+French Theatre - Rare Books Exhibition
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French Theatre

Exhibition Catalogue
by Wallace Kirsop Associate Professor of French, Monash University

Exhibition Curators
Richard Overell, Rare Books Librarian and Lorraine David, Rare Books Assistant

We are most grateful to
The French Consulate General, Melbourne, Monash University Department of Romance Languages, Monash Student Theatre Group, and Malcolm’s Costume Hire, Abbottsford


In the favoured days of the 1960s, when money flowed to Australian universities, Monash started building a wide-ranging collection of French literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This corresponded to the research interests of a number of senior members of staff of the time. In due course, when a Rare Book collection was identified and segregated, the material brought together from the French classical period and Enlightenment was an important part of its nucleus. Opportunities to add to it have been fewer in more recent decades, but the area has not been forgotten. For good reasons the works of French dramatists have a certain prominence in what was sought, even if costly high-spots are missing.

Ideally, a theatre exhibition should go well beyond the texts of plays themselves. The buildings in which performances took place, the sort of staging provided, the reactions of spectators, the careers of famous actors, these are all essential in providing the context of the French theatrical tradition. To a limited extent this has been borne in mind in the present sample of what the Rare Book collection (with a little supplementation from outside) has to offer.


The wider curiosity is well to the fore in the Diderot-d’Alembert Encyclopédie, with its emphasis on technology and arts and crafts. Alongside articles on theatrical genres like tragedy there are discussions of and plates illustrating stage machinery and playhouse architecture. Theatre in France has always had an important social dimension, so it is hardly surprising that exotic aspects attracted attention in the Universal Exhibition of 1900.

Although French theatre did not suffer the same interruption as happened in England during the Commonwealth period, its history is not an altogether smooth one. Medieval traditions of mystery and morality plays performed by religious confraternities ended rather brutally on the eve of the late sixteenth-century Wars of Religion. In their place came closet drama imitated from classical antiquity, school plays for Jesuit colleges and, eventually, a vernacular tradition of farce, comedy and tragedy usually performed by itinerant troupes in makeshift halls (often the indoor courts for Royal tennis) across the country. Paradoxically, then, it was not until the middle of the seventeenth century that regular, settled companies appeared in Paris. Shakespeare had the dignity of a collected folio edition in 1623, forty years before Pierre Corneille. Similar comparisons could be made with Spanish Golden Age theatre. Nonetheless, once the classical theatre was fully installed, it reigned supreme until the 1820s. Even after that, new literary movements, beginning with Romanticism, measured their success by conquest of the official institutions, notably the Comédie Française, founded in 1680. Surviving buildings - in Paris and in the provinces - belong to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and not to earlier times.

The Monash collections reflect the Middle Ages and the Renaissance exclusively in modern reprints. One or two nineteenth-century editions represent the rediscovery that began almost two hundred years ago. For the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, on the other hand, we have a good sample of original editions of separate plays and of important contemporary and near-contemporary collections. A sign of strength is that, in addition to the great figures like Corneille, Molière, Racine and Beaumarchais, there is a wide spread of authors of the second and third rank in the conventional hierarchy. This is where our emphasis lies.

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which are so important in the experience of modern theatre-goers and opera-buffs, and even of student producers, tend to be found in the research and undergraduate sections of the Library. However, enough examples are present to remind visitors that French theatre is not a terra incognita for them.

To reinforce this notion we have included views of playgoing in France taken from guidebooks and travellers’ accounts. In Paris especially, going to the theatre was more or less a requirement for the more cultivated and leisured tourists of earlier ages. Their encounters with plays, playhouses and actors are not the least interesting facet of their books. This is a field in which Monash has been collecting actively and successfully in recent years.

As usual, in the glimpses of Monash’s French collections that have been arranged over the last decade, the work of Richard Overell and Lorraine David has been essential.

