The trades

The Hive: a gallery of more than 70 trades

Alternating performances, a specific and fruitful practice

The Comédie-Française is the only institution in France to perpetuate the principle of alternation as a key feature of its organisation. First and foremost, this concerns the practice of alternating the productions staged at the Salle Richelieu, where up to five different plays are performed in the same week, while daily rehearsals are held for a sixth.

This system has characterised the Comédie-Française since it was first formed through the merging of two troupes (one tragic and one comic), obliged by circumstance to alternate repertoires and productions. One and indivisible today, the Troupe continues to alternate productions but also roles: as up to eight plays run concurrently on the three stages of the Comédie-Française (on top of which there are touring productions), several actors are cast in the same role and take turns performing it to ensure the widest possible range of productions are available at a given time.

Alternating productions is also an excellent way of representing the full scope and diversity of the Repertoire.

It nevertheless requires significant logistics since no less than three set changes take place every day on the stage of the Salle Richelieu. In the morning, the set from the previous evening’s performance has to be taken down and the one for the play being rehearsed that afternoon put up. In the evening, the rehearsal set is taken down, and the one for the evening production – different from that of the day before – is put up. This principle of constant rotation keeps the institution moving and demonstrates the virtuosity of the Troupe. In addition to the technical logistics, the timetables of the sixty Comédiens-Français and the overall production calendar must be precisely managed.

Alternation, Repertoire, varied performance venues, the conservation and enrichment of heritage: these qualities particular to the Comédie-Française require all the know-how of a busy, buzzing hive, as recalled by the emblem of the Institution.

The trades of the Comédie-Française

With some 25 productions staged every season in its three theatres, the majority of which are created in its own workshops, the Comédie-Française truly is a hive of activity with more than 70 trades practised by nearly 500 employees (including 56 actors) across all its sites, working every day to make sure the curtain rises. The range of professions goes from craft-based trades to administrative staff, forming a micro-society in which classic techniques mix with the latest technologies. It’s all about the collective.

THE STAGE TRADES

  • Technical management and project evaluation
  • Set construction in the Sarcelles workshops: metal smiths, carpenters, upholsterers, painters, sculptors, decorators, design office
  • Assembly, handling and maintenance of the Salle Richelieu sets: stagehands (on stage, in the flies, and below stage)
  • Creation, positioning and upkeep of furniture and small objects: upholsterers, cabinet makers, carpenters, prop makers (formerly called “utensiliers”)
  • Lighting: electricians (stage and electrical equipment for the rest of the building), lighting booth
  • Sound and video: sound and video operators
  • Stage: stage manager, assistant stage managers (formerly the role of the prompter)

COSTUME DEPARTMENT

Costumes :

  • Costume-making
  • Costume-makers (for women’s costumes)
  • Tailors (for men’s costumes)
  • Milliners (creation of hats, caps and other headgear)
  • Laundry and ironing supervisors (manufacture and upkeep of underwear, ruffs, lace, ruffles and shirts)
  • Dressers (dressing the actors, quick costume changes, upkeep and repair of costumes)
  • Costume management (managing costume stores)
  • Textile management

Hair and make-up :

  • Styling of the actors’ hair
  • Shaping of wigs, hairpieces, beards, moustaches, extensions, etc.
  • Making-up of actors and creation of prostheses and special effects

ADMINISTRATIVE AND BUILDING STAFF

The building staff encompasses:

  • administrative staff
  • maintenance
  • security
  • the organisation of the Comédie-Française premises

It sees to the proper running of the premises, ensuring the institution is able to open its doors every day to its staff and the public. It is also responsible for the upkeep of the building. The Comédie-Française contains a very diverse range of administrative services that form a dense network serving the artists, the staff and the public. The main departments are:

  • executive management
  • the library-museum
  • production and coordination
  • external and audiovisual productions
  • human resources and payroll
  • accounting
  • the medical service
  • communication services (public, educational, press, publications, Internet)
  • ticketing
  • reception
  • patronage
  • the boutique