Jean-Louis Barrault

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Jean-Louis Barrault
BirthplaceLe Vésinet, Yvelines, Île-de-France, France

Barrault, Jean-Louis

Barrault, Jean-Louis (zhäN-lwē bärōˈ), 1910–94, French actor and director. A pupil of Charles Dullin, he joined the Comédie Française in 1940. After World War II he organized his own company at the Théâtre Marigny with his wife, actress Madeleine Renaud. Barrault's precise, imaginative physical style was influenced by his study of mime. He is best remembered for his Hamlet and as the mime in Marcel Carné's film Children of Paradise (1944).


See his autobiography Memories for Tomorrow (tr. 1974). His other writings include Reflections on the Theatre (tr. 1951) and The Theatre of Jean-Louis Barrault (tr. 1961).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Barrault, Jean-Louis


Born Sept. 8, 1910, in Le Vés-inet, Seine-et-Oise Department. French actor and director.

Barrault studied painting at the Louvre School in Paris. In 1931 he entered the Atelier dramatic theater, which was headed by the director C. Dullin. At the same time Barrault studied the art of pantomime under the actor E. Decroux. From 1940 to 1946 he worked at the Comédie Française, where he staged Racine’s Phèdre (1952), Claudel’s The Satin Slipper (1943), and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1945). In 1946, Barrault and his wife, the actress M. Renaud, founded their own company and put on Shakespeare’s Hamlet (1946), Salacrou’s Nights of Anger (1946), Kafka’s The Trial (1947), and Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard (1954).

Barrault has played the roles of Debureau (in Prévert’s Baptiste), Mercury and Scapin (in Moliére’s Amphitryon and Scapin’s Knavery), and Trofimov (in The Cherry Orchard). From 1959 to 1968 he was the head of the Theatre de France (in Paris) and staged Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, Anouilh’s Moliere’s Little Woman, Beckett’s Happy Days, and others.

Barrault is one of the greatest contemporary French actors and directors. He is the author of Reflections on the Theater (1949). Since 1935 he has acted in films (The Children of Paradise, An Amusing Drama, and others).


Réflexions sur le theatre, Paris, 1949.


Salacrou, A. “Portrait de J.-L. Barrault.” Formes et couleurs, Lausanne, 1947, no. 5.
Triolet, E. “Zhan-Lui Barro.” Teatr, 1956, no. 4.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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