Comédie Française (kōmādēˈ fräNsĕzˈ) [key] or Théâtre Français tāäˈtrə fräNsāˈ, state theater of France. Also known as La Maison de Molière, it was officially established by Louis XIV in 1680. His decree merged the two French companies of actors at Paris, the troupe of the Hôtel Guénégaud (see Molière and Béjart) and the troupe of the Hôtel de Bourgogne. The following year an annual grant was allotted from the royal treasury, and a new theater was built for the company. The Comédie Française has had several homes since its inception and currently is housed on the Rue de Richelieu in a theater that was rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1900. This theater was extensively renovated in 1994 and reopened in 1995. Except for a period (1792–1803) after the commencement of the French Revolution, the company has performed without significant interruption; it was reorganized and reopened (1803) under Napoleon I. Having as its mission the preservation of the heritage of French drama, the repertory is largely traditional, though modern works by French dramatists and foreign playwrights are also performed. In accord with a charter signed by Napoleon in 1812 and modified several times since, the company is organized collectively with all the permanent members, called sociétaires, or associates, sharing in the management of the company, while the actor who has served the longest functions as the head, or doyen.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.