Michel Dumont, OQ, actor, artistic director, translator and narrator (born 29 January 1941 in Kénogami, QC, later renamed Jonquière and now incorporated into the city of Saguenay). Artistic director of the Théâtre DUCEPPE for the past 25 years, Dumont has left a profound mark on the Québec theatre scene.
It was in his home town that Michel Dumont made his first stage appearance, in an amateur theatre festival, and received his very first acting award, presented by actor Paul Hébert. But it was at the Théâtre du Trident, in Québec City, that Dumont truly began his professional career as a man of the theatre, after brief stints teaching at the Collège de Jonquière and the Cégep du Vieux-Montréal.
Watching the great Québec actor Jean Duceppe play the starring role of Willy Loman in a French-language production of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Dumont dreamt of one day performing alongside him. His dream came true in 1973: Duceppe had just founded his own theatre company and moved it into the Théâtre Port-Royal at Place des Arts in Montréal, and he cast Dumont in the role of Willy Loman’s son Biff in the production of Death of a Salesman that opened there. This marked the start of a long, wonderful, priceless collaboration between these men.
It has been said that in the scope of his career, Michel Dumont “has no equal but the imposing figure of that profoundly subtle actor, the great Jean Duceppe.” In the course of his career, Dumont has interpreted all of his roles with professionalism and sensitivity. Over the years, he has appeared in Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck (1987); Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose (1987); À toi pour toujours, ta Marie-Lou by Michel Tremblay (1996); Un simple soldat, by Marcel Dubé (1998); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, by Tennessee Williams (2000); Uncle Vanya (2006) and The Seagull (2007), by Anton Chekhov; and Amadeus, by Peter Shaffer (2009). Dumont has also participated in the translation of numerous plays into French, including several by American playwright Arthur Miller.
After Jean Duceppe died in 1991, Michel Dumont took over as artistic director of his theatre company, the Théâtre Jean-Duceppe (or simply, DUCEPPE). Carrying on Duceppe’s mission, Dumont strived to offer his audience a theatre of “feelings and identification” as his mentor had imagined it.
In addition to his work on stage, Dumont has displayed his acting talents on television. In 1972, he played the role of Fantoche on Picotine, a children’s show aired on Radio-Canada, which he co-wrote with Linda Wilscam. His other notable television roles have included Jos in the dramatic series Race de monde (1978–81) by Victor Lévy-Beaulieu, Minister Alain Robert in Monsieur le ministre (1982–86) by Solange Chaput-Rolland and Michèle Bazin, and Gilbert Trudel in Les dames de cœur (1986–89) by Lise Payette. He played Henri St-Jean in Marilyn (1991–94, also by Lise Payette) and Captain Gilbert Tanguay in Omertà, la loi du silence (1996–97), a police drama series scripted by Luc Dionne. Dumont also appeared in La part des anges (1998–99), as well as in the series Bunker, le cirque (2002) and the highly popular series Providence (2009–11) and Yamaska (2009–16).
Michel Dumont serves as narrator of the theatrical spectacle La fabuleuse histoire d’un royaume, written and created by Ghislain Bouchard, which has been presented in Dumont’s native region of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean since 1988. In 2006, he hosted and narrated a new version of the popular show Dossiers mystères on Canal D. In 2010, he lent his sombre, theatrical voice to a Montreal Symphony Orchestra production of Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus, reading a text by Yann Martel.
The world of film, too, has been enriched by Michel Dumont’s great acting talents. His first film appearance was in Jean-Claude Lord’s 1979 production Éclair au chocolat. In 1980, Dumont appeared in De jour en jour, by Robert Desrosiers, and in 1990, François Girard cast him as Philippe in his feature film Cargo. Almost 10 years later, Dumont showed himself in top form when Denise Filiatrault chose him to play Michel Collard in her film Laura Cadieux...la suite. He appeared in Café de flore by director Jean-Marc Vallée in 2012 and in Le Garagiste by Renée Beaulieu in 2015. This last performance earned him three nominations for the Canadian Screen Awards in 2016.
Awards and Legacy
Michel Dumont has won the Prix Gémeaux for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama Series three times, in 1998, 2003 and 2013. In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Québec at Chicoutimi. In 2010, Québec’s National Assembly recognized him for his work as spokesperson for the Montréal South Shore chapter of the Alzheimer Society. He was made an officer of the National Order of Québec in 2013.
Since his career began, Michel Dumont has acted in over 70 plays, some 15 television series, and a number of films. Regarded as a leading figure of Québec theatre, this gifted actor leaves his mark on every role he plays. In the interviews that he granted Pierre Maisonneuve for the book Michel Dumont, grandeur nature (1999), Dumont says that he is never happier than when he is on the stage.