Performance of Shakespeare in France Since the Second World War

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Provides a comprehensive survey and critical evaluation of Shakespearian production in France from the 1960s to the end of the twentieth century. Through a study of the specifics of a large number of productions, the work theorises the strategies used by each new wave of directors to influence the Shakespearian repertoire and generate new appropriations of Shakespeare’s theatre, from critical interpretations of his plays in the light of the theories of Bertolt Brecht and Jan Kott in the 1960s and the iconoclastic radicalisations of the 1970s to the self-referential post-modern “theatre of images” of the 1980s and 1990s and the playful and radical appropriations of the young directors of the 1990s. This original study makes a significant contribution to the study of Shakespeare’s place in France, surveying forty years of changes and innovations in Shakespearian theatre production. It also opens up a new area of debate within the established field of Shakespearian studies, relocating it in the arena of cultural politics in France. The book contains a valuable database recording new Shakespearian productions in France between 1960 and 1997.


“ ... The author observes that in the period under review Shakespeare production in France has been more experimental than in England where he is treated more as ‘a revered national playwright and icon’ ... The relationship between Shakespeare and France seems to be symbiotic, but of course the most important and sustained organism is between Shakespeare’s plays and the French theatre and that as Dr. Fayard rightly says has achieved permanency and will flourish and develop. In this process, her book provides a thoroughly researched, intellectually stimulating and vividly written account of Shakespeare in France since the 1960s that will be the standard work on the subject for years to come.” – (from the Preface) Professor Richard Foulkes, University of Leicester

“This book is a well-researched and highly readable account of the changing and influential role Shakespearean productions have played in France in the second half of the twentieth century. It will be of interest to students of Shakespeare generally, but also to anyone who is interested in the evolution of theatrical performances and theatre. Shakespeare has, perhaps surprisingly to the English reader, become a major, and as Dr. Fayard convincingly argues, at times the major dramatist in terms of performed theatre in France during the period studied ...” – Professor John Rothenberg, University of Leeds

“In a scholarly work of great breadth and depth, Dr. Fayard examines the growth and evolution of Shakespearean production on the French stage and the important place Shakespeare came to occupy in French cultural policy, with special reference to his importance in the official policy of theatrical decentralisation ... An impressive and welcome addition to Shakespeare Studies, relevant on both sides of the Channel!” – Professor Robert V. Kenny, University of Leicester

Table of Contents

1. Shakespeare in France after the Second World War
2. New Beginnings: Shakespeare in France in the 1960s
3. More Shakespearian than Shakespeare: the director as creator
4. Reinventing Shakespeare in the 1980s and 1990s
5. 1990s young directors and new directions
6. Three representative directors
7. Explaining Shakespeare’s permanence in France
Appendix: The Tables

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