Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui. Founded in 1968, the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui, Canada's only theatre institution dedicated exclusively to Québec and Canadian French-language dramatic art, celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2008. The theatre company's first 40 years were devoted to introducing and recognizing powerful words and writings from Québec, then to developing national repertoire that is now spreading throughout the world. Always faithful to its roots, the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui is intended as a true home for writers, welcoming both new and experienced voices.
In 1968, the major amateur troupes Les Apprentis Sorciers, Les Saltimbanques and Le Mouvement Contemporain directed by André BRASSARD, joined with the Swiss mime and puppeteer Michel Poletti to form the Centre du Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui. Located in a former garage at 1297 rue Papineau in Montréal, the adjustable hall could hold roughly a hundred spectators but its central columns required accommodation by artistic proposals. Although the first season's programming consisted of plays by Arrabal, Mrozek and Ghelderode, authors of the theatre of the absurd practised by the company's founders, the creation of local works firmly defined its mission in the second season.
Jean-Claude GERMAIN, then director of the Théâtre du Même Nom (TMN), soon renamed Les Enfants de Chénier, and later of Les P'tits Enfants Laliberté, wrote 3 of his own plays for the 1969-1970 season. Named Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui's artistic director in 1972 (a position he held until 1982), Germain mounted 13 of his own original works, including the outstanding Les Hauts et les bas de la vie d'une diva: Sarah Ménard par eux-mêmes (1974) starring Nicole Leblanc, and Un pays dont la devise est je m'oublie (1976). Confirming the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui's mission, Germain welcomed works by Victor-Lévy BEAULIEU, Élizabeth Bourget, Michel Garneau, Roland Lepage, Maryse Pelletier, Reynald Robinson and Yves Sauvageau.
Gilbert Lepage took the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui's helm from 1983 to 1986, and Robert Lalonde in turn assumed the role of artistic director from 1986 to 1988. The voices of Québécois playwrights grew with early works by Michel Marc BOUCHARD, Normand CHAURETTE, René Gingras, Jovette MARCHESSAULT, René-Daniel DUBOIS and Pol Pelletier. Visiting companies such as the Théâtre de la Rallonge, the Théâtre Petit à Petit and Théâtre Repère also performed at the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui. Michelle ROSSIGNOL's term as artistic director (1989 to 1998) was highlighted by the move, in 1991, to a former movie theatre on rue Saint-Denis, where the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui remains well-established. The main hall's capacity increased to 275, and Salle Jean-Claude-Germain, the upstairs rehearsal hall, serves for more intimate performances.
During these years, new voices were added, those of Normand Canac-Marquis, Carole FRÉCHETTE, Michèle Magny, Jean-François Caron, Larry TREMBLAY, as well as authors from elsewhere and from various cultural communities, including Pan Bouyoucas, Abla Farhoud and Wajdi MOUAWAD, thus showing the full transformation in the pulse of Québec society. In 1999, Michelle Rossignol ceded the artistic direction to René Richard Cyr, who introduced the public to new authors including Serge Boucher, Évelyne de la Chenelière, François ARCHAMBAULT, Daniel Danis, and Sébastien Harrisson, all of whom are now well established, their works appearing on major stages in Québec and abroad. Actress Marie-Thérèse Fortin, director of the Théâtre du Trident in Québec City from 1997 to 2003, assumed artistic direction of the Théâtre d'Aujourd'hui in 2004, and inspired new enthusiasm.