Ariane Mnouchkine

Definition

Theater

  • (1939 - ) French theater director, noted forher commitment to collective creation. Mnouchkine studiedin Paris and Oxford and travelled extensively around the Orient beforereturning to France to form the Théâtre du Soleilin 1964. The company came to public attention in 1967 with a highlysuccessful production of Arnold Wesker's The Kitchen. A firstattempt at collective creation, The Clowns (1969), was followedin 1970 by 1789, an epic retelling of the French revolutionas seen through the eyes of ordinary people. The play, which was createdthrough group improvisation backed by historical research, involvedactors playing multiple roles and the use of no less than five stages.1789 was followed by 1793 (1972), a similar work dealingwith the Terror. In 1972 the company was offered cheap premises inthe form of a disused munitions warehouse at a defunct army trainingground. At this new base the company presented another collaborativework, The Golden Age (1975) before disbanding a year later.Mnouchkine and some other members of the troupe subsequently madethe film Molière (1978), exploring the way in which his theater company managed to live and work together for so long.

    In 1979 the Théâtre du Soleil regrouped and stagedMephisto, Mnouchkine's adaptation of the Klaus Mann novel.Subsequent productions have included a number of Shakespearean playspresented using oriental staging conventions, The King of Cambodia(1983), a play about Prince Sihanouk by Hélène Cixous,and Les Atrides (1992), a cycle of Greek tragedies consisting of Euripides's Iphigenia in Aulis and Aeschylus's Oresteia trilogy.The Théâtre du Soleil is still run on a firmly egalitarianbasis; until quite recently Mnouchkine herself could sometimes be found collecting tickets on the door.

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