AFP, published on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at 1:40 p.m.
400 years and not a wrinkle: Molière’s anniversary year starts on Saturday in France, but also in other countries, to celebrate the best known and most popular of French playwrights.
Baptized on January 15, 1622 (he would have been born a day or two earlier), Molière, whose real name is Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, is such an emblematic author that actor Francis Huster has been fighting for years for him to enter the Pantheon.
An idea recently defended by LR presidential candidate Valérie Pécresse, who described the 17th century playwright as “the greatest genius of French theater”. But the Elysée has ruled out such a possibility, estimating in a press release sent to AFP that all the pantheonized figures “are after the Enlightenment and the Revolution”.
The celebrations will take place in particular in the high places which marked his career as a troupe director and playwright, but especially in his “house”, the Comédie-Française, born seven years after his death in the continuity of his troupe.
The troupe will play plays by Molières exclusively until July, starting on Saturday with “Tartuffe ou l’Hyprocrite”, the original and censored version of the famous play on the false devotee.
And like every January 15, a tribute will be paid to him at the Frenchman: a bust of Molière is solemnly placed on stage, the entire troupe gathered salutes him and everyone recites a line from his plays.
This ceremony, preceded by Tartuffe, will be broadcast live in cinemas, where “Le Malade imaginaire”, “L’Avare” and “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” will be broadcast in the coming months.
– “It is everywhere in the air” –
“I have a relationship with him as a comrade,” Dominique Blanc, one of the most admired actresses in the troupe, told AFP.
The French, located near the Palais-Royal and the Louvre, “is anchored in the district where he lived and where he died, he is everywhere in the air”, she smiles.
The actor Denis Podalydès affirms him not to be “superstitious” as for the presence of the spirit of Molière in the house. “He sleeps in the books until we play him (and there, there is something very lively”.
At Versailles, where Molière had King Louis XIV as his protector and in front of whom he created some of his emblematic pieces, several will be taken up in their original form: the “comedies-ballets”, created in complicity with the composer Lully.
In the city, which organizes “Le Mois Molière” every summer, a statue signed by the artist Xavier Veilhan will be erected in May and an exhibition, “Molière, the factory of national glory” will open its doors from Saturday.
Another statue will be unveiled on Saturday, this time in Pézenas (Hérault) between Béziers and Montpellier, where Molière stayed several times at the start of his career. The historic center will be punctuated by excerpts from his comedies or evocations of his life and a Molière stamp will be on sale in preview.
At the National Center for Stage Costume in Moulins (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), the exhibition “Molière in costumes” is expected at the end of May and will run until the beginning of November. Other exhibitions are planned for September by the BNF at the Comédie-Française and the Paris Opera (“Molière en musiques”).
Many conferences will be devoted to him in France and around the world, from the Sorbonne in Paris to the American University of Yale, via the Università degli Studi di Torino (Turin) or even Florence, according to the dedicated site moliere2022.org
Activities and plays are also planned in Belgium, Switzerland, and even in the American city of Kansas City.
And in edition, an “Atlas Molière”, bringing together 150 maps and computer graphics on the life, work and times of Molière was published on Friday.