Associate Professor Wallace Kirsop
Romance Languages
Monash University

View View of Rare Books Exhibition Area

French Theatre
1. Diderot, Denis, 1713-1784.
Encyclopédie, or, Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers. / par M. Diderot ... & M. D'Alembert. (Paris : Chez Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand, 1751-1765) and Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication. (Paris : Chez Briasson, David, Le Breton, Durand, 1762-1772.) plates, 27 v.

Over the three decades that it took to complete the great Encyclopédie, edited essentially by Diderot, this compilation could not help reflecting changes in the Paris stage. The article on tragedy in the original series and the plates on stage machinery fit well into the classical tradition. Curiously, it was the same faithful contributor, Louis de Jaucourt (1704-1779), who wrote the text in the supplementary series that led into the illustrations of the Odéon, one of the first of Paris’s major modern theatre buildings.


2. Monmerqué, L. J. N. (ed.)

Théâtre français au moyen âge publié d’après les manuscrits de la bibliothèque du roi ...(XI-XIV siècles) (Paris, Didot, 1842)

After centuries of eclipse France’s medieval drama was revived and republished in the wake of the Romantic movement. Monmerqué’s collection was one of the earliest of these efforts.

View3. Le Sage, Alain René, 1668-1747.

Le théâtre de la Foire, ou, L'Opéra Comique... / Par Mrs. Le Sage & d'Orneval. (Paris : Chez Pierre Gandouin, 1724-37) 10 v.

*4. Théâtre des boulevards,

ou recueil de parades. (Mahon, Gilles Langlois, 1756) 3 vols.

In the eighteenth century a number of collections were made of the texts that served as ‘popular’ fairground and boulevard theatre. Le Sage was responsible for the more substantial of these. The 1756 volumes were allegedly put together by one Julien Corby, a shadowy figure on the fringes of Enlightenment and illicit publishing (a fact emphasized by the false address). In these books an improvised theatre that owed much to the Italian commedia dell’arte tradition is frozen into texts on the page.

*5. Blanchard-Boismarsas, C. O.

Itinéraire de l’ami des arts (Paris, Germain Mathiot, 1821)

The state support of theatre that began officially under Louis XIV continued through and beyond the Revolution and the First Empire. An inventory of and guide to the nation’s cultural resources in 1821 sets out the personnel of official theatres.

Seventeenth Century

The dramatists of the reign of Louis XIV from 1643 to 1715 are well represented in the Monash collection. They fall into three main groups : those, like Rotrou and Pierre Corneille, who were already active before the King’s birth in 1638 and during his minority, those, like Boursault, Thomas Corneille, Molière, Racine and Quinault, whose work was done in the Sun King’s middle years, and those, like Dancourt, Baron, Campistron, Danchet and Dufresny, whose reputation was made at the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth.

Most of the works exhibited are collected editions, in many cases posthumous. The very existence of such collections often determined relative scarcity of separate editions of individual plays. Rotrou’s Captifs is a rare example here of an édition originale. Other separate plays are mostly reprints or piracies. Of the collections that of Racine in 1697 and especially that of Corneille in 1682 were produced in the dramatist’s lifetime and therefore have textual authority. The Bret edition of Molière is a handsome testimony to his classic status a century after his death.

6. Dancourt, Florent Carton, 1661-1725.

La foire Saint Germain : comédie. / De Mr Dancourt. (Paris : Chez Thomas Guillain, 1696)

7. Rotrou, Jean, 1609-1650.

Les captifs, ou, Les esclaves : comédie / de Mr de Rotrou. (A Paris : Chez Antoine de Sommaville, 1440 [i.e. 1640])

8. Rotrou, Jean, 1609-1650.

Venceslas : tragicomédie / de Mr. de Rotrou. (Paris : chez Anthoine de Sommaville, 1655)

9. Baron, Michel Boyron, 1653-1729.

Le théâtre de Mr. Baron ... (Paris : aux dépens des associés, 1759) 3 v.

10. Boursault, M. (Edme), 1638-1701.

Théâtre de feu Monsieur Boursault. Nouv. éd., rev., corr. & augm. de plusieurs pièces qui n'ont point paru dans les précédentes. (Paris : Par la Compagnie des Libraires, 1746) 3 v.

