Tag Archives: Louis Ravet

André Antoine – L’Hirondelle et la mésange (1920)


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André Antoine and the Realist Tradition

After its humiliating defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, France went through a social revolution. Over the next twenty years, many of its long-standing artistic traditions, such as the classical style of Academy painting, would be cast off in favor of new approaches, such as Impressionism. Live theater was one of the few holdovers from the pre-war era — formulaic pieces spoken by actors in dull declamatory style. But change was coming, voiced by the prophet of naturalism, novelist Emile Zola. “A work must be based in the real . . . on nature,” Zola wrote in Naturalism in the Theater. Zola explained that a playwright must observe facts, with no abstract characters or invented fantasies. Rising to meet this challenge, actor, and theater director André Antoine (1858-1943) founded the Theatre Libre, essentially a community theater, dedicated to showing new work by innovative writers. Antoine also staged works by controversial playwrights from outside of France, such as Ibsen and Chekhov. Under Antoine’s guidance, French theater became serious and legitimate. What is less known about Antoine is that he was also a film director, and a vital link in the development of the ‘realist tradition’ that has so enriched world cinema(…) Read More »