Jean-Pierre Ronfard

Jean-Pierre Ronfard, actor, author, producer, theatre director (b at Thivencelles, France, 1929; d 23 Sep 2003).

Ronfard, Jean-Pierre

Jean-Pierre Ronfard, actor, author, producer, theatre director (b at Thivencelles, France, 1929; d 23 Sep 2003). According to Jean-Louis ROUX (1987), Jean-Pierre Ronfard, an eclectic playwright, a skilled director of both major repertoire and smaller avant-garde works, a gifted actor, an exceptionally talented pedagogue, a tireless creator, and co-founder of the Nouveau Théâtre expérimental (NTE), "[was] surely among those who most influenced modern Québécois theatre."

Married to the novelist Marie Cardinal, and qualified in grammar and linguistics, Ronfard's theatre career first developed in France (Lille, Paris), then in North Africa and elsewhere in Europe. In 1960, he accepted an offer to head the French section of the new National Theatre School of Canada in Montréal, and remained in the position for four years, pursuing his extensive career in Québec.

As a director, he was involved in the creation of definitive contemporary Québécois dramas, notably Claude GAUVREAU's Les oranges sont vertes, and Réjean DUCHARME's Ha! ha!... He was the author of Vie et mort du roi boiteux (premiered at the Nouveau théâtre expérimental in 1981-82). A pedagogue and theatre scholar, he was happiest creating his laboratory pieces at the Nouveau Théâtre expérimental, an offshoot of the Théâtre expérimental de Montréal that he had founded in 1975 with Robert GRAVEL and Pol Pelletier. At the NTE, located in a former fire station and renamed Espace Libre, there were no holds barred. In Zoo, the audience walked around cages containing live animals; in Lumières, s'il vous plaît, flashlights rather than projectors were used in the hall. Ronfard received the Governor General's award in 1997. He was the father of director Alice Ronfard.