11. Campistron, Jean Galbert de, 1656-1723.

Oeuvres de Monsieur de Campistron ... Nouv. éd., corr. & augmentée de plusieurs pièces qui ne se trouvent point dans les éditions précédentes. (Paris : par la Compagnie des Libraires. [La veuve de Pierre Gandouin. Huart & Moreau. Nyon fils. Bordelet Prault fils. Ganeau. Chaubert. Barrois Damonneville Durand. Grange. Robustel. Pissot. Brocas.], 1750) 3 v.

12. Corneille, Pierre, 1606-1684.

Le théâtre de P. Corneille. Revu & corrigé par l'autheur. (Paris : Chez Guillaume de Luyne, 1682) 4 v.

13. Corneille, Pierre, 1606-1684

Horace : tragédie. (Paris, 1692)

14. Corneille, Thomas, 1625-1709.

Les engagemens du hazard : comédie. / Par T. Corneille. ([S.l.] : Suivant la copie imprimée, à Paris, 1689)

15. Danchet, Antoine, 1671-1748.

Théâtre de M. Danchet ... (Paris : Chez Grange Robustel Le Loup, 1751) 4 v.

16. Dufresny, Charles Rivière, 1657-1724.

Oeuvres de Monsieur Rivière du Fresny. Nouv. éd., corr. & augm. (Paris : Chez Brisson, 1747) 4 v.
View17. Molière, 1622-1673.
Oeuvres de Molière : avec des remarques ... / par M. Bret. (Paris : Par la Compagnie des Libraires associés, 1773) 6 v.

18. Racine, Jean, 1639-1699.

Oeuvres de Racine. (Paris, Claude Barbin, 1697)

19. Racine, Jean, 1639-1699.

Oeuvres de Racine. Nouvelle éd, revue, corrigée & augmentée (Amsterdam : chez Henri Schelte, 1709) 2 vols.
View20. Racine, Jean, 1639-1699.
Athalie : tragédie ... (Paris : Chez Claude Barbin, 1692)

21. Quinault, Philippe, 1635-1688.

Le théâtre de Monsieur Quinault. Nouv. éd. (Paris : Par la Compagnie des Libraires, 1739) 5 v.

Eighteenth Century

The eighteenth century, from the beginning of the reign of Louis XV through to the Revolution, is also strongly represented at Monash. Once again collected works dominate, including the famous Kehl Voltaire produced outside France under the management of Beaumarchais. That writer is present in separate editions of two minor, earlier works. The only spectacular absence is Marivaux, whom many people would now recognize as the supreme dramatist of the period.

To underline the fact that theatre is a lot more than just printed texts, we have included a theoretical work by Grétry, well-known as an opera librettist, and two books by or about Clairon (1723-1803), one of the great theatre personalities of the time. The Monash collection is relatively poor in the extensive literature on actors and acting in France.

The extent of interest across Europe in French-language plays during the eighteenth century is best borne out by Robert Dawson’s estimate that there were 20,000 separate texts produced in a total of 200,000 editions!

22. Autreau, Jacques, 1657-1745.

Oeuvres de Monsieur Autreau. (Paris : Chez Briasson, 1749) 4 v.

23. Bailly, Jacques, 1701-1768.

Théâtres et oeuvres mêlées / par M. Bailly. (Paris : Chez Nyon, 1768) 2 v.

24. Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de, 1732-1799.

Eugénie : drame en cinq actes en prose, enrichi de figures en taille-douce : avec un essai sur le drame sérieux / par M. de Beaumarchais. (Paris : chez Merlin, 1767)

25. Beaumarchais, Pierre Augustin Caron de, 1732-1799.

Les deux amis, ou Le négociant de Lyon : drame en cinq actes en prose / par M. de Beaumarchais. (Paris : Chez la veuve Duchesne ... : Merlin ..., 1770)

26. Belloy, M. de (Pierre-Laurent Buyrette), 1727-1775.

Oeuvres complettes de M. de Belloy, de l'Académie Françoise, citoyen de Calais. (Paris : Chez Moutard, 1779) 6 v.

