Featured Playhouses

The Hôtel de Bourgogne was Paris's first public playhouse, constructed in 1548 by the Confraternité de la Passion for the production of religious dramas. For most of the seventeenth century it was used by the King's company of actors for the production of public plays, particularly for tragedies. During the 1630s it was the home of décor simultané staging. In the latter part of the century it was used by Paris's most-noted Italian troupe. The Théâtre du Marais became Paris's second public theatre in 1634 when a French troupe of actors converted it from a tennis court into a theatre. These actors worked there until 1644, when much of it was destroyed by fire. Undeterred, they rebuilt it with many improvements and continued to play there, particularly in spectacular "machine plays," until 1673.
Built in 1641, the Palais Cardinal theatre was the first purpose-built proscenium theatre in Paris. Constructed as a private court theatre inside Cardinal Richelieu's grand Parisian home, it was left to the French royal family when the Cardinal died in 1642, thus becoming the Palais Royal theatre. The Palais Royal theatre was used on several occasions by the French royal family for command performances of spectacular operas, but in 1660 the King granted its use to Molière and his troupe. After converting the theatre for public use, the troupe played there very successfully for over twelve years.
Another converted tennis court, the Hôtel du Guénégaud was the theatre Molière's troupe used after his death in 1673. At this point, the king ordered that the remaining members of this troupe be amalgamated with the actors who formerly worked at the Théâtre du Marais. In 1680, the two remaining French-speaking dramatic troupes in Paris were united to form the a single, state-sponsored company. Nine years later, they moved from the Guénégaud theatre to the first Comédie Française (also known as the Théâtre Français), which was yet another converted tennis court.