Rereading Molière: Mise en Scène from Antoine to Vitez investigates the strategies employed by some of the most influential French directors of the present century to create radical interpretations of Molière's classic texts. At the same time, the book explores how these reinterpretations of Molière's popular comedies have articulated a revisionist version of French cultural history.
The book focuses on five productions of two Molière plays: André Antoine's and Jacque Arnavon's 1907 Tartuffe, Arnavon's 1936 School for Wives, Roger Planchon's two productions of Tartuffe in the 1960s and 1970s, and Antoine Vitez's Molière tetralogy of 1978. These productions represent not only some of the best stagings of Molière in this century, but also key moments in the history of French theater, as each one marks an important development in the ways that plays from the classical period were staged in France. Taken together, these productions constitute an almost century-long exploration of the status and identity of "the classics" in twentieth-century French theater. At the same time, these productions reveal an abiding interest in exploring the ever-shifting understanding of the Grand Siècle, the Golden Age of the seventeenth century, as a value in modern and contemporary French culture.
Rereading Molière examines a range of critical issues: the relationship between director and playwright as manifested in directors' attitudes to the classic text; developments in directors' strategies for adapting the dramaturgy and scenography of the 1660s to the aesthetics of the twentieth century; and developments in directors' responses to the ideologies of "fidelity" and "realism."