johnny. For the most part we view his drinking binges from Irene's perspective as a problem, a disruption, a source of worry and pity--erasing any sense of jouissance. When drunk, Johnny repeatedly declares his love for Irene, but even these declarations are dismissed as part of the general economy of pitiable circumstances. Johnny is the play's spokesperson for jouissance when he &dares: "Tomorrow? Fuck tomorrow! Everybody's worried about tomorrow. I'm worried about right now" (73). (37) But even he is quick to repudiate this stance.

If we review each of the sources of jouissance at issue in A toi, pour toujours as presented in Balconville we discover a consistent pattern of irony, euphemism, denigration, and distanciation. For example, as we have seen, sexuality is a problematic issue for Leopold and Marie-Louise, but they do discuss the problem openly, unswervingly, and passionately and in the process present an elaborate self-diagnosis of the problems they have endured. Johnny and Irene only broach questions of sexuality in colloquial euphemism--"a Quebec quickie" (34) and "no meat and potatoes for you" (16)--and Johnny's puerile advances are quickly dismissed. The high point of their relationship, a single kiss, comes in unison with Johnny's recuperation and his symbolically charged gesture of having repaired the broken step. In the other relationship of the play, Tom is attracted to Diane but is able to express those feelings only after leaving town by writing her a letter, which Diane can't read and must have Irene read to her.

In Balconville, Cecile's religious faith is dismissed as quickly as she brings it forth. Remembering what a good young boy Thibault was, Cecile offers that "[h]e should have become a priest." To which Paquette immediately responds: "Cecile, nobody becomes a priest anymore" (31). And when Cecile asks her daughter to go to church with her, Diane's response is: "C'est toujours le meme show. Quand ils changeront le programme, peut-etre que j'irai" ("It's always the same show. When they change the program, maybe I'll go" [81]).

Balconville offers a particularly telling polarization of jouissance in its treatment of Le Rodeo---the same Montreal bar which Tremblay used as the site of Carmen's liberation in A roi, pour toujours. Act 2 opens with Thibault and Johnny arriving drunk. The mood of the play is at its lowest and darkest. Johnny's drunkenness has been shown as both destructive and chronic. After Johnny has been put to bed, Thibault is left alone onstage.
 Cecile comes back out. She sees Thibault sitting on the steps looking at
 one of his magazines. Thibault: Paquette, Paquette, tu t'souviens? Toi et
 moi a la Rodeo? [ ... you remember? You and me at the Rodeo?] Big Fat
 Babette .... "Please Help Me I'm Falling in Love with You." Big tits ...
 big tits. Cecile: Shhhhhh, Thibault. Claude dort. [Claude is sleeping.]
 Thibault: (looking at his magazine) Tits ... big tits. He rips a page out
 of the magazine. (74)

Thibault's fascination with glossy, airbrushed, abstracted map-versions of the female body is of a kind with his perceptions of Babette, the singer/ sex object of Le Rodeo. Whatever jouissance Thibault might derive from the pictures is put in a context that will give his pleasure only negative connotations and repercussions. Moreover, the denigration of Thibault's jouissance does not recuperate Babette because we know her only through Thibault's metonymic vision. What has changed from A roi, pour toujours to Balconville in this instance is neither the characters (in a general sense) nor the scene but how we as audience are encouraged to experience these situations. This contrast indicates how a shift from garden to map can turn Carmen, a potentially self-realized heroine whose jouissance could be confounded with happiness and fulfillment in A toi pour, toujours, into Thibault's Babette in Balconville. It also crystallizes how the Theatre Plus production of Forever Yours, Marie-Lou in Toronto would have turned Carmen into a Babette.

