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The Bald Singer and The Lesson of Eugène Ionesco: already 20,000 performances at La Huchette

This Saturday, March 2, there will be a crowd at the Théâtre de la Huchette, in the heart of the Latin Quarter.

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The Bald Singer and The Lesson of Eugène Ionesco: already 20,000 performances at La Huchette

This Saturday, March 2, there will be a crowd at the Théâtre de la Huchette, in the heart of the Latin Quarter. One of the smallest theaters in Paris is celebrating the 20,000th performance of La Cantatrice bald and La Lesson, by Ionesco. For the occasion, Franck Desmedt, its director, who plays Kessel at Rive-Gauche, has put together a festive program. It will begin with the opening of Sébastien Marchal’s exhibition (from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.), “La Huchette – Scènes d’humanité”. The photographer tamed the troops and captured “ the magic of everyday life, the visible and the invisible.” Black and white photos show actors in makeup.

Each piece from the master of the absurd will be given twice. The Bald Singer, premiered on May 11, 1950 at the Théâtre des Noctambules (at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.). In this “empty theater”, according to the author, the characters staged by Nicolas Bataille can become “anyone, anything”. Bernard Grasset found the piece “unplayable.” And La Leçon, produced by Marcel Cuvelier and released in February 1951 at the Théâtre de Poche-Montparnasse (at 4:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.). An old professor receives a new student.

Both plays were revived at the Théâtre de la Huchette on February 16, 1957 and have become classics over the years. “Ionesco would have been very happy with this longevity,” rejoices Franck Desmedt. This is a world record for uninterrupted performances in the same venue. It’s a human adventure. We invented theater that lasts, that requires knowing how to renew itself. The texts and staging do not change, unlike the actors who are renewed. » However, at the start, the objective was far from being achieved. “These plays shake up the codes of the time,” explains the theater director. They are at the origin of the first buzz.

There were those who adored them and found that they brought a breath of freedom and others who found them annoying. The first time, the actors interpreted them in a comedic way, but it didn't work. They then performed it like a play by Ibsen and thus created a devastating and absurd humor which contributed to their success. » The Bald Singer and The Lesson still attract diverse generations, including beginner actors. “Young people who learned them at school come across old actors who already know them,” summarizes Franck Desmedt.

Spectators come from all over the world: Asia, the United States, England, English-speaking countries including Australia, and Eastern countries (Ionesco was born in Romania). Schoolchildren represent a third of the public. Every Wednesday, the plays are subtitled in English. During the Olympic Games, they will be there every day.

Théâtre de la Huchette (Paris 5th).

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