JPEG - 7.6 kb
Colonne Morris
Colonne Morris
a pillar-shaped
billboard used to publicize
films and shows
© F. de La Mure / M.A.E.

In line with a tradition going back to the Théâtre Libre founded by André Antoine, who later renamed it Théâtre Antoine - a tradition kept alive through the interwar years in the work of the “Cartel” (Gémier, Copeau, Baty, Jouvet) and after the Liberation at Jean Vilar’s Théâtre national populaire (TNP) - the vitality of French theatre owes a lot to the great directors who influenced its development.

Prior to his untimely death in 1990, Antoine Vitez trained generations of actors and shed new light on the repertoire, from Molière to Hugo, and Aragon to Claudel. The theatrical arts in France have also been nourished by the likes of Marcel Maréchal, director of the Tréteaux de France (Paris), Ariane Mnouchkine at the Cartoucherie de Vincennes, Peter Brook at the Bouffes du Nord (Paris), Jorge Lavelli at the Théâtre National de la Colline (Paris), Georges Lavaudant at the Odéon Theatre (Paris), Jacques Nichet in Toulouse, Jérôme Savary at the Théâtre de Chaillot (Paris), Bernard Sobel in Gennevilliers. Like Daniel Mesguich, Patrice Chéreau, Jean-Pierre Vincent, Gildas Bourdet and Jacques Lassalle, they continue to bring their expertise and passion to the French theatre scene. A new generation (Christian Schiaretti at Villeurbanne, Stéphane Braunschweig in Strasbourg, Didier Bezace in Aubervilliers, Robert Cantarella in Dijon) is also emerging, while playwrights such as Xavier Durringer, Philippe Minyana, Valère Novarina and Michel Vinaver are the lifeblood of contemporary drama.

This list does not claim to give an exhaustive picture of the number and variety of shows presented annually. There are as many as 44 national drama centres, 250 theatre companies with state contracts and 599 subsidized theatre companies. All in all, the number of independent companies tripled during the 1980s, and now stands way over the thousand mark. Finally, many theatres have been opened, modernized or restored these past years, whether in Paris (Théâtre National de la Colline) or in the provinces (the Théâtre du Port de la Lune in Bordeaux, the Théâtre de la Salamandre in Lille, the Nouveau Théâtre in Nice, etc.). Seventy “national theatres” supported by the state and local authorities, stage multidisciplinary productions in a contemporary vein.

The circus, which constitutes another branch of the performing arts, has taken on a new life. Companies such as the Cirque Plume, Archaos et le Cabaret équestre Zingaro (Archaos and Zingaro equestrian troupe) have transformed the genre and several schools have been set up. The Cirque Gruss has taken up the torch for traditional circus skills, which it is anxious to preserve. With “The Year of the Circus” (summer 2001 - summer 2002), the state expressed its support for circuses, acknowledging their aesthetic choices, financial responsibilities and cultural role. In 2003, the first French academy of equestrian arts, which will divide its time between multidisciplinary teaching in the arts and staging shows, was set up in the Great Stables of the Palace of Versailles, designed by Mansart for Louis XIV’s horses.

Dernière modification : 09/02/2008

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