Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Paris Theater: Hôtel de Bourgogne

Scene from Cyrano
Theater and swashbuckling go together. Who can forget Cyrano's duel set to rhyme or Scaramouche's duel that begins with him on stage in mask and costume?

After the Duel
In my H+I campaign I intentionally include a few anachronisms. One such is the map of a well known theater. The Hôtel de Bourgogne dates from 1548, but I haven't found a good map of the original layout. The one I have found, which is pretty nice, dates from 1647, the time of Moliere. But what's 20 years give-or-take? The nice part about using this location is the existence of maps, drawings, and engravings showing the theater in action.

Check this out. It has 4 chandeliers!

The theater plan is from this nice little article in French.

The religious fraternity called the Confrérie de la Passion (or Confraternity of the Passion) built the Bourgogne theatre in the year 1548 in order to have a place in which to produce religious drama. Unfortunately for them, in the same year, the French king banned the production of religious plays in Paris. In exchange for the inconvenience of being unable to use their theatre for the purpose for which it was designed, the king granted them a monopoly on the production of French language drama within the city.

By the end of the sixteenth century, the group had stopped producing their own work in favor of renting out their theatre to travelling companies. All troupes playing in Paris during this time were required to either rent the Bourgogne theatre from the Confraternity, or else pay them for the right to produce elsewhere.

The Comédiens du Roi of Valleran Le Conte and Adrien Talmy arrived in 1599. Because of frequent money problems, Valleran's group could only appear intermittently at the Hôtel de Bourgogne and often toured the provinces. They were particularly associated with the works of Alexandre Hardy. The actor Bellerose joined Valleran's troupe in 1610, but subsequently (1619, 1620) also appeared with other groups in the provinces. The actor Gros-Guillaume joined Valleran in 1610, and became his co-director in 1612. Subsequently Gros-Guillaume became the sole director. From 1615 he worked closely with the actors Gautier-Garguille and Turlupin (also called Belleville). The trio were the preeminent farceurs on the Paris stage until about 1633. From about 1622 Bellerose returned and became an important member of the troupe, succeeding Gros-Guillaume as director upon the latter's death in 1634. Bellerose continued in that position until 1647.

From about 1622 to 1629 the theatre was shared with a rival troupe patronized by the Prince of Orange. Among its members was the tragedian Montdory. Montdory had previously appeared with Valleran's company in 1612 and would later join with Charles Lenoir in 1634 to found the Théâtre du Marais. The appearances of the Prince of Orange's troupe at the Bourgogne produced conflicts with the Comédiens du Roi, and the latter sometimes resorted to playing outside the theatre, blocking the public from entering to see their competitors. 

These theater conflicts and rivalries would provide some unusual hooks for adventure. The PCs could be hired by one troop or the other or might just be fanatical fans of one of the troops. Either way they could assist a troupe trying to block competitors or clear rivals from the path of their own troupe. Well known actors and accomplished playwrights could be the focus of PCs as either bodyguards or kidnappers.

The Hôtel de Bourgogne was located a few blocks north of the Les Halles market and west of the Church of St. Eustache.

Tomorrow's post will provide a small troupe of players called Binet's Theater Troupe to use in an H+I campaign.


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