Michel Tremblay

1999 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Theatre)

Canada's most widely-produced playwright, Michel Tremblay burst onto the scene in 1968 with Les Belles-Soeurs, a play that gave voice to ordinary people who had not been heard from before. Drawing on their Montreal, working-class lives and using their own means of expression, "joual", Tremblay identified the universal themes found in their stories. His plays, grounded in their world, have been translated and performed in more than twenty languages.

At the height of the Sixties, his role was crucial, challenging the domination and censorship of the clergy in the intellectual life of Quebec, championing the place of women in society and signaling the first stirrings of nationalism in Quebec political life. He opened the way for others to follow, while his own work has continued to explore questions of identity, both cultural and sexual.

Today, the vastness of his enterprise - plays, film scripts, novels, adaptations, musicals and operas - is "Balzacian" in its scope, with many of his characters appearing and reappearing across the range of his works. In the same fashion, the work of colleagues and friends - actors, directors, other writers - has become intertwined with his, his vision and creativity providing an ever - flowing resource for others.

Eight Chalmers Awards, four honorary doctorates and Officer of France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres are among his many honours.