27. Boissy, M. de (Louis), 1694-1758.

Oeuvres de théâtre de Mr. de Boissy, de l'Académie françoise. Nouv. éd., corr. & augmentée. (Paris : Chez la Veuve Duchesne, 1766)

28. Chamfort, Sébastien-Roch-Nicolas, 1740?-1794.

Le marchand de Smyrne : comédie en un acte, et en prose / par M. de Champfort [i.e. Chamfort] ... (Paris : Chez Delalain ..., 1770).
View29. Colardeau, Charles Pierre, 1732-1776
Oeuvres de Colardeau ... (Paris : chez Ballard, Le Jay, 1779) 2 v., plates.

30. Crébillon, M. de (Prosper Jolyot), 1674-1762.

Les oeuvres de Monsieur de Crébillon. Nouv. éd. (Paris : chez Brocas fils, 1754) 3 v. ;

31. Diderot, Denis, 1713-1784.

Le père de famille : comédie ... / par Monsieur Diderot, avec un discours sur la poésie dramatique. (Amsterdam : [s.n.], 1767)
View32. Fagan, 1702-1755.
Théâtre de M. Fagan, et autres oeuvres du mesme auteur. (Paris : chez N. B. Duchesne, 1760)

33. Favart, M. (Charles-Simon), 1710-1792.

Théâtre de M. Favart, ou recueil des comédies, parodies & opéra-comiques qu’il a donnés jusqu’ à ce jour, avec les airs, rondes & vaudevilles notés dans chaque pièce. (Paris, Duchesne, 1763) 10 vols.

34. Voltaire, 1694-1778.

Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire. [Kehl, Germany] : De l'imprimerie de la Société Littéraire- Typographique, 1784-1789) 70 v. [125] leaves of plates ; 22 cm. (8vo)

35. Grétry, André-Ernest-Modeste, 1741-1813.

Mémoires, ou, Essai sur la musique / par M. Grétry. (Paris : chez l'auteur ..., Prault ... ; Liège : F.J. Desoer, 1789)
View36. Clairon, Mlle., 1723-1803.
Mémoires d' Hyppolite Clairon : et réflexions sur la déclamation théâtrale : Publiés par elle-même. Seconde éd., rev., corr., et augm. (Paris : chez F. Buisson, An VII de la République [1799])

37. Goncourt, Edmond de, 1822-1896.

Mademoiselle Clairon, d'après ses correspondances et les rapports de police du temps. Deuxième mille. (Paris, G. Charpentier 1890)

Nineteenth Century

The Monash holdings of nineteenth-century dramatists are mostly in the form of standard modern editions of Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset and others. However, the Rare Book collection does have a number of recueils factices (nonce collections) grouping the many minor works that fed a voracious group of theatres in Paris and in the provinces. There were also - as booktrade speculations - contemporary multi-volume anthologies of such works. For the modern reader, many of these texts are best known as the bases of libretti of operas by composers like Verdi and Puccini.


38. Le Quaker et la danseuse, comédie-vaudeville

en un acte, par MM. Scribe et Paul Duport. Représentée pour la première fois, sur le Théâtre du Gymnase Dramatique, le 28 mars 1834.

First in a bound volume of plays.

39. Le Charlatanisme, comédie-vaudeville

en un acte, par MM. Scribe et Mazères; représentée pour la première fois à Paris, sur le théâtre de Madame, par les Comédiens ordinaires de son Altesse Royale, le 10 mai 1825. 2e éd. (Patris, Pollet, 1825)

First in an octavo volume of plays with spine title "Pièces de Théâtre"

40. Répertoire du Théâtre de Madame.

Les matéteaux, par MM. Scribe, Varner et Dupin (Paris, Baudouin frères, et al, 1828)

First in a volume of 16mo plays with spine title "Pièces de Théâtre"

41. Théâtre des auteurs du second ordre (Paris, 1808)

[multi-volume set]

View42. Les Français peints par eux-mêmes : encyclopédie
morale du dix-neuvième siècle. (Paris : L. Curmer, 1841-42) 9 v. : Originally issued in parts, 1839-42.

