2019Arts and PhilosophyTheater, Cinema
Ariane Mnouchkine photo

Ariane Mnouchkine

  • / 1939-
  • Stage Director
  • Founder and Director, Théâtre du Soleil

A Stage Director Who Has Innovated Theatrical Expressions Through Her Original Masterpieces for Over Half a Century

Mrs. Mnouchkine, the founder and director of the Théâtre du Soleil, has been continuously producing masterpieces with historical and political themes. Referring to traditional performances of both the East and the West, she has been innovating theatrical expressions through her collaborative creations based on the methodology of her unique theatrical organization which eschews hierarchical order.

Profile

Brief Biography

1939
Born in Boulogne-Billancourt, France
late 1950s
Joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society and the Experimental Theatrical Club
1959
Established the Association Théâtrale des Étudiants de Paris when studying at the Sorbonne
1964
Founded the Théâtre du Soleil
1970
The Théâtre du Soleil moved into the Cartoucherie of Vincennes
1984
Started the collaboration with Hélène Cixous
2005
Held a workshop and helped to create the Théâtre Aftaab in Kabul

Selected Awards and Honors

1987
Europe Theatre Prize
1993
Special Citation of Obie Awards
2005
Honorary Doctor, Roma Tre University
2007
Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, Venice Biennale
2008
Honorary Doctor, University of Oxford
2009
International Ibsen Award
2012
International Stanislavsky Prize
2015
Pablo Neruda Order of Artistic and Cultural Merit (Chile)
2017
Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt am Main

Selected Works

1964

Les Petits Bourgeois(Maxim Gorky)

1967

La Cuisine (Arnold Wesker)

1970

1789, la révolution doit s’arrêter à la perfection du bonheur

1975

L’Âge d’or

1981

Richard II(William Shakespeare)

1985

L’Histoire terrible mais inachevée de Norodom Sihanouk, roi du Cambodge,

(Hélène Cixous)

1987

L’Indiade ou l’Inde de leurs rêves (Hélène Cixous)

1990–1992

Les Atrides: Iphigénie à Aulis (Euripides),

Agamemnon, Les Choéphores, Les Euménides(Aeschylus)

1999

Tambours sur la digue (Hélène Cixous)

2003

Le Dernier Caravansérail (Odyssées)

2006

Les Éphémères

2010

Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir(with Hélène Cixous)

2016

Une Chambre en Inde

Achievement

A Stage Director Who Has Innovated Theatrical Expressions Through Her Original Masterpieces for Over Half a Century

Mrs. Ariane Mnouchkine has led the Théâtre du Soleil, a theater company she founded in 1964, for over half a century, and has continuously produced internationally acclaimed masterpieces. At the root of her superb talent lies a strong belief that theater is a form of art that should be collaboratively perceived, created, and enjoyed. She has gathered diverse talents and fostered their high mentality and rampant creativity by exploring and developing their latent skills and imaginations.

While producing for the stage, Mrs. Mnouchkine first inquired what theater is or should be and reconsidered its basic principles. This resulted in her original, hierarchy-free theatrical organization with its unique methodology of stage creation. She also considered the audience to be an important member of the “creators” indispensable to theater and attempted to build strong relationships between performer, director, and audience. Since the Théâtre du Soleil started its activities in the Cartoucherie (originally an ammunition factory transformed into a playhouse) in the outskirts of Paris, its performances have been appreciated like festive topos where all kinds of people encountered one another. It could be said that the Théâtre du Soleil embodied the ideal of “public theater.”

In order to keep her audiences emotionally engaged, Mrs. Mnouchkine pursued a theatrical method that emphasized physicality by referring to traditional performances such as circus, commedia dell’arte, Japanese Noh, Kabuki, Bunraku, and Indian Kathakali. She reconstructed them using modern sensibilities and explored a method of utilizing actors’ improvisation techniques, which culminated in her Tambours sur la digue (Drums on the Dam), which was inspired by Bunraku. In this work, she attempted to create a comprehensive art form that blended theater with various other genres such as dance, music, and literature. In experimental productions within the field of contemporary theater, her achievements have been remarkable.

In the early 1980s, she produced a cycle of three Shakespeare plays starting with Richard II(1981) and demonstrated her deep insight and superb directorial skills in her approach to classical plays. As in her prior works, 1789, la révolution doit s’arrêter à la perfection du bonheur(1789 or The Revolution Must Only Stop at the Perfection of Happiness) (1970) and Méphisto (Mephisto) (1979), she took a novel view of her own history along with those of her contemporaries and tried to shed new light on the chaotic darkness that plagued the modern age. Mrs. Mnouchkine preserved a reasonable amount of entertainment value while also strongly warning against the contemporary history and politics in L’Histoire terrible mais inachevée de Norodom Sihanouk, roi du Cambodge(The Terrible but Unfinished Story of Norodom Sihanouk, King of Cambodia) (1985) written by HélèneCixous, featuring Cambodian genocide through the epic, Et soudain des nuits d’eveil(And Suddenly Wakeful Nights) (1997), featuring Tibet under oppression, and Le Dernier Caravansérail(The Last Caravanserai) (2003), depicting the hardships of refugees through their numerous testimonies.

All her theatrical activities are motivated by her strong determination to be involved with contemporary politics and society, and that is why she ventured as far as India and Afghanistan to hold workshops and instruct local actors. The Théâtre Aftaab, which was formed during her workshop in Kabul, has been active for more than a decade. Over several generations of actors, the Théâtre du Soleil has also achieved great success in fostering numerous multinational actors.

Lecture

Abstract of the Lecture

Workshop
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PAGETOP