Collections and services

Performing arts

Stage and street, costumes and masks, mime and puppetry...

Theater: writings, stage production, and broadcasting

Printed and handwritten texts, books and journals

Handwritten manuscript by Eugène Labiche, "La Station Champbaudet", 1862, performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris

Handwritten manuscript by Eugène Labiche, "La Station Champbaudet", 1862, performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, Paris

Printed French and foreign plays, from the beginnings of the form to the present day and in French or their original languages, can be found at the François Mitterrand Library (Site François-Mitterrand), the Richelieu Library (Site Richelieu), and the Arsenal Library (Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal).
Also available are materials on drama and production (texts by actors and directors, manuals, etc.), theater architecture, sets and costumes, writing for theater... and, more generally, the full range of French and foreign books and journals on theater. Authors’ manuscripts (by Beaumarchais, Victor Hugo, Paul Claudel, Jean Giraudoux, Samuel Beckett, etc.), copies of parts, and handwritten letters by key personalities are held at the Richelieu Library in the Manuscripts and Performing Arts departments, as well as at the Arsenal Library.
The Manuscripts department also owns a large number of anonymous copies of 18th century French plays, as well as extensive collections of Eastern theater (Chinese, Japanese and Yiddish).
See also

Alzire, ou les Américains. Voltaire, 1736. Epître dédicatoire à Madame Du Châtelet
Fonds Georges Douay
Importante collection dédiée à l'art dramatique rassemblée par le compositeur Georges Douay à la fin du XIXe siècle

On performance

Program for "Le Missionnaire" illustrated by Toulouse-Lautrec, Théâtre Libre, 1893

Program for "Le Missionnaire" illustrated by Toulouse-Lautrec, Théâtre Libre, 1893

BnF, and in particular the Performing Arts Department, holds very extensive collections of archives and correspondence from people and institutions in the world of theater
  • actors, e.g. Antoine, E. Feuillère, S. Monfort, etc.
  • directors, e.g. E.G. Craig, J. Copeau, L. Jouvet, A. Vitez, J.-L. Barrault, etc. 
  • authors, e.g. S. Guitry and M. Achard 
  • set designers, e.g. S. Delaunay and J. Le Marquet 
  • companies, theaters and festivals, e.g. the Festival d’Automne, the Théâtre national de Chaillot, the Théâtre national populaire à Villeurbanne and the Théâtre des quartiers d’Ivry
The collections held at the Richelieu Library are a particularly rich source of graphic materials on drama and the world of theater. They include the following:
  • posters
  • portrayals of sets, 
  • costumes, and theaters illustrations of theatrical texts 
  • hand-drawn, engraved, and photographic portraits 
  • original mock-ups of sets and costumes 
  • photographs of performances
The Performing Arts Department is in the unique position of holding the full range of documentation on the subject of stage performance
  • direction and production notes, stage plans, etc. 
  • programs, leaflets, and press reviews of performances from more than a thousand organizations (theaters, festivals, companies, etc.) in permanent contact with the department 
  • files of press cuttings on performances and personalities, put together by the department 
  • stage costumes and accessories 
  • paintings and sculptures
The Maison Jean Vilar in Avignon holds collections on Jean Vilar at the Théâtre National Populaire de Chaillot in Paris from 1951 to 1963 and at the Festival d’Avignon from 1947 to 1971: archives, photos, posters, programs, costumes, and mock-ups of costumes
Since it opened in 1979, the Maison Jean Vilar has acquired a general collection on theater and shows. It also brings together components of the collective memory of the contemporary festival

Filmed plays published on videotape or DVD can be viewed at the François Mitterrand Library, as well as at the Performing Arts department for DVDs and digitized videos.

Audiovisual materials also include interviews with directors and actors and film adaptations of plays.

Thursday, December 15, 2016