This course on the French theatre is taught in conjunction with the famous summer theatre festival held in Avignon, France, a short train ride from Arles. Our classroom work begins with an introduction to the origins of the French theatre in the 17th century and includes an overview of the French theatre from that period to our own. Where their engagement with discrete plays is concerned, students will read and analyze the texts of selected plays that will be performed at next summer's Avignon theatre festival, where they will be attending the performance of that play. In Avignon, students will also meet with directors and actors involved in this summer's festival so as to discuss issues related to theatrical production. Our primary reading materials are the plays we study, which are determined by the offerings at the festival. The definitive list will be introduced into this website as soon as the festival makes its selections known. The course will include short lectures and class discussion, evenings (or mornings) at the theatre, and debates with theatre actors and other professionals. Students must complete all required readings, participate in consistent and meaningful ways related to class discussions and debates, and write two short term papers and one longer final paper. All work will be completed in French.
Method of presentation:
Lectures, discussions, attendance of performances, discourse with professionals.
Required work and form of assessment:
Full reading of the texts, active participation in class, final paper (7-8 pages) and written exercises (3-4 pages).
1st Session: Introduction to the course
Historical overview of theatre in France
Short history of the Avignon Festival
2nd Session: Brief presentation of Classical Theatre
Different sorts of plays (Tragedy/Comedy) Introduction to Molière’s play : l’Ecole des femmes
Students must have read entirely Molière’s play : « L’Ecole des Femmes »
Study and commentaries in class
What makes it a « classical » play (or not !)
5th Session: 18th Century Theatre
Explanation in class of the difficulties of Marivaux’s play La Dispute
Study of the different characters
What is production ?
Further reading of Marivaux’s play « La Dispute »
Notions of production and role of the Director
Notion of « reading » a play
Written exercise : comment Jean-Pierre Miquel’s article on « the Director »
Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of cruelty
Themes of loneliness and violence
Exercise : Prepare Questions for Visit to Avignon
Antonin Artaud’s Conference du Vieux Colombier
Field Study: Avignon
Departure for Avignon where we will spend the entire day (date to be determined). We will discover Avignon and different performing places. We will be welcomed at the « Maison Jean Vilar »to hear about the founder of the Festival and to be informed on audio and visual archives. After the performance, we will talk with actors; each student must have questions ready. Afternoon Free time for a production or a lecture. Evening return to Arles.
Debate on play seen the previous day.
Introduction to Valère Novarina’s text : Réserve d’acteurs
News forms, work on sounds, language as a noise
Exercise: what surprised you in the Director’s choices?
Text to be read
Study of the difficulties of the text
Construction of the Play
The role of music
Field Study: Afternoon excursion to Avignon
Debate and conclusions on plays studied
Can theatre still find its place in our modern society ?