What has the government done on behalf the Comédie Française to stomp out its competitors?


The Comédie Française, the oldest national theater in the world, is an actor-centered company that has produced some of the world’s greatest talent (e.g. Adrienne Lecouvreur, Sarah Bernhardt, Jean-Louis Barrault).

It has not, however, always succeeded on its merits alone:

Year Action Result
1680 Louis XIV combines the two extant acting companies to create the Comédie Française. This creates, for a short time, a theatre monopoly — but then the Italians move in.
1697 Responding to the jealousy of hiscomédiens-français, Louis XIV closes down the popular competing Italian Theatre of Paris and sends the Italians packing. Other venues (previously dedicated to vaudeville-style entertainments) pick up the Italian repertoire and begin performing it on their own. The public, missing the Italians, begins frequenting these venues.
1706 All venues except the Comédie Français are prohibited from using dialogue onstage. The other companies perform plays consisting entirely of monologues. Other onstage characters respond with gestures, or wait until the speaking character runs offstage to speak themselves. The innovation proves fun and popular.
1709 The use of any spoken word whatsoever is prohibited in other venues. Characters in these theatres communicate only through song and mime. The French operetta is born to great success.
1709 Singing onstage is limited to theRoyal Academy of Music.

Stories are told using only mime and very popular songs to which all theatregoers would know the lyrics. The audience is thus able to sing the show to themselves (with the help of onstage cue cards worn by the silent actors). This early version of karaoke proves to be a big hit.*

1715 Louis XIV dies of gangrene. Crowds boo the dead body as it is carried to its funeral.

The Italians are invited to return to the city; other performers are now prohibited from performing Italian plots. The high competition and legal between the major theatres will continue, but the influence of the past 35 years of innovations will not be lost.

TO SEE THE COMÉDIE FRANÇAISE IN ACTION: The Comédie Française, it should be pointed out, is no longer as staid as in centuries past. It is split among three stages. For tickets, go to: www.comedie-francaise.fr.

1. Salle Richelieu, Place Colette, +33

2. Theatre du Vieux-Colombier, 21 rue du Vieux Colombier, +33

3. Studio-Theatre, 99 rue de Rivoli, +33

* This is thought by some to explain the origin of the term “vaudeville:” these performances were voix-de-ville, or the voices of the city.

Thanks for reading our treatises on cross-cultural boozing and boinking. On rare occasions, this site contains automatically monetized affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


  1. Tipsy Pilgrim
    August 31, 2012

    Corrected. Thanks!!

  2. August 27, 2012

    Just discovered your blog and I have only one word: AWESOME! But for the sake of your fluency in French, you might want to correct this post, as it's "Comédie Française" and not "Comédié"! But once again, awesome blog, I especially loved the pick-up lines in French and Galician.

Leave a reply


Comments Policy

We read the comments; useful additions and corrections are quite welcome, and articles are frequently updated based on comments from readers. • We do our best to delete ethnocentric, xenophobic, and other useless comments. • Offended? Think we've got your culture all wrong? Nationalism (or regionalism, patriotism, whatever) is an understandable reaction; it’s also boring. Disagree with something? Tell us what you think joking, flirting, drinking, sex, dancing and other debauchery in your culture is really like. If you don't like these things, or want to pretend that your culture doesn't have a unique take on them, you're really in the wrong place. • This site, like any cultural anthropology, deals in generalizations. Of course not each and every person does blah, blah, blah... • And finally, before you go thinking this is all about you, you may want to bounce around the site a bit and learn about the ridiculous ways we screw, drink, and dance in other parts of the world.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.