Boulevard theatre
Boulevard theatre is a theatrical aesthetic which emerged from the boulevards of Paris's old city.


Starting from the second half of the 18th century, popular and bourgeois theatre alike took up residence on the boulevard du Temple
Boulevard du Temple
The Boulevard du Temple is a thoroughfare in Paris that separates the 3rd arrondissement from the 11th. It runs from the Place de la République to the Place Pasdeloup, and its name refers to the nearby Knights Templars' Temple where they established their Paris priory.-History:The Boulevard du...

, then nicknamed Boulevard of Crime
Boulevard du Crime
The Boulevard du Crime was the nickname given in the 19th century to the Boulevard du Temple in Paris because of the many crime melodramas that were shown every night in its many theaters. It is notorious in French history for having lost so many theatres during the rebuilding of Paris by Baron...

due to the many melodramas and murder stories shown there. In addition to the many attractions on display there -- fireworks
Fireworks are a class of explosive pyrotechnic devices used for aesthetic and entertainment purposes. The most common use of a firework is as part of a fireworks display. A fireworks event is a display of the effects produced by firework devices...

, pantomime
Pantomime — not to be confused with a mime artist, a theatrical performer of mime—is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally found in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, South Africa, India, Ireland, Gibraltar and Malta, and is mostly performed during the...

, acrobats, etc. -- a so-called boulevard repertoire emerged as separate from upper-class theatre. Then, starting from the Second French Empire
Second French Empire
The Second French Empire or French Empire was the Imperial Bonapartist regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.-Rule of Napoleon III:...

, vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

 theatre and comédie d'intrigue arrived on the scene.


Boulevard theatre is an entertainment form promoted by private theatre companies. At best it is nearly always synonymous with middlebrow
The term middlebrow describes both a certain type of easily accessible art, often literature, as well as the population that uses art to acquire culture and class that is usually unattainable. First used by the British satire magazine Punch in 1925, middlebrow is derived as the intermediary between...

 theatre, mostly comedies but also drama. Except for Edmond Rostand
Edmond Rostand
Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism, and is best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac. Rostand's romantic plays provided an alternative to the naturalistic theatre popular during the late nineteenth century...

, the dialogue is almost always in prose. In general, the characters are simply drawn, ordinary or easily understandable. The dialogue is usually realistic, but in an unrealistic situation. Often, the intent is to surprise the audience with unusual happenings to characters much like themselves, or more hysterical. There is a strong tendency to avoid touchy subjects, such as politics and religion. The play is meant to entertain, not challenge preconceived ideas or offend, a successful format up to the present day in Paris, as well as New York and London for sex comedies such as La Cage aux Folles (play)
La Cage aux Folles (play)
La Cage aux Folles is a 1973 French farce by Jean Poiret centering on confusion that ensues when Laurent, the son of a Saint Tropez night club owner and his gay lover, brings his fiancée's ultraconservative parents for dinner. The original French production premiered at the Théâtre du...

 and Boeing Boeing.

Feydeau's plays

Probably the dominant literary figure is Georges Feydeau
Georges Feydeau
Georges Feydeau was a French playwright of the era known as the Belle Époque. He is remembered for his many lively farces.-Biography:Georges Feydeau was born in Paris, the son of novelist Ernest-Aimé Feydeau and Léocadie Bogaslawa Zalewska. At the age of twenty, Feydeau wrote his first comic...

, most active between 1890 and 1920, often produced up to the 21st century, whose comic plays display hard-hitting satire of persons involved in adultery and characterized by loose sexual mores, in a manner that was not seen in British theatre of the same era, much more puritan and reserved in regard to marriage relations and sexual subjects. Characters in British plays themselves associate loose talk on marriage with the French. For example, in The Madras House (1909) by Harley Granville-Barker
Harley Granville-Barker
Harley Granville-Barker was an English actor-manager, director, producer, critic and playwright....

 (1908), Thomas, on hearing some cynical remarks on marriage, says to his friend: "Phil . . . don't you be French."

List of playwrights

  • Marcel Achard
    Marcel Achard
    Marcel Achard was a French playwright and screenwriter whose popular sentimental comedies maintained his position as a highly-recognizable name in his country's theatrical and literary circles for five decades...

