Jean-Pierre Ronfard (1929-2003)

1997 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)

"Theatre should be an epicurean pleasure!" is the motto that Jean-Pierre Ronfard's friends and colleagues bestow on this joyous creator and lover of life. For over thirty-five years he has been a force in French theatre in Canada, directing, writing, teaching. Both within the framework of traditional theatres such as Le Théâtre du Nouveau Monde, and in his unconventional work at the experimental theatres he helped found (Nouveau Théâtre expérimental de Montréal, Espace Libre), his insatiable curiosity and inquiring mind have pushed the ideas of theatre to the limit. Challenged that theatre could not be made without actors, he produced a play with objects as the only performers! Questioning time and tolerance, he made his extraordinary dramatic epic Vie et mort du Roi Boiteux, an immense parody of the great myths of the Western world, its traditions and history. Created as seven plays, it was ultimately presented in a marathon fifteen-hour session hailed by critics as one of the greatest events in Quebec's artistic history.

While his ideas are grounded in a wealth of knowledge and erudition, he shares them with generosity and enthusiasm, a boon to all his colleagues but especially to young developing artists for whom he is a brilliant teacher. He is impatient with the vicissitudes of life, rejects the idea of art created from angst. It is the joy of life that counts and this informs all that he does.