Firmin Gémier

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gémier, Firmin


(real surname, Tonnerre). Born Feb. 21, 1869, in Aubervilliers, near Paris; died Nov. 26, 1933, in Paris. French actor, director, and theatrical figure.

Gémier, the son of an innkeeper, studied in a private dramatic studio and began his stage career in 1888. He first appeared in Parisian theaters in 1892. He performed in St. Petersburg at the Mikhailovskii Theater in 1904. Gémier headed the Antoine Theater from 1906 to 1921, and the National People’s Theater, which he founded, from 1921 to 1933. The development of Gémier’s aesthetic views was greatly influenced by the guidance of A. Antoine. Gémier believed that the social purpose of the theater was to serve the people. He fought against routine and sought new forms of theatrical expression. He strove to combine striking theatricalism with verisimilitude and was particularly concerned with the performance of the individual actor.

Gémier staged ideologically significant works from contemporary drama and world classics. His best roles included Ubu in Jarry’s King Ubu, Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, and Philippe Bridau in Fabre’s The Vamp (based on Balzac). Gémier demonstrated a masterly acting technique and was an expert makeup artist. Beginning in 1908 he directed and appeared in films. Gémier was also involved in public work.


Teatr: Besedy, sobrannye P. Gzellem. Moscow, 1958. (Translated from French.)


Blanchart, P. Firmin Gémier. Paris [1954].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(4) Heir to Charles Dullin (1885-1949) and Firmin Gemier (1869-1933), the fathers of democratic theater in France, Vilar himself discovered theater through a Shakespeare history play, as he attended rehearsals of a Richard III directed by Dullin in 1933.
Firmin Gemier had already argued that after World War I had gathered all social classes in the trenches, performing in Italian playhouses, in which the vertical distribution of the audience mirrors the social hierarchy, was no longer relevant.
Firmin Gemier, Maurice Pottecher, Andre Antoine, and Romain Rolland, among other directors dissatisfied with the near monopoly of private theaters that serve up expensive and formulaic divertissement to the Parisian bourgeoisie, seek to liberate theater from the Italianate stages of the Paris boulevard: there orchestra pits distance the stage from the red velvet seats of well-heeled spectators for whom the more important spectacle, the mondain, unfolds in the house, in the loges, or over refreshments during intermission.