  • Jean Anouilh
    Jean Anouilh
    Jean Marie Lucien Pierre Anouilh was a French dramatist whose career spanned five decades. Though his work ranged from high drama to absurdist farce, Anouilh is best known for his 1943 play Antigone, an adaptation of Sophocles' Classical drama, that was seen as an attack on Marshal Pétain's...

  • Émile Augier
    Émile Augier
    Guillaume Victor Émile Augier was a French dramatist. He was the thirteenth member to occupy seat 1 of the Académie française on 31 March 1857.-Biography:...

  • Marcel Aymé
    Marcel Aymé
    Marcel Aymé was a French novelist, children's writer, humour writer and also a screenwriter and theatre playwright.- Biography :...

  • Pierre Barillet
  • Henry Bataille
    Henry Bataille
    Félix-Henri Bataille was a French dramatist and poet. His works were extremely popular between 1900 and the start of World War I....

  • Henry Becque
    Henry Becque
    Henry François Becque , French dramatist, was born in Lille.In 1867, he wrote, in imitation of Lord Byron, the libretto for Victorin de Joncières's opera Sardanapale, but his first important work, Michel Pauper, appeared in 1870. The importance of this sombre drama was first realized when it was...

  • Tristan Bernard
    Tristan Bernard
    Tristan Bernard was a French playwright, novelist, journalist and lawyer.-Life:Born Paul Bernard into a Jewish family in Besançon, Doubs, Franche-Comté, France, he was the son of an architect...

  • Henri Bernstein
    Henri Bernstein
    Henri-Léon-Gustave-Charles Bernstein was a French playwright associated with Boulevard theatre.The far-right royalist Camelots du Roi youth organization of the Action française organized an anti-Semitic riot against a production of one of his plays in 1911...

  • Henri-Frédéric Blanc
  • Edouard Bourdet
    Edouard Bourdet
    Édouard Bourdet was a French playwright.Bourdet was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, and died in Paris.He was married to the poet, Catherine Pozzi; their son was Claude Bourdet.-Plays:* 1910 : Le Rubicon...

  • Alexandre Breffort
  • Marc Camoletti
  • Isabelle Candelier
    Isabelle Candelier
    -Selected filmography:* Andre the Magnificent * Lise and Andre * Mademoiselle * Le pacte du silence * Strange Gardens * A Good Year * Bancs publics -External links:...

  • Alfred Capus
    Alfred Capus
    Alfred Capus was a French journalist and playwright, born in Aix-en-Provence and deceased in Neuilly-sur-Seine.-Biography:Son to a lawyer from Marseille, Alfred Capus went to university in Toulon...

  • Gaston Arman de Caillavet
    Gaston Arman de Caillavet
    Gaston Arman de Caillavet was a French playwright. He was the son of Albert Arman de Caillavet and Léontine Lippmann, the muse of Anatole France. In April 1893 he married Jeanne Pouquet...

  • Jean Cocteau
    Jean Cocteau
    Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Hugo, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, María...

  • Georges Courteline
    Georges Courteline
    Georges Courteline was a French dramatist and novelist.Born Georges Victor Marcel Moinaux, in Tours in the Indre-et-Loire département, his family moved to Paris shortly after his birth...

  • Lucien Descaves
    Lucien Descaves
    Lucien Descaves was a French novelist. A disciple of Joris-Karl Huysmans and the Goncourt brothers his novels Le Calvaire d'Héloïse Pajadou and Une vieille rate followed strongly the naturalism movement.The anti-military novel, Sous-Offs provoked a scandal...

  • Jacques Deval
  • Maurice Donnay
  • Françoise Dorin
  • Alexandre Dumas, fils
    Alexandre Dumas, fils
    Alexandre Dumas, fils was a French author and dramatist. He was the son of Alexandre Dumas, père, also a writer and playwright.-Biography:...

  • Georges Feydeau
    Georges Feydeau
    Georges Feydeau was a French playwright of the era known as the Belle Époque. He is remembered for his many lively farces.-Biography:Georges Feydeau was born in Paris, the son of novelist Ernest-Aimé Feydeau and Léocadie Bogaslawa Zalewska. At the age of twenty, Feydeau wrote his first comic...

