La Comédie-Française

Comédie-Française, Paris – In this elegant room, theater patrons can enjoy refreshments. © David H. Enzel, 2023

The Comédie-Française is the oldest active theater company in the world. It was founded on August 8, 1680 by a decree of Louis XIV (1643-1715), merging the only two Parisian acting troupes in existence at the time.

The company’s primary venue is the Salle Richelieu (shown below), which is a part of the Palais-Royal complex and located at 2, Rue de Richelieu on Place André-Malraux in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The Comédie-Française became a French state-controlled entity in 1995. It is the only state theater in France to have its own permanent troupe of actors.

The theater has also been known as the Théâtre de la République and popularly as “La Maison de Molière” (The House of Molière). It acquired the latter name from the troupe of the best-known playwright associated with the Comédie-Française, Molière (1622-1673). Molière died seven years before his troupe became known as the Comédie-Française, but the company continued to be known as “La Maison de Molière” even after the official change of name. The Comédiens-Français consider him as their “patron”, performing his plays and celebrating him each year when the troupe pays tribute to him on January 15, the day of his baptism.

Although The Comédie-Française is often associated with the “classical repertoire”, creation is in its DNA. Until the 19th century contemporary pieces formed the bulk of its programming. Today the Comédie-Française presents works of all types, from all periods, French and foreign.

If you speak French, it is worth buying tickets and going to a performance. In 2023, I saw a modern production — Médée d’après Euripide — which I enjoyed.  You can see what’s on offer now and buy tickets here.

Leave a Comment