Map and garden tendencies of the plays also become clear when we consider their respective treatments of television (which I take to be a prime agent of map culture). For example, in Balconville, after Paquette and Johnny have had a fight, they each bring their television sets onto the balcony to watch the same baseball game but on separate screens and in different languages. The episode underlines the basic function of television to bring us images and information without contact or interaction with each other. As McLuhan observes, such visual media bring us a "nottoo-involved kind of unity that is hospitable to the inclusion of many tribes, and to diversity of private outlook." (38) Television is basically anti-sensuous as it brings us low-quality fragmented images which we must interpret into a complete map. (Although it was once argued that its fragmentary nature would make baseball impossible to broadcast, the game has proven an ideal content for television.) Through most of act 2, scene 2, Johnny and Paquette are watching a Montreal Expos Sunday afternoon game. They react with the same kinds of comments, almost in unison, but in different languages. An ongoing subtext through much of the play has been to proselytize the need to overcome cultural, linguistic, and religious differences in order to achieve the solidarity necessary for political action. This episode, ending with Johnny and Paquette in a battle of flags (the Maple Leaf versus le fleurdelise), has become the signature scene of the play--with the tableau of Johnny and Paquette putting up their respective flags being used as the cover of the Talonbooks edition of the play and in advertisement. Ultimately, what the scene firmly but subliminally signals is that television's acceptance of diversity can be taken as a paradigm for the moral and political outlook of the play.

In contrast, the prefatory stage directions of A roi, pour toujours tell us that Marie-Lou's favorite place is in front of the television, but she never seems actually to watch television. She never refers to television as having any content. Television commingles with knitting as part of a holistic, sensuous experience. She bathes in its light, like someone sitting in front of a fireplace. In short she turns the visual maplike medium into a sensual garden experience.

Furthermore, when television is discussed in A roi, pour toujours, the context is an argument over sleeping arrangements which puts Leopold in a contradictory situation as he fights to keep the set in the bedroom. Paradoxically it is Marie-Lou who chastises Leopold for choosing the television set over his wife. Television is thus presented as being in opposition to jouissance in a context where the inability of a couple to discover jouissance together proves a source of tragedy.

In Balconville, passion is subsumed in the economy of the comic narrative. For example, two-thirds of the way through act 2, scene 2, the morning after an episode of drunkenness, Johnny asks Irene for money. She calls him weak, throws five dollars at him, and yells "I hate you.... I hate you ..." (96). Scene 3 begins one week later, and when we see Johnny he is sober, employed, in the process of fixing the step, and about to be reconciled with Irene. The pattern of antagonism and reconciliation is repeated with Johnny and Paquette from act 2, scene 2, to scene 3 (the end of the play in which they are forced to overcome their differences). At the end of A roi, pour toujours, Marie-Louise calls Leopold's name; she looks at him for the first time in the play and says, "Tu pourras jamais savoir comment j' t' hais!" ("You could never know how much I hate you!" [94]). There can be no mitigation, no reconciliation or amends; this is Marie-Louise's last line, the penultimate line of the play. The play offers no retreat, no distance from the immediacy, the full blast of her bitter passion.

Marie-Louise has long taunted him with threats of the insane asylum, and Leopold is terrified by the possibility of suffering the madness that has afflicted so many members of his family. But Tremblay (pace Foucault) makes Leopold's madness--his murder-suicide decision--a final word, a laceration into a transcendent, subjective world. In Balconville only the belittled Cecile, with her love of dreams and stars and the magic effects of sunshine, shows any openness to the cosmos, to the magic world of the invisible. The play repeatedly directs us to perspective, to seeing how the machine must be fixed. In the final scene the neighborhood is on fire, and a political message from Gaetan Bolduc's campaign is heard condemning "disrupters and sabotage." The players turn to us in the audience and ask, "What are we going to do?" It is a rhetorical question that asks us to see and think.

But the play has another, perhaps inadvertent message. The final victory for the people of the Pointe was that in a moment of crisis they were able to work together. In order to get their belongings out of the threatened building they overcame personal differences and language differences and exclusive self-interest; they formed what McLuhan has called "the ultimate expression of Gutenberg technology": (39) an assembly line. Perhaps the human assembly line implies a message of taking over the means of production, but it also carries the message and the tacit acceptance that in this technological universe we are not only part of the means of production, we are what is produced.

Ultimately, A toi, pour toujours is radical and revolutionary because it offers no reconciliation with the machine. Leopold knows he is an impotent cog but when, in the final line of the play, he invites Marie-Louise, for "un tour de machine" ("a drive in the car"), and she stands for the first time, la machine simply means death.

