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Dave Billington, The Montreal Star, 1975
David French pointed out what now seems obvious: Canadian theatres across the country could attract audiences to see plays written by Canadians. What had been talked about was finally proven by the roaring success of Leaving Home.
However, David French’s greatest legacy is his body of work. These plays are standing the test of time and being used to teach Canadian literature and drama courses not because they are historically important, but because they are good plays. French wasn’t sure that people would be interested in his stories about a very specific place, but his plays are loved precisely because they are so specific and authentic, allowing them to become stories about our own families and our own homes.
Somewhere in Canada now, an actor is preparing to audition with one of Mary’s speeches from Salt-Water Moon; a young playwright, inspired by David French, is working on a new play; and, most likely, sometime today an audience will be laughing and caring about characters that were first brought to life at David French’s typewriter.
As a senior playwright, French mentored many aspiring writers. He taught short summer courses in playwriting for the PEI Conservatory. He also gave Canada Council-sponsored readings from coast to coast, and often visited high schools and universities that were studying his plays. French’s work has proved to be consistently popular with community theatre groups across North America, and he was frequently invited to amateur productions to meet the players and talk about the plays.
This is the place that David French created for himself in Canadian theatre.