The Institution

“The Comédie-Française carries within it this utopia that consists of reading the present in the light of the past, its missions being too vast and the curiosity of its artisans too insatiable to be reduced to one meaning rather than another. The common catalyst remains its troupe and all its departments, working tirelessly to lead you on these fanciful paths.”

ÉRIC RUF

Salle Richelieu

Without interruption from September to the end of July, the Salle Richelieu proposes a dozen alternating productions drawn from the most varied repertoires and chosen to navigate between the most diverse styles of plays, aesthetics and performances.

One of its specific features is the creation of the Comédie-Française Repertoire: every text performed on its stage must first have been submitted to the Reading Committee in order to be registered in the Repertoire, which now encompasses nearly 3,000 plays from all eras.

The Salle Richelieu is the fruit of the conflicts and passions animating French society at the end of the Age of Enlightenment.

Initially intended to be an opera, this building, designed so as to fit in harmony with the Palais-Royal, was built at the initiative of the Duke of Chartres by the architect Victor Louis. At the beginning of the Revolution, it was occupied by the Théâtre des Variétés Amusantes, which were joined by Talma and his friends.

In 1791, the Comédie-Française was already 111 years old and had been housed in four other theatres.

It wasn’t until 1799 and the reunification of the troupes that this proscenium-stage theatre definitively imposed itself as the home of the Comédie-Française.

Key dates

  • 1791: part of the Comédiens-Français troupe, led by the tragedian Talma, for the first time takes up residence in this theatre, named Théâtre de la République at the time, while the other part performs at the Théâtre de la Nation (future Odéon).
  • 1799: following the revolutionary divisions and the burning of the Odéon, the reformed Troupe settles here definitively.
  • In the nineteenth century: the original volume of the theatre is expanded and developed under the supervision of Prosper Chabrol (1860-1864). We have him to thank for the grand staircase as well as the public foyer, in which marble busts of Voltaire and Molière have faced each other ever since.
  • 1900: a fire ravages the theatre. It is reconstructed identically.
  • 2012: major technical refurbishment work is undertaken in the Salle Richelieu, which closes for one year. The Troupe moves to the Théâtre Éphémère, a temporary building constructed in the heart of the Palais-Royal gardens. Made out of wood, this innovative structure combines an eco-responsible approach with excellent acoustic and thermal qualities. This 746-seat, end-stage theatre now belongs to the Grand Théâtre de Genève.
Description

Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier

Located in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier programmes at least four new productions of classical or contemporary texts every year, in series between September and early July. Only plays performed in the Salle Richelieu enter the Comédie-Française Repertoire, however the artistic choices of the general administrator are made with a view to the overall cohesiveness of the programming between the three stages.

The creation of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier on 22 October 1913 by Jacques Copeau was part of his project for a “dramatic renewal”, breaking with the commercial model of the Grands Boulevards theatres on the right bank.

Introducing the practice of alternating performances, he developed an intense activity with his company, notably with Charles Dullinand Louis Jouvet as general manager. In 1924, Copeau moved to Burgundy to develop a theatre based on the principle of the bare platform, but his artistic legacy endured at the Vieux-Colombier, which, under successive directors, opened up to avant-garde cinema and jazz. Threatened with closure, it was bought by the state in 1986, and became the second stage of the Comédie-Française.

Key dates

  • 22 October 1913: creation of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier by Jacques Copeau.
  • November 1924: the director Jean Tedesco becomes artistic director of the theatre (until 1934), where he introduces avant-garde cinema to the French public (Abel Gance, Griffith, Jean Epstein, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Renoir).
  • June 10 1933: Georges Pitoëff’s first staging at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, with Chirikov’s The Jews.
  • 27 May 1944: premiere of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Huis clos (In Camera), directed by Raymond Rouleau.
  • June 1945: Jean Vilar’s first staging at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, the French premiere of T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral.
  • 13 January 1947: lecture by Antonin Artaud.
  • 1948: inauguration of the Club du Vieux-Colombier in the theatre’s cellar with Claude Luter’s New Orleans Jazz orchestra, later to host Sidney Bechet and Boris Vian among others.
  • July 1961: as part of the Theatre of Nations, The Living Theatre stages Brecht’s In the Jungle of the Cities and the Vienna Volkstheater stages Genet’s The Balcony.
  • 1978: the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier is listed on the supplementary inventory of Historic Monuments so as to prevent its destruction.
  • February 1986: bought by the state.
  • 9 April 1993: the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier becomes the Comédie-Française’s second stage, placed at the time under the general administration of Jaques Lassalle, who opens the first season by directing two plays by Nathalie Sarraute, Le Silence and Elle est là.
  • 20 January 2010: first staging on a traverse stage, Paroles, pas de rôles / vaudeville, devised by the collectives tg STAN, De KOE and Discordia.
  • 29 September 2015: first production for “all audiences” with a show for actors and puppets, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea after Jules Verne in an adaptation and staging by Christian Hecq and Valérie Lesort.
Description

Studio-Théâtre

The programming of shows and events at 6.30 pm from Wednesday to Sunday not only broadens the audience but also diversifies the range of productions on offer. Actors and audiences therefore have the opportunity to catch a second performance at 8.30 pm at the Salle Richelieu or the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier, or even exceptionally at the Studio-Théâtre.

In addition to contemporary plays and classic works of the curtain-raiser type, the Studio-Théâtre is ideal for intimate plays, cabarets, children’s shows, as well as for public events.

When Jean-Pierre Miquel, at the time general administrator of the Comédie-Française, took the opportunity to create a third stage during the refurbishment of the Carrousel du Louvre, he had in mind a small venue that would act as a laboratory for different forms in close proximity with the public.

Thus, in 1996, the Comédie-Française inaugurated the seventh theatre in its history. Christened the Studio-Théâtre, its name refers to the first Studio of the Moscow Art Theatre created by Stanislavski in 1912.

Complementing the programming in the other two theatres, for the last twenty years, it has staged contemporary authors, sometimes for the first time in France, as well as short forms of “classics”, alone-on-stage performances or song-based shows.

Key dates

  • 15 May 1996: start of construction work.
  • 29 October 1996: opening of the Studio-Théâtre with La Demoiselle de la poste by Ewa Pokas, directed by Catherine Hiegel.
  • 17 October 2007: Le Cabaret des mers, first musical cabaret, under the artistic direction of Sylvia Bergé.
  • 26 November 2008: first cycle of the Readers’ Bureau at the Studio-Théâtre, reading cycles of plays by contemporary authors, alternating with the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier.
  • 26 November 2009: Le Loup by Marcel Aymé, directed by Véronique Vella marks the first “all-audience” production, which will become an annual feature.
  • 16 March 2016: Ce que j’appelle oubli by Laurent Mauvignier directed by Denis Podalydès opens the Singulis programme, a series of alone-on-stage performances.
Description
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