The intention of this essay has been to observe and display--but not to essentialize--the differences that become apparent when a comparison of these plays is carried out along a map/garden axis. Certainly Michel Tremblay is fully capable of writing in a map style. His play En circuit ferme about the machinations of a Quebec television station is an apt example, but, as his World-Theater-Day message makes clear, he remains convinced that the future of humanity lies not in "universality" or "globalization" or "uniformity" but in our hearing "those small voices being raised in all corners of the world." (40) And David Fennario's recent one-man plays, Banana Boots, Gargoyles I, Gargoyles II, and Perimeter, are rich in the garden values I have been associating with Franco-Quebecois drama. Yet styles do become significant if not dominant markers of particular times and places and groups of people as well as of individual writers. To ignore these differences is to refuse to compare. To refuse to compare is to refuse to read.


(1) John Vernon, The Garden and the Map: Schizophrenia in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973); hereafter cited parenthetically in my text.

(2) Jean-Charles Falardeau, Notre societe et son roman (Montreal: Editions HMH, 1967), 57--63.

(3) Clara Thomas, "Crusoe and the Precious Kingdom: Fables of Our Literature," Journal of Canadian Fiction 2, no. 1 (spring 1972): 58-64.

(4) Philip Stratford, All the Polarities: Comparative Studies in Contemporary Canadian Novels in French and English (Toronto: ECW Press, 1986).

(5) Gregory J. Reid, "An Eye for an Ear: Fifth Business and La grosse femme d'a cote est enceinte," Etudes en litterature canadienne 14, no. 2 (1989): 128-49.

(6) Sylvia Soderlind, "From O to O and Sea to Sea: A Question of Translation and Territory," in Essays in Canadian Literature: Proceedings from the Second International Conference of the Nordic Association for Canadian Studies, ed. Jorn Carlsen and Bengt Streijffert, The Nordic Association for Canadian Studies Text Series, 3 (Lund: University of Lund, 1987), 117-25. In Soderlind's Margin/Alias: Language and Colonization in Canadian a nd Quebecois Fiction (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), the concepts of "extraterritoriality" and "alterity" displace the more homespun notion of "at-homedness."

(7) In his "Historical Introduction" to the Bibliographie d'etudes de litterature canadienne comparee [Bibliography of Studies in Comparative Canadian Literature], ed. Antoine Sirois, Jean Vigneault, Maria van Sundert, and David Hayne (Sherbrooke: Universite de Sherbooke, Departement des lettres et communications, 1989), 16, David Hayne observes that "there has been almost no comparative study of dramatic writing in the two languages ... "Richard Plant, "Drama in English," in The Oxford Companion to Canadian Theatre, ed. Eugene Benson and L. W. Conolly (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1989), 148, observes that "although several studies trace the development of anglophone and francophone drama, and thereby offer implied, if not stated, comparative analysis, research has not extensively explored the relationship between French and English theatrical and dramatic activity." Examples of single essays which carry out explicit comparisons include: Andre Loiselle, "Paradigms of the 1980's Quebecois and Canadian Drama: Normand Chaurette's Provincetown Playhouse, juillet 1919, j'avais 19 ans and Sharon Pollock's Blood Relations," Quebec Studies 14 (spring-summer 1992): 93-104; Renate Usmiani, "The Playwright as Historiographer: New Views of the Past in Contemporary Quebecois Drama," L'art dramatique canadienne [Canadian Drama] 8, no.2 (1982): 117-28, and "The Bingocentric Worlds of Michel Tremblay and Tomson Highway: Les Belles. Soeurs Vs. The Rez Sisters," Litterature canadienne [Canadian Literature] 144 (spring 1995): 126-40; Sherill Grace, "The Expressionist Legacy in the Canadian Theatre: George Ryga and Robert Gurik," Litterature canadienne [Canadian Literature] 118 (fall 1988): 4758; Irving Wolfe, "QuEbec and Ontario Theatre, 1960-1980: Two Parallel Revolutions That Failed, New Literatures Review 19 (summer 1990): 35-45; Paulette Collet, "Fennario's Balconville and Tremblay's En pieces detachees," L'art dramatique canadien [Canadian Drama] 10, no. 1 (1984): 35-43.

(8) Raymond Williams, Marxism and Literature (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977), 131.

(9) See, for example, Ronald Sutherland, The New Hero (Toronto: Macmillan, 1977), viii. D. G. Jones's Butterfly on Rock (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1970) displays the larger patterns of similarity between the two literatures while pointing out specific differences such as that "English-Canadian culture has generally placed more emphasis on the material weapons for transforming the world, on technology and scientific technique" (9). Marie Vautier in New World Myth: Postmodernism and Postcolonialism in Canadian Fiction (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1998) clearly takes the culture difference between Quebec and English Canada as a given; however, she avoids generalizing the differences she notes in individual works as being indicative of English Canadian or Quebecois culture.

