Comedie Francaise is a French national theater, one of the most famous theaters the world, performing out of three separate locations in Paris.
The theater, also known as “Théâtre-Français”, is one of the few remaining state-owned theaters in France…and the only such one with its own resident & permanent performing staff.
The theater was founded by the Sun King Louis XIV in 1680, with their first performing venue at Hôtel de Guénégaud.
During the French Revolution, the theater was closed from 1793 to 1799, as the group’s actors were held as prisoners…
…for performing the play “Rebel” by Samuel Richardson, but renamed as “Pamela” for the special performance (that led to the troubles).
PHOTO: A view to Comédie-Française’s “Salle Richelieu”, located right next to the Palais Royal, in central Paris.
After the revolutionary years, the newly elected French parliament of 1799 gave the theater a permission to start performing within new premises at Salle de Richelieu, located next to the Palais Royal.
The Comédie-Française of today has a performance repertoire of around 3,000 different plays.
Their performances, around 900 each year, are held at three different locations around Paris:
- Salle Richelieu,
- théâtre du Vieux-Colombier (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Théâtre_du_Vieux-Colombier) (since 1993), and
- Studio-Théâtre (since 1996).
With the three theater stages, Comédie-Française’s repertoire has expanded to more experimental and modern plays, from authors such as…
- Sarraute, Duras, Calaferte, Koltès, Schéhadé, Topor, and Chaurette.
These, more “edgy” performances often take place either at the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier or at the Studio-Théâtre.
Throughout its history, the theater has been closely connected to the works of Molière (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molière)…
…with Molière personally being a central figure in the theater’s daily life from 1662, up until his death in 1673, working from the nearby Théâtre du Palais-Royal (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Théâtre_du_Palais-Royal).
The best way to visit the theater is, naturally, to see one of the available performances (all performed in French, however). Details and timetables for these performances are available from the official website, at www.comedie-francaise.fr.
Apart from performances, public can tour of the theater premises the foyer, public galleries, entrance hall, and the theater toilet.
You may also arrange a tour to the theater, available for a fee and with guidance only in French.
- the place’s history,
- the current performing company,
- administrative spaces,
- non-public galleries, and
- private rooms for the performers.
In addition to the tour and visiting the places ordinarily open to the public, you can shop at the theater’s official store, the “Librairies-Boutiques de la Comédie-Française”, at 2, rue de Richelieu.