“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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