(10) Jean-Cleo Godin, "A toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou" in Dictionnaire des oeuvres litteraires du Quebec, ed. Maurice Lemire, 6 vols. (Montreal: Fides, 1978-94), 5:45-50. Godin lists over 150 titles between 1971 and 1982 on this one play (47-50).

(11) Quoted in Vit Wagner, "Understated Delivery Suits David Fennario," Toronto Star, 6 May 1994, sec. F, p. 8.

(12) See David Fennario: His World on Stage, dir. Alex G. MacLeod, National Film Board of Canada, 1996, in which Fennario declares, "I think every play I have produced up to now has been a political and artistic failure, and especially, I think, the ones I did at Centaur."

(13) See Richard Paul Knowles, "Voices (off): Deconstructing the Modern English-Canadian Canon," in Canadian Canons: Essays in Literary Value, ed. Robert Lecker (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991), 130, in which Knowles points out that "the naturalistic, well-made-play structure of Balconville, together with its political softness, are largely the products of [director Guy] Sprung's intervention."

(14) During the summer of 2000, Fennario conducted semi-scripted walking tours of Old Montreal as seen from a working-class perspective entitled "The Hidden History Tour." This comment on his own language use is taken from the tour I attended.

(15) David Fennario, Blue Mondays, with poems by Daniel Adams (Verdun, Quebec: Black Rock Creations, 1984), 185.

(16) See Peter Brook's contrast of "rough" and "holy" theater in The Empty Space (Markham, Ontario: Penguin, 1990). Brook tells a story of children in postwar Germany awed by "two seedy, spangled clowns" and reviews the work of Antonin Artaud to exemplify the "holy theatre" (47-72).

(17) Ibid., 73-79. Of "rough theatre," Brooke observes: it is "the theatre that's not in a theatre...." It is "distinguished by the absence of what is called style.... [F]ilth and vulgarity are natural, obscenity is joyous.... [B]y nature the popular theatre is anti-authoritarian, anti-traditional, anti-pomp, anti-pretence." Rough theater is fed by "lightheartedness and gaiety," but it thrives and strives on the militant energy "that produces rebellion and opposition."

(18) David Fennario, personal interview with author, Montreal, Canada, 21 October 1999.

(19) Bruce Fink, The Lacanian Subject: Between Language and Jouissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 130.

(20) Michael P. Clark, "Lacan, Jacques," in The Johns Hopkin's Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism, ed. Michael Groden and Martin Kreiswirth (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 453.

(21) Ibid., 453.

(22) My translation is from Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Impostures intellectuelles (Paris: Editions Odile Jacob, 1997), 27-28:
 Dans les annees qui suivirent, Lacan devint de plus en plus friand de
 topologie. Un texte remontant a 1972 commence en jouant sur l'etymologie:

 Dans cet espace de la jouissance, prendre quelque chose de borne ferme,
 c'est un lieu, et en parler, c'est une topologie. (Lacan 1975a, p. 14)

 Dans cette phrase Lacan utilise quatre termes mathematiques ("espace,"
 "borne" "ferme" "topologie") mais sans tenir compte de leur signification;
 cette phrase ne veut rien dire d'un point de vue mathematique. Par
 ailleurs, Lacan n'explique nullement la pertinence de ces concepts
 mathematiques pour la psychanalyse. Meme si le concept de "jouissance"
 avait une signification claire et precise en psychologie, Lacan ne donne
 aucune raison permettant de considerer la jouissance comme un "espace" dans
 le sens technique de ce mot en topologie.

(23) My translation is from Roland Barthes, Le Plaisir du texte (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1973), 34: "... il me faut distinguer l'euphorie, le comblement, le confort (sentiment de repletion ora la culture penetre librement), de la secousse, de l'ebranlement, de la perte, propres a la jouissance."

