How to Bake the Perfect Chicken [Fabien Cloutier]

How to Bake the Perfect Chicken

My translation:
CLOUTIER, FABIEN. How to Bake the Perfect Chicken, full play available in English translation from the CEAD, filed in their directory since October 2016. (A previous version of Act 3 has been published on the Québec Reads platform. It has been modified since. Final version below.)

Original title:
CLOUTIER, FABIEN. Pour réussir un poulet, Québec: Les éditions de l’Instant même «L’instant scène», 2014.


Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Awards for drama, 2015

« In gritty, rhythmic language, Fabien Cloutier presents the kind of working class characters who aren’t often given a chance to speak in the theatre, and he does so with audacity and without condescension. Pour réussir un poulet is a raw and cruel portrait of the exploitation of human misery. You won’t come away from this play unscathed. » —Jury statement





CARL — Geez man
’zat a job or a lunch?

JUDITH GILBERT — Oh dear jus’ enjoy it
It’s oysters

CARL — Not sure I want any

MÉLISSA — You’re not ashamed a’ yourself?
Your lil’ sister can open ’em up onna first try
An’ you
You’ve been messin’ with that one for five minits

CARL — Shut up

STEVEN  — Me I like ’em plain

MÉLISSA — Pepper lime vodka for me
Best mix
I tried so far

JUDITH GILBERT — Careful not ta maim yourself with that

CARL — It’s disgustin’

STEVEN — You gotta eat some to develop the taste
Like blue cheese
With time
It starts ta taste good

CARL — Blue cheese
First time I ate that
It felt like I was bitin’ straight into a boil on a dick

STEVEN — For fuckssake

JUDITH GILBERT — Well when there’s a boil on a dick
I ain’t bitin’ into it

STEVEN — Mom for fuckssake
I don’ wanna hear that

JUDITH GILBERT — S’ jus’ a joke
I’m so happy to eat oysters
Free oysters to boot
S’ almost anuf to make me forget bein’ pissed ’bout my stolen plant

STEVEN — Stolen plant?

JUDITH GILBERT — Sumeone stole a hibiscus onna balcony

CARL — Huh?

STEVEN — An’ I bet your door wasn’t even locked eh?
You gotta keep your doors locked Mom
Inna wurld we live in today
You gotta keep your doors locked

CARL — It takes a real asshole to steal a plant

JUDITH GILBERT — An asshole or an Arab

MÉLISSA — There ya go again

CARL — I ain’t so sure ’bout an Arab stealin’ a plant
That’s what they’ve got a reputation for
Not stealin’

MÉLISSA — This shit ain’t funny one bit

CARL — They’re jus’ jokes

STEVEN — But those people
They don’t get that jokes’re jokes

JUDITH GILBERT — I called 911 for my plant
They tell us to do that when sumthin’ happens
But they din’t do nuthin’
I thought a policeman dressed as the police woulda come
That’s all
At least it’d send a signal to ’em scumbags
Out stealin’ plants
Show ’em the police give a shit ’bout that

CARL — It wasn’t an emergency

JUDITH GILBERT — Damn rite it was an emergency
If that scumbag’s runnin’ out onna streets
With my hibiscus in ’is hands
S’ rite now they oughta go after ’im
Not tomorrow

MÉLISSA — Let’s jus’ eat okay?

CARL — That doesn’t look good
It can’t taste good

STEVEN — C’mon

JUDITH GILBERT — Do you eat shrimp?

CARL — Yeah

JUDITH GILBERT — They’re damn ugly too

MÉLISSA — An’ you eat shrimp anyway
Same thing

CARL — You’ll never see me eat an ugly snatch tho

STEVEN — That ain’t true
An’ ya know it

CARL — There’s no way you’re tellin’ that now you jerk

STEVEN — You kept sayin’ yourself that your ex’s snatch
Looked kinda like sumeone had punched a shepherd’s pie
Din’t stop ya from havin’ two kids with ’er

MÉLISSA — Hey you jackasses
You just don’t say snatch in fronta your mother
Have some basic decency you two

JUDITH GILBERT — Stop starin’ at it
It’s not like it’s gonna jump into your mouth by itself

CARL — Man that shit tastes so bad

STEVEN — C’mon
Swallow it down

MÉLISSA — Wow you’re layin’ it on thick


CARL — D’you hafta eat that raw?

JUDITH GILBERT — It’s better raw

CARL — I’ll fuckin’ know what ta eat
Whenever I need to puke

JUDITH GILBERT — But jus’ outta curiosity
Who is it who gave ya such a big fat gift?

CARL — The owner of the Boulevard Shopping Mall

STEVEN — Mario Vaillancourt

JUDITH GILBERT — Ain’t that the shoppin’ mall with the rest’rant you work at?

