L’Avant-Scène Enjoyed a Memorable Fall 2019 Season

Monday, November 30, 2020

Michael Smilek '20, and Romy Khoneisser

Michael Smilek '20, and Romy Khoneisser

 
L’Avant-Scène enjoyed a spectacular, nineteenth, Fall 2019 season, The eighth annual edition of Seuls en Scène, Princeton French Theater Festival, a collaboration between the Department of French and Italian, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and L’Avant-Scène launched the season in late September 2019. The lineup included six professionals shows from France, one staged-reading, and one conversation open to the public featuring works by Pascal Rambert, Edouard Louis, Don DeLillo, and Michael Foucault. With an emphasis on the new generation of leading French and European theater artists, the festival brought renowned actors and directors from France such as Julien Gosselin, Aurélie Charon, Fanny de Chaillé, Emmanuelle Lafon, and François de Brauer who joined celebrated theater-makers Stanislas Nordey and Pascal Rambert. Seuls en Scène started a new partnership with Festival d’Automne in Paris, one of the premier theater festivals in France created in 1972. This partnership aims at bringing stellar small-scale productions of Festival d’Automne to Princeton.

Three productions traveled elsewhere in the United States and Canada. Usine C Montréal presented Le Marteau et la faucilleFIAF French Institute Alliance Française welcomed Radio Live and Invisible Dog Art Center, in collaboration with FIAF’s Crossing the Line presented Le désordre du discours.

Morgan Teman ‘23, Michael Smilek ‘20 and Gavin LaPlace ‘23 in “Le Mariage de Figaro” by Beaumarchais

Morgan Teman ‘23, Michael Smilek ‘20 and Gavin LaPlace ‘23 in “Le Mariage de Figaro” by Beaumarchais

Students performed in a record number of productions. The contemporary classic Le Pays lointain by Jean-Luc Lagarce opened the season in mid-October, followed by Le Mariage de Figaro by Beaumarchais in late November, and Les Fourberies de Scapin by Molière in early December. Twenty undergraduate students, three graduate students, a professor, a visiting scholar, a French exchange student, and a local high school student acted in the troupe this fall, delivering memorable performances of the popular plays and captivating audiences with their enhanced language and acting skills.

The cast of Le Pays lointain

The cast of Le Pays lointain

Clément Hervieu-Léger, French actor and director from the Comédie-Française visited L’Avant-Scène in early October 2019 as a Short-Term Belknap Fellow in the Humanities Council and French and Italian. Clément attended rehearsals of the troupe, class sessions of FRE/THR 211 and participated in public events such as Princeton Garden Theater’s screening of his Le Misanthrope at the Comédie-Française.

In early December 2019, L’Avant-Scène participated in Caribbean Theater Action, or Actions Caribéennes Théâtrales (ACT) which provides a cultural dialogue between the United States and the Francophone Caribbean. The troupe read The Day My Father Killed Me / Le jour où mon père m’a tué written by Magali Solignat & Charlotte Boimare (Guadeloupe) at the Martin E. Segal Theater Center in a translation by Amelia Parenteau.

Nineteen undergraduates were enrolled in FRE/THR 211, and they presented their final works during Fragments XIX, A Student Recital of Classical French Theater Scenes at the Whitman College Class of 1970 Theater on December 10, 2019. With these new talents, the future looks bright for the troupe!

The student cast of “Le Mariage de Figaro” by Beaumarchais

The student cast of “Le Mariage de Figaro” by Beaumarchais

Seniors Jianing Zhao ‘20, Jivahn Moradian ‘20, Jane Sul ‘20 and Michael Smilek ‘20 completed their journey at L’Avant-Scène. Together they performed in fourteen plays over their three years in the program.

During the spring semester, Jianing Zhao ‘20 will direct Les chaises by Ionesco in French as part of the requirement for her Theater Certificate. Her play will be a new collaboration between the Lewis Center for the Arts Program in Theater and L’Avant-Scène. Information on the production will be posted soon.

Florent Masse produced this new exciting season of L’Avant-Scène. He directed the student productions and produced and curated the new edition of Seuls en Scène.

The cast of L’Avant-Scène’s “Les Fourberies de Scapin” fall 2019

The cast of L’Avant-Scène’s “Les Fourberies de Scapin” fall 2019

Several university and institutional partners helped sponsor and make possible these achievements this season. They are the Lewis Center of the ArtsHumanities CouncilOffice of the Provost,  Princeton Institute for International and Regional StudiesDepartment of Art and Archaeology,  Department of Comparative LiteratureProgram in Contemporary European Studies and SocietyCenter for French StudiesRockefeller Collegethe FACE FoundationInstitut français, and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Generous and supportive members of the Princeton francophone actively engaged with the festival and the students’ productions. We are eternally grateful for their continued support.