Guy Laliberté vs. Michel Tremblay

The man behind Cirque du Soleil takes the playwright who brought us ’joual

Guy Laliberté

Why he’s famous: For making the circus cool with the Cirque du Soleil

Why he deserves to win: Laliberté didn’t just take out the goofy animal stunts from the circus when he decided to class up the tent a little. He brought in a focus on character-driven narrative to replace them, effectively hybridizing the circus with theatre and opera. Thanks to him, acrobats no longer have to fear being mauled by a lion or bear while on the job.

Michel Tremblay

Why he’s famous: Tremblay made his literary characters speak the way they would in real life.

Why he deserves to win: Tremblay didn’t invent ‘joual,’ the gritty street slang of Quebec’s underclass. What Tremblay did, though, was make it a staple of Quebec theatre. Tremblay’s first successful play, Les Belles Soeurs, cleared a path for future playwrights by breaking with the more formal and conservative traditions of the art form—most notably by having his working class characters speak a working class dialect, and most touchingly with a memorable ode to bingo: “Moé ya rien au monde que j’aime plus que l’bingo!”

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Next: Norman Bethune vs. Lester B. Pearson