Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The French boards, part 1

Part one of a post about French theater, ie something we rarely see in New York.

First, the past…

Reading about the recent publication of the correspondence of Gérard Philipe and his friend, actor/writer Georges Perros, I learned that even when he was a huge star in the 1940s and 1950s (think James Dean if he had been French, known equally for this theater work as for his films, and a Marx reader), Philipe's name would be listed in the middle of the casts in Jean Vilar's Théâtre National Populaire, which were organized alphabetically. The entire troupe, including him, also made the same salary. Granted, he also had an income from his screen hits, but still, I like that he was paid the same as his less famous colleagues.

I was also stunned to learn that since the troupe put on classics in repertory, Philipe could play up to four different parts in a single week—and we're talking big leads here, like the title characters in Corneille's Le Cid or Kleist's The Prince of Homburg.

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