After a long absence from theatre, Chéreau decided to stage Phèdre, Racine’s greatest tragedy, in the cavernous space of Les Ateliers Berthier in Paris, a former warehouse. The vast space the actors have to negotiate only heightens the intensity of their interpretation, the violence of the characters’ emotions echoing through the void as they run, scream, and hurl themselves to the ground. Among Chéreau’s numerous innovations for this production, his approach to the notoriously difficult alexandrine are particularly admirable. He freed the alexandrine from its corset, giving Racine’s verses a new lease on life and in the process, handing Dominique Blanc, who first stepped out on stage under his direction 33 years ago, her greatest theatre role.
See also En Scène! a theatre series in French
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