Broue, Québécois play (1979-2008).


Broue, Québécois play (1979-2008). When actors Michel Côté, Marcel Gauthier and Marc Messier joined with authors Claude Meunier, Jean-Pierre Plante, Francine Ruel and Louis Saia to write a comedy, they would write not just a script but a real piece of cult theatre that would make more than three generations of spectators laugh.

The work is structured as a series of small tragicomic playlets that take place in a tavern, where women were barred at the time. It presents various male characters, some "regulars," others just passing through and each more colourful than the last, who come to drink their beer and shoot the breeze. In order to reduce costs, the actors decided to take on all the roles themselves, alternating the number of characters on stage - sometimes one, sometimes two, sometimes all three together. The snappy rhythm of the dialogue and the quick pace of the retorts require them to change costumes and build their characters in a flash. The premiere took place on 21 March 1979 in a small 100-seat hall in the Théâtre des Voyagements in Montréal. It was a hit, and throughout that year the company travelled from Sherbrooke to Montréal, concluding with the opening of the Théâtre Port-Royal (later renamed Théâtre Jean-Duceppe), by invitation of Jean Duceppe. The 200th performance was even celebrated at Magnan's - one of Montréal's few remaining authentic taverns.

The play ran without interruption until 1982, with lines based on whatever current affairs were raging in Québéc at the time. Marc Messier, Marcel Gauthier and Michel Cô​té, all unilingual francophones, even performed (sometimes in English) at the Centennial Theatre in Lennoxville. Uncertain how they would be received, they all suffered from nerves, but the audience went wild when they saw French- and English-speaking characters caricatured in this way, debating among other things, the frustrations of cultural and linguistic misunderstanding. In the space of one evening the entire audience was united by humour with a capital H. The play was featured (as Brew) at the Centaur Theatre in Montréal and even made its way to Vancouver (1982) and Toronto (1983), where the company celebrated a memorable evening with Torontonians - the event of their 700th performance. On 13 June 1984, the actors went as far as Allentown, near Philadelphia, to present Broue, receiving acclaim from audiences and critics. On 15 Oct 1990, Broue was revived in a Belgian version, Chez Willi, that ran for almost 7 years.

Broue's scripts would evolve through the years as the actors and authors drew inspiration from current events to update the original lines, so even if the characters remained basically the same, audiences were actually attending new plays as time went by. Broue lived on to the great delight of three generations of viewers (more than 2.7 million people and more than 2800 performances as of 2007). In 2006 the company received a very important tribute and prestigious testimonial - the Guinness World Record - for longest running play with the original cast. Broue announced its final tour in 2008.