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Paris : Châtelet Theatre reopens after over two years at a cost of € 31,5 million

In January 2017, the theatre was pronounced a fire and safety risk.

Théâtre du Châtelet first opened in 1862 on the Right bank of the Seine. It was conceived by Gabriel Davioud under architect Baron Haussmann who was ordered by Napoléon III to transform the French capital during the Second Empire.

13 Septembre 2019 - 00:00

Théâtre du Châtelet ©pressetheatreduchatelet
Théâtre du Châtelet ©pressetheatreduchatelet

British artistic director Ruth Mackenzie had just been appointed in January 2017 to take charge with co-director Thomas Lauriot dit Prévost when the theatre was pronounced a fire and safety risk.

They were officially appointed by the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo and her director of cultural affairs, Christophe Girard at the same time the safety research study was completed and approved. The decision was made to close the theatre for the necessary up-grading. Official work permission was granted in January 2017 and actual work began in March 2017 stretching to September 2019.

Philippe Pumain is the architect in charge of the complete refurbishment of the theatre. His aim was to guarantee the fine balance between technical renovation which respects the original patrimony of 1862, all the while looking to the future with ecological changes including improved facilities for wheelchairs and others who are less mobile. Fire escapes were subject to strict scrutiny for example. Most of the costs were underwritten by the industrial group Accor under Sébastian Bazin.

Workers are still scrambling to put the finishing touches to the huge construction, including ensuring that the roof will be water-proof, but Mackenzie and Lauriot dit Prévost are incredibly positive that everything will work out in the end. Including the fact that tickets to the openings will be sold out and personal security guaranteed for the paying visitors.

Giant Mozambique puppets, together with the band from Parade, at an earlier presentation in March 2019, all participants will march from Hôtel de Ville to the theatre on Friday next ©Thomas Amouroux, Théâtre du Châtelet
Giant Mozambique puppets, together with the band from Parade, at an earlier presentation in March 2019, all participants will march from Hôtel de Ville to the theatre on Friday next ©Thomas Amouroux, Théâtre du Châtelet

Inaugrating the newly renovated theater with a street parade from Hotel de Ville Square between the 13th and 15th September

Mackenzie and Lauriot dit Prévost were inspired by Parade, the ballet of the same name created by Erik Satie in 1917, based on a poem by Jean Cocteau, with scenery by Pablo Picasso which was staged at the Châtelet by the legendary Ballets Russes under Serge Diaghilev.

Here the giant puppets from Mozambique (actually assembled near Paris) and the musical band plus performers will lead the parade from the Hôtel de Ville Square, to the theatre where an extraoridinary acrobatic show will be staged with 200 performers and 2,000 people in the audience.

The two theatre directors are determined to continue the cultural innovation of the theatre into what Lauriot dit Prévost likes to call a more activist theatre, open to less well-known French or international artists. The two also intend to lure more people into the theatre, with a scheme for less expensive tickets for the younger set. Mackenzie even changed some names of the theatre foyers to include female performers such as Josephine Baker and Juliette Greco. Vitality and dynamism seem to be assured in the future of the theatre.

Open to the general public on Saturday 21 September between 10h and 18h during the Les Journées du Patrimoine from 21 September until 22 September

Besides the theatre itself being open to the public on Saturday 21 September, there will also be an exhibition, within the framework of the Journées européenes du Patrimoine mentioned above, echoing the reopening of Châtelet theatre at the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris.

The Library will exceptionally display a selection of documents pertaining to the patriomonial heritage surrounding the history of theatre with manuscripts, programmes, photos, drawings, plans and scale models of decor et costumes, posters and the like.

Bibliothéque historique de la Ville de Paris, 24 rue Pavée, 75004 Paris, open from 10h until 18h, free of charge.

Théâtre du Châtelet
1 Place du Châtelet – 75001 Paris
métro – Châtelet
RER – Châtelet-Les Halles
Bus – 21,38,47, 58,67,70,72,74,75,76,85,96
Prix en fonction du spectacle
CB /Visa Eurocard/Mastercard Diners Club
Chèque vacances.

Other article about Théâtre du Châtelet with another journalistic angle but in French :
Réouverture du Théâtre Impérial du Châtelet avant les Journées Européennes du Patrimoine.

Kunang Helmi-Picard
Fatma Kunang Helmi was born in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. Education in Switzerland, Australia and... En savoir plus sur cet auteur

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