Antoine, André

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Antoine, André

(äNdrā` äNtwän`), 1858–1943, French theatrical director, manager, and critic. In opposition to the teachings of the Paris Conservatory, he formed (1887) his own company, the Théâtre LibreThéâtre Libre
, French theatrical company founded in Paris in 1887 by André Antoine. Inspired by the work of the Meiningen Players, Antoine's theater became a showcase for naturalist drama.
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. There he presented, by private subscriptions, foremost works of the naturalistic school. He emphasized an intimate style of acting and a realistic use of space and tried to eliminate grand posturing. Financial failure forced him to relinquish the theater (1894). In 1897 he founded the Théâtre Antoine, where he continued the tradition of his Théâtre Libre for 10 years. He was director (1906–14) of the Odéon in Paris and after World War I became a respected drama critic.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Antoine, André


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.


Mes 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.)


Movshenson, 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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to Andre-Paul Antoine, Andre Antoines son, in the course of seven years of his direction at the Odeon, Antoine was engaged in exploring different major works of foreign theater, including the Chinese and Japanese theaters.
and Bar salon, Claude Jutra's Mon oncle Antoine, Andre Forcier's Au clair de la lune and many others).