L’Affaire Tartuffe, The Garrison Officers Rehearse Molière

L’Affaire Tartuffe, The Garrison Officers Rehearse Molière



About the book

A riveting drama of cross-cultural love affairs, seditious plans to join the Yankees, and the stranglehold of church and state, L’Affaire Tartuffe is inspired by historical fact: in 1774, much to the Church’s displeasure, British garrison officers stationed in Montreal mounted Molière’s blasphemous play Tartuffe, the first performance by anglophones in Quebec.

About the author

Ackerman, Marianne

Co-founder and former Artistic Director of Theatre 1774, Marianne Ackerman has written several other plays, including L'Affaire Tartuffe, Céleste, and Woman by a Window which were published by Signature Editions (formerly Nuage Editions). Ackerman's first novel, Jump, was published by McArthur & Company.

Born in Belleville, Ontario, Ackerman studied at Carleton University, the Sorbonne and the University of Toronto. She lived in France for a number of years, and currently lives in Montreal.


At rehearsal.

Williams: You've got it all wrong, Fraser. I'm surprised after fourteen years in Quebec, your understanding of the power of language is so primitive.

Fraser: Language is like a suit of clothes. If you put an idiot in a high priced coat, you get a well-dressed idiot.

Williams: Language works from the inside. To speak French is to find a hidden side of oneself.

Fraser: If you've got something to hide, in which case you're a hypocrite. But don't blame it on the limitations of your mother tongue.

Williams: I'm not blaming my mother tongue. I'm simply suggesting that to learn a second language is to find a new and sometimes frightening door...to the soul. One can't always know what one has to hide, Fraser Louis, what do you think?

Grandpré: Pardon?

Williams: The soul. Is language a means to uncovering the soul?

Fraser: He wasn't listening to a word we said.

Enter Humphreys.

Humphreys: Good afternoon, fellow thespians.

Williams: Sir!

Humphreys: Ah! Major?

Fraser: Hello, Harry.

Humphreys: Well, well. Malcolm Fraser. One of General Wolfe's finest, in the old days. What a pity you left.

Fraser: Well, I'm back.

Humphreys: To do the play.

Williams: Louis, je voudrais vous présenter mon oncle, le Colonel Humphreys. My mother's sister's husband. Nous ferons la pièce ensemble. Louis de Grandpré.

Humphreys: Mr. de Grandpré, I've heard so much about you. Monsignor Montgolfier tells me you were his prize student. And you gave up a brilliant career in the priesthood.

Awkward pause.

Humphreys: Well, welcome aboard. I'm very happy to have your participation in our little cultural endeavours. Now, what role do I play?


Williams: Uncle is quite an accomplished actor.

Humphreys: Remember India?

Williams: The Duchess of Salisbury.

Humphreys: She Stoops to Conquer.

Williams: And Shakespeare.

Humphreys: You did say this one's a comedy?

Williams: We tried Hamlet.

Humphreys: In Jamaica.

Williams: Disaster.

Humphreys: Too hot.

Williams: Too slow.

Humphreys: Too long.

Grandpré: Yes! Tartuffe is a comedy.

Humphreys: What part do I play?

Grandpré: Orgon. He owns the house in which the intrigue takes place.

Humphreys: Good.

Grandpré: Lieutenant MacKinnon plays your wife.

Humphreys: Oh.

Grandpré: And I play Tartuffe, an imposter who steals your wife, your daughter, and your house, under the pretext of saving your soul. Fraser: Assuming he has one.

Humphreys: May I see the play?

Humphreys flips through the play. Louis and Williams wait. It seems to take forever. Finally:

Humphreys: Très bien. Captain Williams, General Gage is coming up from New York next week to inspect the regiments. I'll be quite busy for at least a month. In which case I shan't be able to join in the fun before at least, say, Act III. Which seems to coincide with the first appearance of this monsieur Tartuffe.

Williams: You'd like to play Tartuffe, Sir?

Humphreys: General Gage. Commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America, Captain. Let us not lose sight of why we are here.

Williams: But Sir, the play was Louis' idea. The role of Tartuffe is—

Grandpré: Please!... Le colonel Humphreys en Tartuffe. Et pourquoi pas?

Humphreys: ...If you insist.

Grandpré: Je vous en prie.


It's a play of sweeping scope, Shakespearean ambition, worthy intentions and delicious flashes of sniping wit. And it takes its cue from an actual event. In 1774, British garrison officers performed two Molière plays in Montreal. >>

The Montreal Gazette

A more timely political piece of stagecraft would be hard to imagine. The Bloc would hate it. So would the Reform Party. The mainstream feds should go down on their knees and wish they'd siphoned off some of it for… >>

The Toronto Star

A magnificent play, a real tour de force. >>

La Presse

...a theatrical achievement of epic proportions....L'Affaire Tartuffe may well be considered an important milestone in the history of theatre in Montreal in either of its two languages. >>

The Suburban

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