Classic and modern French plays

Are you a theatre enthusiast? There are thousands of excellent French plays, some are old as time itself and others are only a few years old and already have a cult-like status. If you’re interested in going to the theatre but you’d like to see a French play so you can also practice your language skills at the same time, here is a list of 8 of the some of the best and most famous French plays you can go see.

Theatre is one of the seven arts. It used to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment but once cinema and television exploded, the theatre was outshined and took a backseat. But, there is something to be said for going to the theatre. You dress up, going out to eat before or after, maybe even have a cocktail, and you get to enjoy live theatre. Of course, not everyone can afford to go to the theatre every few weeks or months but there are ways of saving on tickets or you can save up and see this activity as a way for you to broaden your artistic horizons.

1Les Belles-soeurs (Michel Tremblay)

Michel Tremblay is known as the father of Quebec theatre. Les Belles-Soeurs was his first professional play and is still to his day his most famous one. If you’re interested in knowing or understanding more about French Canadian culture, this is the play to see. The play is mostly spoken in joual, a working-class dialect frowned upon by the upper class. Not only that but Tremblay also put forth women instead of men and showed these women doing working-class things. The story is about a housewife named Germaine who invites all the women from her neighbourhood to stick the 100 grocery stamps she won into a booklet so she can exchange them for goods. While all the women discuss their husbands and their lives, Germaine does not realize the other women were stealing all her stamps.

2Le Tartuffe (Molière)

Molière is one of the greatest playwrights of all time. His ability to make people laugh or cry and his emblematic place in the world of theatre is why you should absolutely see at least one of his plays. We highly suggest you see Tartuffe because it is a comedic play you’ll have a lot of fun seeing. This five-act play was written in the 17th century but it is still current to this day. The story depicts a man named Orgon and his mother who fall under the influence of a pious man named Tartuffe. The rest of the family see’s that Tartuffe is a fraud and try to convince Orgon and his mother but they fall perfectly in his trap and Organ even allows Tartuffe to marry his daughter. After robbing them of their house and possessions, Tartuffe is finally arrested and charged for his numerous crimes.

3Les Bonnes (Jean Genet)

Les Bonnes by French dramatist Jean Genet is a great example of a new classic of theatre. The play was first shown in 1947 and is said to be a loose adaptation of the infamous French maid sisters Christine and Léa Papin who murdered their employer’s wife and her daughter in 1933 by beating them to death with a knife, a hammer and a pewter pot. Genet was inspired by this horrific story and wrote his play about two maids that who did elaborate sadomasochistic rituals when they were alone in the house they worked in. Their sexual role-playing consisted of killing their employer and they took turns so each woman could be the murderer and the murdered. Unlike the real-life events, they don’t murder the woman in the end.