(24) Michel Belair, Introduction, A roi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou by Michel Tremblay (Ottawa: Lemeac, 1971), 18: "Carmen, elle ne repete aucun des personnages types de Tremblay. Au premier abord pourtant, on pourrait la rapprocher de la Pierrette de Belles-Soeurs; en y regardant d'un peu plus pres cependant, l'on doit admettre que la ressemblance est loin d'etre frappante.... Carmen, elle, a atteint pour la premiere fois dans l'oeuvre de Tremblay a une maturite et a une autonomie complete qui est celle du bonheur." This view would also lead to the repeated interpretation that Carmen was a symbol of the future and the new, modern Quebec.

(25) Andre Vanasse, "Michel Tremblay: `... les bibittes des autres'," Le Macleans (September 1972): 39: "Carmen sort de son milieu pour aller chanter des rengaines `Western' au Rodeo. C'est la qu'elle trouve son bonheur. Mais qu'on ne se fasse pas d'illusions: pour elle la partie n'est pas encore gagnee. Elle peut connattre la reussite tout comme elle peut `mai tourner' a la facon de Pierrette Guerin dans Les Belles-Soeurs."

(26) Renee Hulan, "Surviving Translation: Forever Yours, Marie-Lou at the Tarragon Theatre," Recherches Theatral au Canada [Theater Research in Canada] 15, no. 1 (spring 1994): 52.

(27) Ibid., 51.

(28) Ibid., 52.

(29) Ibid., 49.

(30) Michel Tremblay, A toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou (Ottawa: Lemeac, 1971), 93. All subsequent quotations are from this edition and are cited parenthetically in my text.

(31) Michel Tremblay, Forever Yours, Marie-Lou, trans. John Van Burek and Bill Glassco (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1975), 85.

(32) Quoted in Andre Vanasse, "Michel Tremblay: `... les bibittes des autres'," 23: "... un quatuor a cordes. J'ai ecrit cette piece comme de la musique, c'est a dire que j'ai construit les deux conversations (celle de Leopold et Marie-Lou, celle de Manon et Carmen) de facon a ce que les personnages parlent du meme sujet en meme temps mais a dix ans d'intervalle."

(33) David Fennario, Balconville (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1980), 27. All subsequent quotations are from this edition and are cited parenthetically in my text.

(34) Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extentions of Man (Scarborough, Ontario: Mentor, 1964), 87.

(35) Speaking to a group of students in a course on Anglo-Quebecois Literature at the Universite de Sherbrooke (13 February 2001), Fennario claimed that although Johnny is typically identified as the hero of Balconville, it was his intention and remains his reading of the play that Irene is the central character of the drama.

(36) Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 265.

(37) The character of Johnny is based upon Fennario's friend and alter ego Jackie Robinson who figures prominently in Fennario's published diaries, Without a Parachute and Blue Mondays, and the plays On the Job and Nothing to Lose as well as Balconville. Jackie died (drowned after being chased by security guards at the Montreal docks) during rehearsals for Balconville. See David Fennario interviewed by Cynthia Zimmerman, The Work: Conversations with English-Canadian Playwrights, ed. Robert Wallace and Cynthia Zimmerman (Toronto: Coach House, 1982), 298. In his memoir Maurice Podbrey, former Artistic Director of Centaur Theatre, describes Jackie as "a free spirit who grew up in Pointe Saint-Charles with David. Jackie's spirit was infectious and David embraced his character in his plays. David is more political than Jackie was, but Jackie's anarchy defies it all. The characters based on Jackie created a beautiful dialectic with David's persona in the plays. Jackie's inspiration meant that something untamed and enviable drives the characters in the great pieces like Balconville and On the Job ..." (Half Man Half Beast: Making a Life in Canadian Theatre, as related to R. Bruce Henry [Montreal: Vehicule Press, 1997], 61-62).

(38) Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 192.

(39) Ibid., 197.

(40) Michel Tremblay's Message for World Theatre Day transcribed in Pat Donnelly's "Tribute to Tremblay on World Theatre Day," Montreal Gazette, 25 March 2000, sec. D, p. 2.

Universite de Sherbrooke
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Reid, Gregory J.
Publication:Comparative Drama
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Previous Article:The boy who would be king: court revels of King Edward VI, 1547-1553.
Next Article:Situating the holy: Celtic community in Breton and Cornish saint plays.

Related Articles
The Play in the Mirror: Lacanian Perspectives on Spanish Baroque Theater.
New Model Reveals Schizophrenia's Path. (Novel MRI Technique).
Insight and medication compliance.
Map of Brain May Reveal Early Mental Illness.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters