Theater Odeon (Théâtre de l'Odéon) in Paris


The Odeon Theater (Théâtre de l'Odéon) is one of three theaters that bears the honorary title of Theater of Europe, along with the Milan Piccolo and the Moscow Maly Drama Theater. Classics and modernity are organically combined on its stage. Here you can see a new reading of the plays of Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov and other classics, get acquainted with new names of European drama.

"Child" of the French Revolution

The building of the Odeon Theater was built in the era of the enlightened King Louis XVI as a new building for the Comédie Francaise. And his wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, was present at the opening on April 9, 1782. And all the performances were held in the presence of representatives of the royal family. But the Odeon theater itself was born during the Great Revolution, the spirit of which lives in it to this day. It became the only theater in the world where the building was built before a new troupe was assembled.

In the tumultuous days of the Directory, the theater stage was a tribune for revolutionary orators. At the same time, for political reasons, the "Comedie Francaise" troupe split up: the revolutionary actors, led by Talma, went to the Theater of the Revolution, and the royalist actors were put under house arrest. It was they who became the basis of the troupe of the new theater - the Odeon Theater.

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In July 1830, the Odeon became the center of a revolutionary youth uprising. The revolutionary spirit of the theater manifested itself again on the eve of the 1948 revolution, when anti-government plays were staged on its stage, and free performances were given for students and workers. And in the spring of 1968, its walls again sheltered the rebellious Parisian youth.

Experimental laboratory for performing arts

The spirit of the French Revolution was present not only in the political views of actors and theater directors, but also in their approach to acting. In 1796, on the basis of the theater, it was planned to create an institute designed to train a new generation of dramatic artists and playwrights, in general, to give way to all the talents that can decorate the theater of France.

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В начале 19 века на сцене театра ставили современные драматические произведения и оперные спектакли. Именно тогда начала формироваться репертуарная политика труппы – основную его часть составляли пьесы современных писателей, а меньшую – произведения классиков и иностранных драматургов. Начиная с 1821 года, после постановки английской труппой пьес Шекспира в оригинале, в репертуар театра входят гастроли иностранных трупп, которые ставят спектакли на родном языке. И этот подход к составлению репертуара сохраняется до сих пор.

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On the stage of the Odeon theater, the brilliant Frederic Lemaitre broke traditional ideas about the classical role of an actor, playing roles of all genres, Sarah Bernhardt made her debut. In 1885, Paul Porel, the theater man, staged Alphonse Daudet's The Arlesienne to the music of Georges Bizet, accompanied by the Orchestra of Edouard Colonna. At the same time, they began to hold Sunday mornings with lectures by prominent theater critics.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the director of the theater André Antoine opened to the French audience Henrik Ibsen and August Strynberg, and Jean-Louis Barrot in the 1960s - Eugene Ionesco, Semuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Marguerite Duras and others. In the 1920s, under the direction of Firmin Zhemier, the repertoire was renewed: in addition to plays on contemporary themes, Shakespeare's plays were firmly established on the stage of the Odeon Theater.

On July 1, 1990, the Odeon Theater becomes the headquarters of the Union of European Theaters, on the stage of which its own performances take place for six months, and the rest of the time - performances of foreign troupes. For several years now, the Odeon Generation and Teens and Territories programs have been running in it, designed to awaken interest in theatrical art among the younger generation.

In each theatrical season, the audience is presented with performances united by one theme. The productions of the 2015-16 season united the theme of love: Ivanov and The Seagull by A. Chekhov, Tartuffe by Moliere, Richard III by W. Shakespeare, Breakfast at Wittgenstein by T. Berhard and others. In the new 2016-17 season, the performances are united by the theme of tolerance towards representatives of other peoples, religions, views: "Don Juan" by Moliere, "Suddenly last summer" by T. Williams, "2666" by R. Bolano, "Dreams and Metamorphoses" based on Ovid and Shakespeare and other productions.

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In 1995, a library specializing in theater was opened on the task of the theater. It contains documents, sound and video recordings. The theater constantly hosts philosophical readings of unpublished texts by famous writers.

Architectural symbol of the Enlightenment

In 1767, the director of the king's buildings, the Marquis de Marigny, approached the architects Marie-Joseph Peyroux and Charles de Vailly with a proposal to design a new building for the Comédie Française troupe. At the same time, architects Denis-Claude Leguin and Jean Damoun worked on another project, which is supported by the theater artists. With the support of the brother of the king in 1778, preference was given to the project of Peyre and de Vailly, which caused violent protests from the theater troupe. It got to the point that Parliament threatened to leave the artists without privileges and pensions and create a new troupe. Construction work began in May 1779. M.-J. Peyre was responsible for the exterior of the building, while Ch. De Vailly was responsible for the interiors.

The neoclassical theater building is distinguished by the rigor of its cubic forms, and its monumentality resembles the grandeur of the monuments of Antiquity. The square lobby is decorated with Tuscan columns and two symmetrical staircases lead to the foyer. The layout of the hall was revolutionary at that time, since for the first time seats for spectators were provided in the stalls. In 1965, the artist Andre Masson painted the ceiling of the auditorium with frescoes.

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In the foyer of the theater, there is the Roger Blin salon, which Jean-Louis Barrot turned into an intimate theater in 1967 to create new works. Also, meetings with cultural figures and literary readings of unpublished texts are often held here.

The second stage of the Odeon Theater is located in the Berthier atelier, which was originally built as an industrial building for storing theatrical props, and in 2005 it officially became the second theater hall.

Театр Одеон – символ эпохи Просвещения и Французской Революции, ставший в конце 20 века центром для совместной работы представителей европейского драматического искусства, которые не только стремятся оживить художественное наследие Европы, но и создают новые произведения.

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Getting there

Address: Place de l'Odéon, Paris 75006
Phone: + 33 1 44 85 40 40
Metro: Odéon
RER Train: Luxembourg