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Madonna Painter, The
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Friday March 26, 2010 in Books

Madonna Painter, The

By Michel Marc Bouchard
Translated by Linda Gaboriau

At the end of the First World War, to protect his village from the Spanish flu epidemic brought home by returning soldiers, a young priest recently arrived in the Parish of Lac St-Jean commissions a wandering Italian painter to decorate the walls of the local church with a fresco dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The painter is to choose, among four local women all named Mary, a model for his work. The presence of the foreign artist, his choice of a local virgin to serve as a model, and the frighteningly strange nature of his work will upset the lives and change the fate of the entire community. The town’s doctor, meanwhile, has his own prescription for what is ailing the villagers. As superstition collides with desire, The Madonna Painter unmasks a bouquet of lies disguised as a fable.

Loosely inspired by the events surrounding the creation of the fresco that still adorns the nave of the church in Saint-Coeur de Marie, the author’s native village, the language of the play is not that of its current inhabitants. Bouchard’s characters simply echo the medieval beliefs that coloured the imagination and shaped the destiny of all Québécois, especially those living in its many rural townships until very recently, and inspire this story with their gossip about their neighbours, foreigners and the mythical marital spats between God and Satan. That fresco depicting the Virgin Mary’s ascension was the author’s first encounter with art, with a foreigner and with lies, and Michel Marc Bouchard has said: “In order to portray that fresco, I became a liar and the people from my village became saints and martyrs, artists and models, lovers and misanthropes. I presented their legends the way a flea market hawker displays sacred objects that have been stolen and disguised for resale.”

ISBN 13: 9780889226418 | ISBN 10: 889226415
5.5 W x 8.5 H x 0.29 D inches | pages
$16.95 CAN / $16.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000

QUOTES OF NOTE

“… really quite extraordinary. […] There are so many lovely and intriguing characters in this play … But the play is also filled with terrible images of death and horror … And it is this collision of beauty and horror that makes this play so truly remarkable.”
– The Coast

About the Contributors

Michel Marc Bouchard

Quebec playwright Michel Marc Bouchard emerged on the professional theatre scene in 1985. Since then he has written twenty-five plays and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including, in June 2012, the prestigious National Order of Quebec for his contribution to Quebec culture, and, in 2005, the Order of Canada. He has also received le Prix Littéraire du Journal de Montréal, Prix du Cercle des critiques de l’Outaouais, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award, the Dora Mavor Moore Award, and the Chalmers Award for Outstanding New Play. Translated into nine languages, Bouchard’s bold, visionary works have represented Canada at major festivals around the world.

photo: Julie Perreault

Linda Gaboriau

Linda Gaboriau is an award-winning literary translator based in Montreal. Her translations of plays by Quebec’s most prominent playwrights have been published and produced across Canada and abroad. In her work as a literary manager and dramaturge, she has directed numerous translation residencies and international exchange projects. She was the founding ­director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre. Gaboriau has twice won the Governor General’s Award for Translation: in 1996, for Daniel Danis’s Stone and Ashes, and in 2010, for Wajdi Mouawad’s Forests.

photo: Josée Lambert


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