news | Wednesday July 15, 2015

Miracle on stage: See turn-of-the-century actress Sarah Bernhardt at this year’s Shaw Festival

Quebec City, 1905. Two priests-to-be are ordered to deliver a letter to a controversial visitor to their city: the legendary French actress, Sarah Bernhardt.

Our first book of the Fall 2015 season is ready right on time; Michel Marc Bouchard’s The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt (translated by Linda Gaboriau) makes its debut concurrently with the Shaw Festival’s world premiere of the play.

As part of her long career, Sarah Bernhardt – known to her loyal fans as “The Divine” – visited Canada several times between 1880 and 1917, most often visiting Montreal, but once – just once – alighting in Quebec City. It is this singular historic visit, about which little is known, that Bouchard takes as the backdrop for his play, exploring conservative and progressive veins in competition through turn-of-the-century North America, with a focus on Quebec, that province on the verge of great change.

The Divine was commissioned for the 2015 Shaw Festival in honour of George Bernard Shaw and everyone who loves the theatre, and in memory of Sarah Bernhardt, “the woman who dares to say everything that should be left unsaid.” Extra fun fact: this play by a French-Canadian playwright will premiere in English before being produced in French, thanks to on-the-ground collaborations with translator Linda Gaboriau, newly minted Member of the Order of Canada for translation.

Pick up your copy of the play at the Shaw Festival bookstore when you see the live production, which runs until October 11, or order the book online today for $16.95.

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