Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture

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Further reading

Hannagan, V. (1990) 'Reading as a Daughter: Chantal Chawaf Revisited', in M. Atack and P. Powrie (eds) Contemporary French Fiction by Women, Manchester: MUP (an account of Chawaf's explorations of the mother-daughter relation, and of its effect upon her writing practice).

Chéreau, Patrice

b. 1944, Lézigné

Director and actor

One of the most influential theatre directors in France today, as well as a well-respected film director, Chéreau's reputation for creation and innovation is influential enough to attract large audiences. Known for his perfectionist approach and his energy, in contemporary terms he is noted especially for his collaboration with popular playwright Bernard-Marie Koltès during the 1980s, whose work he championed, promoted and directed. His actor-director revival of Dans la solitude des champs de coton (In the Solitude of the Cotton Fields), in November 1995, was a sell-out success, partly due to the popularity of Chéreau's and Koltès's work.

Before 19.69, his directorial career, beginning at Sartrouville, saw him become noted for his Brechtian approach to stage, text and actors. A defender of the notion of the theatre as art and a lover of Italian theatre, he also worked for a short time at the Piccolò Theatre in Milan, until, in 1970, he began co-director with Planchon at the Théâtre National Populaire in Villeurbanne, forming a creative partnership with professionals such as Richard Peduzzi, with whom he still works today. His most famous production of this period, with Peduzzi, was his 1973 La Dispute by Marivaux, which critic Bernard Dort described as 'wild-cat Marivaux'. Alongside his theatre direction, Chéreau also directed a series of musical works, including Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann in 1974, a spectacular Wagner's Ring in 1976 and Alban Berg's Lulu in 1979.

By the late 1970s, he had also developed an interest in author Jean-Paul Wenzel, whose Loin d'Hagondange (Far from Hagondange) he directed in 1977. At around the turn of the decade, he also began making inroads into a new film career, which was to inspire (but also disappoint) him until his films L'Homme Blessé (The Injured Man), co-written with Hervé Guibert and released in 1983, and La Reine Margot in 1994.

In 1982, he directed an acclaimed production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, and became director of the Théâtre de Nanterre-Amandiers, where he set up a film and theatre school and promoted new writing, particularly the plays of Koltès. Between 1982 and 1988, Chéreau mounted four of his works, as well as acclaimed productions of Genet's The Screens (Les Paravents), German author Heiner Müller's Quartett, and a particularly praised Chekhov's Platonov in 1987. Following the death of Koltès, whom Chéreau had come to regard at the greatest playwright of his era, he left Nanterre to work independently, pursuing a career in cinema and theatre.


See also: cinema; theatre; Théâtre du Quotidien

Further reading

'Patrice Chéreau' (1986), Les Voies de la création théâtrale 14, Paris: CNRS (essential reading).

Chevalier, Maurice

b. 1888, Paris;

d. 1972, Paris

Singer and actor


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