Internal and External Dramaturgies: The French Context

Finburgh, Clare. 2010. Internal and External Dramaturgies: The French Context. Contemporary Theatre Review, 20(2), pp. 203-213. ISSN 1048-6801 [Article]

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What do ‘dramaturgy’ and ‘dramaturg’ mean in a French context? To explore these questions, I interviewed French theatre-makers who, between them, have practised dramaturgy since the 1960s. Jean Jourdheuil worked as dramaturg with Jean-Pierre Vincent in the late 1960s and early 1970s.2 2. Vincent (1942-) is one of France's foremost politically committed directors; and one of its main exponents in terms of Brecthian theory. With Jourdheuil, Vincent founded the Théâtre de l'Espérance in the 1970s, and since then has been artistic director of such prestigious venues as the Théâtre National de Strasbourg (1975–83), Comédie-Française (1983–86) and Amandiers-Nanterre (1990–2001). His productions focus mainly on the classics, employing dramaturgical analysis to interrogate the relationship between theatre, history and society.
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For a more contemporary perspective, I approached Bruno Tackels, who has worked as dramaturg with two highly experimental French contemporary playwright-directors, Didier Georges Gabily and François Tanguy.3 3. The plays and productions of Gabily (1955–1996), who worked in collaboration with his group T'chan'G', were preoccupied with the relationship between theatre, myth and the world; the trilogy Gibiers du temps, for example, stages encounters between figures like Theseus, Phaedra, Hermes, and the Amazons. Tanguy (1955-), who has worked with the Théâtre du Radeau since the 1980s, employs dramaturgical analysis to adapt classic texts, for example Molière or Shakespeare, or mythical figures like Faust, to produce spectacles with great visual, aural and sensory appeal.
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Whilst Tackels has worked essentially with and on contemporary artists, Anne-Françoise Benhamou serves as dramaturg, primarily on classic texts, for director Stéphane Braunschweig.4 4. Artistic director of the Théâtre National de Strasbourg (TNS) from 2000 to 2008 and now director of the Théâtre de la Colline, Braunschweig, a philosophy scholar, mainly stages the classics – Molière, Ibsen – to which he brings acute analytical rigour and dramaturgically charged scenography. Like his teacher, Antoine Vitez, he is a pedagogue, in 2002 introducing a dramaturgy qualification to the TNS School.
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In 2000, she also helped to found the dramaturgy section of the École supérieure d'Art Dramatique at the Théâtre National de Strasbourg (TNS), which established France's first dramaturgy degree scheme. Adèle Chaniolleau, whom I also interview, graduated from this course in 2007. Joseph Danan, practising dramaturg and academic at the University of Paris III, offers a definition of dramaturgy with respect to contemporary French playwriting. I therefore also invite a contemporary French playwright to respond. Noëlle Renaude thus completes my panel.

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Theatre and Performance (TAP)


9 June 2010Published

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06 Apr 2017 15:34

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17 Oct 2017 13:08

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