  • Robert de Flers
    Robert de Flers
    Robert de Flers was a French playwright, opera librettist, and journalist....

  • Jean-Pierre Gredy
  • Sacha Guitry
    Sacha Guitry
    Alexandre-Pierre Georges Guitry was a French stage actor, film actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright of the Boulevard theatre.- Biography :...

  • Albert Husson
  • Eugène Labiche
  • Henri Lavedan
    Henri Lavedan
    Henri Léon Emile Lavedan , French dramatist and man of letters, was born at Orléans, the son of Hubert Léon Lavedan, a well-known Catholic and liberal journalist....

  • Julien Luchaire
  • Claude Magnier
  • Félicien Marceau
    Félicien Marceau
    Félicien Marceau is the pen name of Louis Carette a French novelist, playwright and essayist originally from Belgium. He was close to the Hussards right-wing literary movement, itself close to the monarchist .He received the Prix Goncourt for his book Creezy in 1969...

  • Marcel Mithois
  • Marcel Pagnol
    Marcel Pagnol
    Marcel Pagnol was a French novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. In 1946, he became the first filmmaker elected to the Académie Française.-Biography:...

  • René Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt
    René Charles Guilbert de Pixérécourt
    René Charles Guilbert de Pixerécourt was a French theatre director and playwright, active at the Théâtre de la Gaîté and best known for his modern melodramas such as The Dog of Montarges, the performance of which at Weimar roused the indignation of Goethe.-Life:He was born at Nancy into a Lorraine...

  • Jean Poiret
    Jean Poiret
    Jean Poiret, born Jean Poiré, was a French actor, director, and screenwriter. He is primarily known as the author of the original play La Cage Aux Folles. Jean Poiret was born in Paris, France, where he died of a heart attack in 1992...

  • Georges de Porto-Riche
    Georges de Porto-Riche
    Georges de Porto-Riche was a French dramatist and novelist.At the age of twenty, his pieces in verse began to be produced at the Parisian theatres; he also wrote some books of verse which met with a favorable reception, but these early works were not reprinted...

  • Claude-André Puget
  • Jules Romain
  • Edmond Rostand
    Edmond Rostand
    Edmond Eugène Alexis Rostand was a French poet and dramatist. He is associated with neo-romanticism, and is best known for his play Cyrano de Bergerac. Rostand's romantic plays provided an alternative to the naturalistic theatre popular during the late nineteenth century...

  • André Roussin
    André Roussin
    André Roussin, , was a French playwright. Born in Marseille, he was elected to the Académie française April 12, 1973.-Bibliography:*1933 Patiences et impatiences*1944 Am Stram Gram...

  • Armand Salacrou
    Armand Salacrou
    Armand Camille Salacrou was a French dramatist.He was born in Rouen, but spent most of his childhood at Le Havre, and moved to Paris in 1917. His first works show the influence of the Surrealists....

  • Victorien Sardou
    Victorien Sardou
    Victorien Sardou was a French dramatist. He is best remembered today for his development, along with Eugène Scribe, of the well-made play...

  • Jean Sarment
  • Eugène Scribe
    Eugène Scribe
    Augustin Eugène Scribe , was a French dramatist and librettist. He is best known for the perfection of the so-called "well-made play" . This dramatic formula was a mainstay of popular theater for over 100 years.-Biography:...

  • Robert Thomas
    Robert Thomas
    Robert Thomas, Rob Thomas or Bob Thomas is the name of:* Rob Thomas , singer-songwriter, lead singer of Matchbox Twenty* Robert Thomas , 18th-century British counterfeiter, see Cragg Coiners...

  • Francis Veber
    Francis Veber
    Francis Paul Veber is a French film director, screenwriter and producer, and theater playwright. Many of his French comedies feature recurring types of characters, named François Pignon and François Perrin...

  • Louis Verneuil
    Louis Verneuil
    Louis Jacques Marie Collin du Bocage , better known by the pen name Louis Verneuil, was a French playwright, screenwriter, and actor....

  • Maurice Yvain

Further reading

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