“When it was decided that I would stage The Misanthrope, I asked myself: why stage the classics? Why is it so important to me? I think that the person who best, and very succinctly, answered this question is Antoine Vitez: “because it is essential to work on social memory”. For Molière, 1665 – the year when The Misanthrope was written – is a year of betrayal: that of Racine, who gave his tragedy Alexander the Great to the troupe of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, after the failure of its first production by Molière’s troupe at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Can one detect autobiographical resonances in Alceste’s black humour, who, to hate one person, decides to hate the whole world? Clément Hervieu-Léger, a pensionnaire at the Comédie-Française who this season is staging Marivaux’s Le Petit-Maître Corrigé, explores the temperament of the “cantankerous lover”, his struggle against the weariness of self and loneliness.
The eight characters that make up this social microcosm are placed in an open space, outside a mansion that is being renovated, instead of in the cosy setting of a salon. The set is a moving space, a metaphor for what, according to the director, the repertoire should be: “evolving, completely of its century but nourished by previous centuries and already turning to the coming century. I belong to a repertory theatre, and I think that if we do not approach the works from a fresh perspective, then this repertory theatre has no reason to exist.”