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Born Jan. 31, 1858, in Limoges; died Oct. 9, 1943, in Pouligneu. French director, actor, and theoretician of the theater.
While working as a clerk in the gas company in Paris, Antoine became involved with an amateur theatrical group (the so-called Cercle Gaulois), which he made his nucleus in organizing the Théâtre Libre in 1887. He worked in the Théâtre Libre until 1894. In 1897 he created the Théâtre Antoine, which he managed until 1906. From 1906 to 1914 he was the director at the Odéon theater. After 1914 he retired from practical work in the theater and worked in the areas of dramatic criticism and film.
In creating the Théâtre Libre, Antoine made a stand against melodrama and philistine dramaturgy. He was an ardent proponent and propagandist for the aesthetic principles of E. Zola. Antoine believed that theater should depict life faithfully, and he staged plays in which the action involved peasants, petite bourgeoisie, and workers. It was to his credit that he also disseminated progressive foreign dramaturgy. He was the first in France to present The Power of Darkness (1888) by L. Tolstoy, Ghosts (1890) and The Wild Duck (1891) by Ibsen, The Boarder (1890) by Turgenev, The Weavers (1893) by Hauptmann, and others. Antoine obtained natural, unadorned performances from his actors; he fought for permanent status for members in the troupe and for a close-knit ensemble of actors. His presentations were distinguished by natural staging, bold for the time. Every personage in the work was endowed with an individual character and given a definite stage task. He employed diverse theatrical devices to help create a lifelike atmosphere on stage.
Antoine’s memoirs of the Théâtre Libre, Théâtre Antoine, and Odéon are valuable documents for the history of the French theater of the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they contain statements of his views on theatrical art and dramaturgy. In 1897, Antoine toured Europe, including Russia (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa), with a group of artists of the Théâtre Libre.
WORKSMes Souvenirs sur le Théâtre Libre. Paris, 1921.
Mes Souvenirs sur le Théâtre Antoine et sur l’Odéon. Paris, 1928.
In Russian translation:
Dnevniki direktora teatra. General editor, A. A. Gvozdev. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939. (Abridged.)
REFERENCESMovshenson, A. “Vstup. stat’ia.” A. Antoine. Dnevniki direktora teatra. (Abridged translation from French.) Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Gvozdev, A. A. Zapadnoevropeiskii teatr na rubezhe XIX i XX stoletii: Ocherki. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Kovatchévitch, M. La Vie, I’oeuvre, I’influence et le prestige de André Antoine.... Clermont-Ferrand-Paris, 1941.