Photostory #263: Top Team in a Tough League: Le Théatre du Nouveau Monde
National Film Board of Canada
July 12, 1960
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
The saga of Montreal's Le Theatre du Nouveau Monde is one of resounding success at home capped by acclaim on the international stage. But fame did not come the easy way for this company, born in the minds of two young French-Canadians who gave up medical studies to embark on the hazardous route of professional actors. They were Jean Gascon, talented artistic director of the company since its inception, and Jean-Louis Roux, general secretary. Launched in 1951, the company drew 40,000 spectators during its first season. When the company received an invitation in 1955 to take part in the International Drama Festival of Paris, Jean Gascon and Jean-Louis Roux chose to tackle fame the hard way once again. They brought to Paris -- the home of Molière -- three one-act plays by the great French playwright. The group had thrilled audiences in their home province of Quebec with their skilful interpretation of Molière, but how would theatre-wise Parisians react to the young company? "Molière played as we are sure he would have liked to be played!" exclaimed one enthusiastic critic. Further successes at Stratford, Ontario, and the Phoenix Theatre in New York followed. But Le Nouveau Monde was not satisfied to stop there. It returned to Europe, this time to the Brussels Fair, with a Canadian play by Marcel Dubé and Molière's "Le Malade Imaginaire". Once again Molière conquered the old world for the new and Dubé proved a very pleasant author. Today, on the eve of its tenth season, Le Theatre dn Nouveau Monde can look proudly back on its more than 35 productions performed in both French and English and before a combined audience of close to a million spectators.