The Ranelagh Theatre, after several decades, is still an active venue for the theatre and the arts in the heart of France. It is located close to the Ranelagh Garden in the 16th arrondissement in Paris at no.5 rue des Vignes.
The Theatre’s History
The history of Ranelagh Theatre begins with a farmer-general under the rule of Louis the XV named Alexandre Jean Joseph The Rich of La Pouplinière. In 1755, he built a theatre at the far end of his castle’s driveway at the Boulainvilliers estate, previously called Castle of Passy during the 14th century. Alexandre, acting as an enlightened patron of the arts, surrounded himself with a circle of artists and intellectuals such as Quentin de La Tour, Voltaire, Van Loo, Rameau, and many more. Unfortunately, Alexandre’s castle and theatre were devastated after the French Revolution and an invasion by the English.
Louis Mors, a famous car manufacturer and music enthusiast created a new theatre in 1894 at the site of the previous music salon La Pouplinière. Alban Chambon was the artist behind the new theatre which boasted of being a neo-renaissance carved oak musical salon. During its inauguration on April 25, 1900, Camille Chevillard, the previous director in charge of the Lamoreux Orchestra performed France Wagner’s Gold Rhine along with 80 other orchestra performers. Come the 20th century in 1931, and the theatre became a hall transformed for cinema and the arts which was frequented by celebrities such as Gérard Philipe. For twenty years, the theatre was directed by Madona Bouglione who developed innovative music programs that combined elements of theatre, music, and circus.
The Theatre at Present
After more than a century, stepping into Ranelagh Theatre amid its grand auditorium will leave you in awe of its beautifully decorated ceilings and orchestra and balconies that are adorned with ornate oak paneling. Because of the wonderfully preserved structure of the Théâtre Ranelagh, it has been listed as a historical monument since October 6, 1977. The theatre is conveniently located between famous landmarks in Paris such as the Eiffel tower on one side and the Bois de Boulogne on the other. After the death of Louis Mors, his estate was destroyed to eventually make way for the development of Paris as a city. The theatre was miraculously saved, even its modest exterior that hides the grandeur within. The theatre is designed following the French style with its red velvet seats facing the stage, and the whole auditorium is in the shape of a rectangle. At present, the theatre also houses a small bar in its foyer which could comfortably seat 80 people for drinks before or after a performance.
For the Ranelagh Theatre’s line-up in May, the company has prepared a series of performances as a tribute to Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, more popularly known by his pen name Molière, a French actor, poet and playwright. Some of his notable plays would be presented within the month. The first of which is Don Juan, which tells of a man’s dishonorable quests to romance young noble girls and maidservants to the horror of his valet. The second is The Bourgeois Gentleman which stars the character of Mr. Jordan and his desire to climb the ranks of society. Last is The Doctor Despite Himself, a comedic series of misunderstandings centered on the main character Sganarelle, a drunken and jovial woodcutter.