Fayard, Nicole Books

Dr. Nicole Fayard is Lecturer in French at the University of Leicester. Her research focuses on 20th century and contemporary French theatre. In particular, she has published articles on Shakespeare in France and on the work of Georges Lavaudant, Daniel Mesguich and Stéphane Braunschweig. More recent research has taken her into the field of contemporary French women writers. Dr. Fayard has also published on the methodology of language teaching.

Performance of Shakespeare in France Since the Second World War
2006 0-7734-5891-3
Much has been written on Shakespeare’s global, overarching influence on 20th century theatre. In France, the transformations of the stage in the 20th century have been accompanied by increased interest in his plays. In sharp contrast with the reviling of Shakespeare’s “foreignness” in previous decades, by the late 1940s French academics and directors began to speak of a “need” for his theatre. Theatre practitioners and critics continue today to regard him as a leading figure on the French stage and have ensured that his theatre has continued to thrive. However, despite reaching unprecedented heights by the end of the century, the sheer scale of the vogue for Shakespeare and the reasons behind his success in France today had not been thoroughly addressed. This book provides a comprehensive survey and critical evaluation of Shakespearian production in France from the 1960s to the end of the twentieth century. Through a study of the specifics of a large number of productions, the work theorises the strategies used by each new wave of directors to influence the Shakespearian repertoire and generate new appropriations of Shakespeare’s theatre, from critical interpretations of his plays in the light of the theories of Bertolt Brecht and Jan Kott in the 1960s and the iconoclastic radicalisations of the 1970s to the self-referential post-modern “theatre of images” of the 1980s and 1990s and the playful and radical appropriations of the young directors of the 1990s. In a final section, the book moves beyond essentialist categories to replace the directors’ expressions of admiration for Shakespeare in the wider French cultural discourse. Interpreting the evidence in the light of theories of cultural materialism, the study suggests that Shakespearian production has been maintained by belief in the mythical status of Shakespeare. Imposing new visions of his theatre has enabled directors to redefine the field of Shakespearian production, explaining the paradox that Shakespearian production both remains constant and is continually transformed.

This original study makes a significant contribution to the study of Shakespeare’s place in France, surveying forty years of changes and innovations in Shakespearian theatre production. It also opens up a new area of debate within the established field of Shakespearian studies, relocating it in the arena of cultural politics in France. It would be of particular interest to scholars in the following areas: Shakespeare studies in France; theatre studies; history of 20th century French theatre; history of 20th century French cultural policy; semiotics; literary theory; the work of Georges Lavaudant, Daniel Mesguich and Stéphane Braunschweig; Shakespeare and cultural materialism. The book contains a valuable database recording new Shakespearian productions in France between 1960 and 1997.