French Neoclassical Theatre Objectives

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French Neoclassical Theatre


After studying this chapter, the student should be able to:

  • Identify the tenets of French neoclassical doctrine.

  • Identify significant playwrights of the French neoclassical drama.

  • Identify the production practices of Neoclassical France, including scenery and technology.

  • Identify the major theater buildings of Neoclassical France.

  • Identify the organization and composition of acting companies.

Lecture Topics

What influences did Italian theatre have on French neoclassical drama?

What prominent French theater buildings were built during the Renaissance?
How were acting companies organized during the French Renaissance?

Discussion Topics

What role did the French Academy play in dramaturgy?

What did the Hôtel de Bourgogne look like?
What was the controversy surrounding Le Cid?
Why is the creation of the Comédie Française significant for future theaters in other countries?


Please choose the answer that best completes each sentence.

1. Shareholders in French acting companies were known as:

A. pensionnaires

B. doyen
*C. sociétaires
D. none of the above

2. ____________________________, married to Molière, was the leading actress in her husband's troupe.

A. Guerin d'Estriche
*B. Armande Béjart
C. Marie Herve
D. Marquise-Therese de Gorla

3. The ____________________________ was organized in Paris to present religious plays.

*A. Confrérie de la Passion
B. Hôtel de Bourgogne
C. French Academy
D. Pléiade

4. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, French Theatre was most similar to:

A. German
B. Spanish
C. Elizabethan
*D. Italian

5. The man generally considered to be the first fully professional playwright in France was

*A. Alexandre Hardy

B. Pierre Corneille

C. Tiberio Fiorillo

D. Montdory des Gilleberts

6. __________________________, by Jean Racine is one of the most famous French tragedies of all time.
A. Tartuffe
B. Le Cid
*C. Phaedra
D. The Miser

7. The _________________________, a converted indoor tennis court, was competition for the Hôtel de Bourgogne.

A. Salles des Amphitheater
B. Théâter de Guenegaud
*C. Théâter du Marais
D. Théâter du Soleil

8. The __________________________ is a government-supported French National Theater and was formed when Louis XIV merged two earlier troupes.

*A. Comédie Française
B. Royal National Theater
C. Hôtel de Bourgogne
D. Salle des Machines

9. According to your text, the finest French tragic actor of the late seventeenth century was:

A. Molière
B. Jean Racine
C. Michel Guenegaud
*D. Michel Baron

10. Which of the following statements is true of the French Theatre?

A. French Theatre was primarily for the working class.
*B. Performances were generally in the afternoon or early evening.
C. Public performances played to full capacity.
D. All of the above

11. In France, the second stage which was raised from the main platform was known as the _________________________.

A. théâter de dieu
*B. théâter superieure
C. théâter libre
D. théâter de cour

12. Le Cid, by _______________ embroiled the author in a controversy involving adherence to neoclassical doctrine.

A. Molière
B. Jean Racine
*C. Pierre Corneille
D. Jean de la Taille

13. In the mid-sixteenth century, a literary group known as the ____________ was formed to further writing and culture.

A. Bourgogne

*B. Pléiade

C. comedy-française

D. None of the above

14. _____________, by Molière caused a controversy because its title character is a religious hypocrite.

*A. Tartuffe

B. The Would-Be Gentleman

C. The Miser

D. Sganarelle
15. The _________________, completed in 1548, was the only permanent theater building in Paris for nearly a century.

A. Palais Royale

B. Théâtre du Marais

C. Comédie Française

*D. Hôtel de Bourgogne
16. ____________________, which were housed in long, narrow buildings, were easily transformed into theaters in France.

*A. Indoor tennis courts

B. Indoor soccer fields

C. Cathedrals

D. None of the above
17. ___________________ was the first proscenium-arch theater in France and accommodated almost 1,500 people.

A. Hôtel de Bourgogne

*B. Palais Cardinal

C. Théâtre du Marais

D. Petit Bourbon
18. Giacomo Torelli transformed a royal palace, the _______________, into an Italian-style Theater.

A. Salles des Machines

B. Comédie Française

C. Hôtel de Bourgogne

*D. Petit Bourbon
19. The Petit Bourbon was torn down and the ___________ was built in 1660, which became the largest theater in Europe.

*A. Salle des Machines

B. Comédie Française

C. Palais Royal

D. Théâtre du Marais
20. Rehearsals were supervised by the ____________in France.

A. playwright

B. leading actor of the company

*C. either A or B

D. neither A nor B
21. The head of the acting company was the _____________, the actor with the longest service in the troupe.

A. sociétaire

B. pensionnaire

*C. doyen

D. maestro
22. French companies sometimes hired annually contracted actors known as

A. sociétaires

*B. pensionnaires

C. doyen

D. actors de couer
23. Which of the following is true of the Comédie Française?

A. Its interior had a horseshoe-shape construction.

B. It was a converted tennis court.

*C. Both A and B

D. Neither A nor B
24. Which of the following is true of audiences in French theaters:

A. They included all strata of society.

B. The parterre was only for men.

C. They sometimes sat on the stage.

*D. All of the above
25. The Renaissance arrived in France ______________ the rest of Europe.

A. sooner than in

*B. later than in

C. at the same time as


Please choose whether the statement is true or false.

26. Italy was a strong influence on both politics and culture in France.


27. The Confrérie de la Passion presented religious plays in the Hôtel de Bourgogne.


28. Court entertainment emerged in France in the last half of the sixteenth century.


29. Cardinal Richelieu promoted standards in French literature and the arts, which had a strong Italian influence.


30. Phaedra was criticized for not adhering to the neoclassical rules.


31. Molière’s contrived plots are frequently resolved by a deus ex machine.


32. The Hôtel de Bourgogne is an example of a proscenium-arch theater.


33. It was customary to allow spectators onstage during the late seventeenth century, French neoclassical era.


34. Women were not allowed to become shareholders in French acting companies.


35. National theatres are generally praised for being innovative and revolutionary.




36. Describe the sharing plan used by French actors during the Renaissance.

37. Compare and contrast a play of French neoclassicism with a play of the English Renaissance.

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