Jacques Leblanc: in Tremblay as in Root

Jacques Leblanc: chez Tremblay comme chez Racine

Jacques Leblanc carries the title role in “The duchess of Langeais” by Michel Tremblay at the Trident.

November 9, 2019 4: 00 am


Jacques Leblanc: in Tremblay as in Root

Jacques Leblanc: chez Tremblay comme chez Racine

Geneviève Bouchard

The Sun


At the turn of the conversation, a phrase of Jacques Leblanc will surprise and smile : “I embarked in there as in religion,” says the actor about the role-as he is about to incarnate in “The duchess of Langeais” by Michel Tremblay. The expression seems much better selected when you know that the character that he embraces would no doubt be proud to raise the ire of the followers of the cassock.

A year and a half after having triumphed at the Trident in Amadeus, Jacques Leblanc will move up shortly on the same stage with a new challenge theatre where it will loop a kind of loop. Two decades after being measured to the character of Hosanna to The Lined (read more below), it will slip into the skin of Édouard, alias la duchesse de Langeais, another famous transvestite as colorful as torture devised by Michel Tremblay.

“For me, it is as if I was going again with happiness let me go to a challenge completely crazy,” notes Leblanc about this monologue that he door, in a mise en scene Marie-Hélène Gendreau, accompanied by musicians Keith Kouna and Vincent Gagnon and dancer Fabien Piché.


In Hosanna, Jacques Leblanc discovered a 40-year-old a character is humiliated at the crossroads. In The duchess of Langeais, it is 20 years later went to meet a gay man fond of women’s clothes and who saw the end of an era.

Barely love at the bar of an all-inclusive withered, he (or she) will tell us about his difficulties with a irreverence as great as the pain she hides. “This just brings it back to its end-of-life, to the despair of finish alone, in the solitude of old age, fear of death… To never be in love, too,” lists Jacques Leblanc. “It is the despair of the body that there is more too it that it was. It deals with it with a lot of humour, but there are extremely of layers in this piece. I worked for a long time. Obviously, for a challenge like this, you will take ahead of time,” suggests the actor, who is said to still discover new nuances in its repetitions daily of the monologue.

“It is extremely funny, but it is also very sad, he notes. It is a profound drama, as Tremblay knows how to do. You cling to the characters. You can find the funny. And all of a sudden : do you get in it. And there you embarques in the drama… It is well written.”

In a language that cultivates the contrasts and that is not without difficulty for an actor, can we add. “It can go from the most vulgar to the highly refined, confirms Jacques Leblanc. For a comedian, it’s a liveliness in the mouth. It is as if I was Root. It is necessary that the finals are very precise. Even if the text is in joual, it is still necessary that the world understands what I say.”

Look For Edward

The thread of the work in the quilt of Michel Tremblay, the character of Edward has had the opportunity to unfold, in order or disorder, through multiple plays, and novels. If The duchess of Langeais date of fifty years, we learned to know more about this colorful number — seller of shoes a day; the flamboyant and irreverent travesty of the night — in the Chronicles of the plateau Mont-Royal and just recently in the series of novels of The diaspora des Desrosiers.

In the quest of its main character, Jacques Leblanc does not have any re-read. A matter of time for the one that also acts as director of the Conservatoire d’art dramatique de Québec. Especially that he could rely on a source even more direct : the author himself.

“I discussed a lot with Tremblay,” he says. I had issues sometimes on replicas which appeared to me nebulous. It’s funny because one time, he replied : “it’s been 50 years since I wrote it. Do you think that I’m going to remember everything?” But he answered all my questions.”

If the text date from five decades, Marie-Hélène Gendreau and his team have made it a “show eminently current,” says Jacques Leblanc. “The way to emotional for this character, it is current. It is so much question of gender in our society now,” observes the actor. It says to have wanted to exploit this opposition by using the allure of the duchess to invite us in his interiority.

“When I read the piece in mind that I was going to maybe play it, I said to myself : “OK. There is a whole envelope of this character, but the interest is a lot about what’s happening inside,” says Jacques Leblanc. The envelope of the great, mad fag, as he says himself, I have worked to put it in the right places, at the right times and that punch. This is a man who is on stage. Even if I have a dress at certain times. It has a look to it that becomes multiple. And it can reach more people than just the outer…”

“The duchess of Langeais” is presented to the Trident from 12 November to 7 December.



The spark : The sisters-in-law

“I was in third secondary, I think. I was starting to get interested in the theatre, but no more — I was a violinist at that time — and I read The sisters-in-law. It was a few years after the creation of the piece. In reading the text, I was completely obsessed by this author-there. I thought it was good, I find it funny. I was reading it with a friend, you found it nauseating. After, I read In toi, pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou and I have been knocked down by this piece. And then, I’ve seen parts on tv. It was with Luce Guilbeault, Hélène Loiselle, great actresses. The talent of these actresses-there, their truth… Phew!”

The mirror : The fat woman next door is pregnant

“It happened later, just before the Conservatory. There, I couldn’t help but read her novels. I have them still, they sit in my library, these large formats from the original. The fat woman next door is pregnant was a significant case in his novel writing. I was very impressed by it. I loved this family-there. I loved all of these descriptions. I like open mind on something else. Simple and clear, [that opened me] on what we are, what we have been. It has a lot put the woman at the heart of his work, Tremblay. All of a sudden see my family there — my aunts, my mother, my sisters, neighbours… —, I opened up even more about who we are in Quebec.”

Jacques Leblanc: chez Tremblay comme chez Racine

Jacques Leblanc in the role of “Hosanna” in 1998

Sophie Grenier, provided by The Theatre of the Lined

The piece that transforms : Hosanna, played in The Lined in 1998

“When Jack Robitaille, who was the director of The Broadside, I was approached to play Hosanna, I read the piece and I said to myself : “this is not possible, I will not say it in front of the world, I am an actor classic!” I had done Scapin, I had done Sganarelle… I just played the classics or close to it. Finally, I went over it and I’ve played it. It is a piece that I was back in. It is often said of actors that some roles are to advance more as performers. They make them understand things. Hosanna, it was the one where suddenly the exterior of the character, giving access to the interior. I understood something about the way they move, the way be compared to the truth of the character.”


“It is sure that it has been a extremely important role for me. It has created an opening very high on the depth of certain emotions. And it was difficult to dive into. I had difficulty to come back from that. It affect me a lot. I’m not saying that I was unhappy, but I was constantly taken with the heaviness of the character. And I’ve played a lot : a tour, in France… In the end, I was no longer able to play. I was tanned. It was hard, I had the impression to go into nothingness…”

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