Nineteenth-century French literature is rich in works that describe ‘characters’ or ‘types’ in texts that involve the collaboration of noted writers and illustrators. Such books were often originally issued in parts. Naturally, the theatre does not escape the scrutiny of these observers.

Secondary Works

43. Dictionnaire universel du théâtre en France

et du théâtre français à l’étranger, par J. Goizet. (Paris, 1871) [Manuscript]

The first two parts of Goizet’s Dictionnaire universel were published in Paris in 1867. The author, who seems otherwise to be unknown, had earlier issued other material towards a theatrical bibliography. The manuscript exhibited is a supplement to the 1867 publication.

The nineteenth century saw the appearance of a vast literature devoted to all sorts of aspects of the theatre. Second Empire Paris needed a guide to its rich theatrical life. Later, under the third Republic, wealthy amateurs could subscribe to the Almanach des spectacles, acquire Bouchard’s glossary of theatre terms and, if they were customers of the fashionable Grands Magasins du Louvre, be given a diary that included the seating plans of major theatres.

*44. Guide dans les Théâtres

(Paris, Paulin et le Chevalier, 1855)

45. Almanach des spectacles.

Editor: Albert Soubies. (Paris, : Librairie des bibliophiles, 1874-1913)

46. Bouchard, Alfred.

La langue théâtrale : vocabulaire historique, descriptif et anecdotique des termes et des choses du théâtre, suivi d'un appendice, contenant la législation théâtrale en vigueur / par Alfred Bouchard. (Paris : Arnaud et Labat, 1878)

*47. Louvre-Agenda contenant une foule de renseignements utiles 1884.

Critical writing about the theatre and a concern for its history and origins were already visible in the second half of the eighteenth century. The dramatist Cailhava and the great bibliophile La Vallière both contributed to this effort.

48. Cailhava, M. de (Jean Francois), 1731-1813.

De l'art de la comédie, ou, Détail raisonné des diverses parties de la comédie et de ses différents genres : suivi d'un traite de l'imitation ou l'on compare à leurs originaux les imitations de Molière & celles des modernes / par M. de Cailhava. (Paris : Chez Fr. Amb. Didot aine, 1772) 4 v.
View49. La Vallière, Louis César de La Baume Le Blanc,
duc de, 1708-1780.
Bibliothèque du théâtre françois depuis son origine : contenant un extrait de tous les ouvrages composés pour ce théâtre, depuis les mystères jusqu'aux pièces de Pierre Corneille, une liste chronologique de celles composées depuis cette dernière époque jusqu' à présent, avec deux tables alphabétiques, l'une des auteurs & l'autre des pièces. ( Dresden: Chez Michel Groëll, 1768) 3 v.

50. L’Exposition de Paris (1900) (Paris, Montgrédien, 1900) 3 vols. folio.

The splendid souvenir catalogue of the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900 is a recent acquisition of Monash University Library. Although theatre is far from prominent in its three volumes, it is not absent, as in the centrefold given over to Victor Hugo’s works, or in photographs of exotic performers brought in for the various national pavilions.

51. La Grange, Charles Varlet, sieur de, 1639 (ca.)-1692.

Extraict des receptes et des affaires de la Comédie depuis Pasques de l'année 1659 apartenant au Sr De La Grange. [Genève, Minkoff Reprints, 1972]

La Grange’s Registre - here shown in facsimile - is one of the most important sources of its kind for the seventeenth century, since it shows the business activity of what was originally Molière’s troupe from 1659 to 1685, by which time it had become the Comédie Française and received royal patronage.