He comes to the rest’rant from time to time
I see him whenever I wait his table

JUDITH GILBERT — An’ wut did he give you that for?

There are cheap ones
At the dock in Caraquet
They’re cheaper there
It’s like shrimp
They’re cheaper in Matane

CARL — He knows a fisherman who’s gettin’ oysters onna side
An’ he’s givin’ me that ’cos he’d like us
To be partners sorta
We’d buy a whole lot
An’ then sell that here an’ split profit
But I don’ trust that

STEVEN — That’s ’cos he doesn’t do business with a distributor
It’s a fisherman who’s sellin’ some for cheap for regular folks
I think it could work

JUDITH GILBERT — Cheap cheap how cheap?

STEVEN — Like real cheap

CARL — Cheap but if it tastes like ass?
I’m regular folk but I still can’t bring myself to swallow that

STEVEN — You looked willin’ earlier tho?

CARL — I thought it could be nice anuf
But since then I’ve tasted the stuff
Who’s gonna buy that if it tastes awful?

JUDITH GILBERT — Hey now you’ll hafta get outta your head
That jus’ because you don’t like oysters
Nobody else does


STEVEN — Wut are you doin’ this Friday?

CARL — What’s this now?

STEVEN — Answer me
Wut are you doin’ this Friday?

CARL — Fuck you

STEVEN — What is it you doin’ this Friday nite?

JUDITH GILBERT — C’mon answer

CARL — I’m gonna see “Tribute to Queen”

MÉLISSA — Again?

STEVEN — And jus’ how many times have you seen “Tribute to Queen”?

CARL — Fuck you

STEVEN — How many?

CARL — Fuck you

STEVEN — You told me that you’ve seen “Tribute to Queen” twenny-sev’n times
So your fuckin’ lessons on taste
Y’can put ’em up your ass?

CARL — It tastes like ass!

JUDITH GILBERT — A deal like that
It’d work with rest’rants
Or maybe fish markets

MÉLISSA — Unner the table to boot?


I’d go to Caraquet

You gotta work for a livin’

CARL — Usin’ up gas
An’ missin’ “Tribute to Queen”
To go an’ end up bored to tears in Caraquet
Can’t wrap my head ’round that

STEVEN — We won’t be goin’ there as tourists

CARL — Takes a special license to drive a truck

STEVEN — I can find one
I drove a school bus onna side for three years
D’ya think I took the course for that?

CARL — Dude you change your mind on a fuckin’ whim
You din’t wanna see ’is face again
An’ now you’re ready to deal oysters with the guy

MÉLISSA — Ever bought knives at Dollorama?

CARL — Like ev’rybody else

MÉLISSA — But they’re shitty the knives from Dollorama
You cut three ’r four carrots an’ they don’t cut anymore

JUDITH GILBERT — Yeah that’s rite

STEVEN — That’s damn rite
It’s fuckin’ shit

JUDITH GILBERT — It’s like the garlic from China
It makes you burp more than the garlic from ’ere

MÉLISSA — Anyways
The Chinese dude makin’ those knives
He isn’t thinkin’
“I’m not makin’ this
It’s not worth anything”
He makes ’em
He sells ’em

CARL — Yeah an’?

STEVEN — You’re so damn slow

MÉLISSA — That’s all
If they’re willin’a sell knives that don’t work well
Sumeone can very well sell oysters
Even without likin’ the taste of it

CARL — It’s jus’/


CARL — It’s goin’ a lil’ fast I think

JUDITH GILBERT — It’s not too fast at all
It’s a sign
Damn ya don’ believe in signs sumtimes?



JUDITH GILBERT — Back inna day
Fellas with no diploma who ended up with government jobs
With pension funds an’ all
There was plenny of ’em
But that’s over now
Even the guy out puttin’ the cones inna streets
So that they can paint the lines onna side of the road
He has to have a diploma

MÉLISSA — Takin’ a cone outta the pickup
Dumpin’ it onna ground ev’ry three ’r four feet
A retard could do that

JUDITH GILBERT — An’ it’d be way cheaper ’irin’ that retard
Or prisoners
Y’ave ’em put the fuckin’ cones out
’steada payin’ their cable
An’ private trailers ta fuck their gurlfriends in
But it doesn’t work like that
The government nowadays
If ya don’t have the rite paper
They don’ give a shit ’bout ya
So you two
Who din’t even finish secondary three
Can we jus’ agree that
When sumthin’ comes your way
Ya hafta make the most of it

CARL — .

JUDITH GILBERT — You don’t like it
You think it tastes like shit
That’s fine we get it
You can eat all the crap ya want
An’ die from a heart attack in a couple a’ years
That’s your right
But to make a quick buck off the best oysters inna wurld
It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing

CARL — Would ya lemme bring my Queen cassette tape?

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