Travel Accounts

One of the strongest resources being built up in the Monash collection is travel to Continental Europe through the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The theatre was a natural destination for almost all cultivated travellers of former times, so it is not surprising to find at the very least brief records of performances attended or actors met. The sample exhibited includes guide books, but more especially, narratives by some relatively obscure persons as well as voyagers of note (or more or less temporary residents) like Martin Lister, Hester Lynch Piozzi (who, as MrsThrale had already visited Paris before, in 1775 with Samuel Johnson), Arthur Young, Frances Trollope, Lady Morgan, Lady Blessington and George Augustus Sala. All of this bears witness to the prestige of French theatre, even if comparisons are sometimes made with London.

52. Lister, Martin

An Account of Paris at the close of the seventeenth century, by Martin Lister, now revised ... by George Henning (Shaftesbury, J. Rutter, [n.d])

53. Lucas, William, d. 1773.

A five weeks tour to Paris, Versailles, Marli, &c. : shewing the different charge attending one, two, or four persons through this tour, and the most reasonable and pleasurable method of performing it : with an accurate description of Paris and the neighbouring palaces, gardens, water-works, paintings, &c. ... 2nd ed., corr. and enl. (London : printed for T. Waller, 1752)

54. Piozzi, Hester Lynch, 1741-1821.

Observations and reflections made in the course of a journey through France, Italy, and Germany / by Hester Lynch Piozzi. (London : Printed for A. Strahan, and T. Cadell, 1789) 2 v.

55. Stearns, Samuel, 1747-1819.

Dr. Stearns's Tour from London to Paris : containing a description of the kingdom of France ... after which is delineated a new constitution, with a description of the road to liberty. (London : Printed and sold by J. Parsons, 1790)

56. Young, Arthur, 1741-1820.

Travels, during the years 1787, 1788, & 1789 : undertaken more particularly with a view of ascertaining the cultivation, wealth, resources, and national prosperity of the kingdom of France / By Arthur Young. Second edition. (London : Printed for W. Richardson, Royal-Exchange, 1794) 2 v.

57. Two sketches of France, Belgium, and Spa,

in two tours during the summers of 1771 and 1816; with a portrait of Napoleon’s guide at Waterloo, by the author of "Letters from Paris, in 1802-3" (London, Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 1817)

58. Carey, David, 1782-1824.

Life in Paris : comprising the rambles, sprees, and amours, of Dick Wildfire, of Corinthian celebrity, and his bang-up companions, Squire Jenkins and Captain O'Shuffleton : with the whimsical adventures of the Halibut family, including sketches of a variety of other eccentric characters in the French metropolis / by David Carey ; ... with twenty-one coloured plates... by George Cruikshank. (London : Printed for John Fairburn, 1822)

59. Trollope, Frances Milton, (1780-1863)

Paris and the Parisians in 1835. 2nd ed. (London : Richard Bentley, 1836) 2 v.

60. Great Exhibition : guide for strangers visiting Paris.

(Paris : Garnier, 1855)

61. Morgan, Lady Sydney, (1783-1859)

France in 1829-30 (London, Saunders and Ottley, 1830) 2 vols.

62. Blessington, Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of, 1789-1849.

The idler in France. (London : Colburn, 1841) 2 v.

63. Sala, George Augustus, 1828-1895.

Paris herself again in 1878-9 / by George Augustus Sala; with four hundred illustrations by Bertall ... [et al.]. (London : Remington and Co., 1879) 2 v. : ill. ; 23 cm.

Twentieth Century

Twentieth-century French theatre has continued to have a considerable vogue outside Francophone countries. A few examples are shown of some of the authors most familiar to Australian readers and audiences. From the Symbolist inheritance represented by Claudel (in a copy of l’Annonce faite à Marie that once belonged to Dorothea Mackellar) through Existentialism to the Absurdists of more recent decades, one sees a succession of writers who went quickly into the mainstream and into translation. Australians will have seen several of these works not only in church halls and student venues, but also in regular theatres. Beckett and Ionesco, not untypically in post-1945 France, belonged to an influential and talented group of immigrants who chose to write and be performed in French. It also goes almost without saying that a whole exhibition could be devoted to twentieth-century French theatre in its immense variety and even - on a smaller scale - to its impact on Australia in this century.

64. Claudel, Paul, (1868-1955)

L'annonce faite à Marie : mystère en quatre actes et un prologue. 6e éd. (Paris : Nouvelle Revue Française, 1913)

65. Giraudoux, Jean, (1882-1944)

Intermezzo, comédie en trois actes. (Paris : B. Grasset, 1933)

66. Giraudoux, Jean, (1882-1944)

Fin de Siegfried. (Paris : B. Grasset, 1934)

67. Montherlant, Henry de, (1896-1972)

Fils de personne, ou, Plus que le sang ; suivi de Un incompris. (Paris : Gallimard, 1944)

68. Anouilh, Jean, (1910-1987)

Pièces brillantes : L'invitation au château, Colombe, La répétition ou L'amour puni {et} Cécile, ou L'école des pères. (Paris : La Table ronde, 1951)

69. Sartre, Jean-Paul, (1905-1980).

Les mains sales : pièce en sept tableaux. (Paris : Gallimard, 1948)

70. Ionesco, Eugène, (1912-1994)

Rhinocéros : pièce en trois actes et quatre tableaux. (Paris : Gallimard, 1959)

71. Ionesco, Eugène, (1912-1994)

Théâtre (Paris : Gallimard, 1954) 3 vols.

72. Camus, Albert, (1913-1960)

Le malentendu : pièce en trois actes ; Caligula : pièce en quatre actes. (Paris : Gallimard, 1947)

73. Beckett, Samuel, (1906-1989)

En attendant Godot. (Paris : Editions de minuit, 1952)

French Theatre at Monash

74. Gamas, Citizen.
The first "Australian" play : Les émigrés aux terres australes (1792) / by Citizen Gamas ; edited and translated by Patricia Clancy. (Clayton, Vic. : Dept. of English, Monash University, 1984)
This edition features a French-English parallel text with the French text being a facsimile of "Les émigrés aux terres australes", published in Paris by Citizeness Toubon, in 1794.

75. Becque, Henri, 1837-1899.

Parisian lady : a comedy in three acts = La Parisienne / Henri Becque ; a new translation by Dennis Davison. ([Clayton, Vic.] : English Dept., Monash University, 1977)

76. Scribe, Eugene, 1791-1861.

Independence : a comedy in three acts (1837) / Eugene Scribe ; translated from the French by Dennis Davison.:([Clayton, Vic.] : Monash University English Dept., 1981)

While the late Dennis Davison was at Monash in the English Department, he was very active in promoting the translation and publication of French plays for performance by his own theatre troupe centred in the department. Here we see a selection of these, including the translation of the first play written about Australia, Les émigrés aux terres australes, ou le dernier chapitre d’une grande révolution This was written and performed in 1792, during the French Revolution, and concerns a group of aristocrats and priests of the ancien régime who have been transported to Australia and are forced to come to terms with their sins against the common man. One interesting feature is the depiction of Oziambo, the local aboriginal chief as a "noble savage".

Other French plays have been performed at Monash, including Cocteau’s Les Parents terribles, and a selection of scenes from Molière’s Le Médecin malgré lui.

French Theatre in Melbourne

For over a century the Alliance Française de Melbourne, founded in 1890, and the Melbourne French Theatre Group, formed in 1977, have been active in bringing French dramatic works, especially comic plays, to Melbourne audiences. These are made up largely of French-language students, French-speaking expatriates, and lovers of theatre in general. A highlight for theatre-goers in 1988 was the very memorable performance by actors from the Comédie Française at the Victorian State Theatre of Molière’s Le bougeois gentilhomme. This featured an English translation in surtitles projected overhead on a screen above the stage. The visit of the Comédie Française was a gift from the French government to the Australian people as part of our Bicentennial celebrations.