It’s not every day that Paris gains a theatre – after two and a half years of complete renovation, the Théâtre du Châtelet – property of the paris city council – is reborn with a crazy weekend based around a show called Parade, followed by the triumphant return of An American in Paris and a whole lot more…
Parade was originally a show created by the Châtelet Theatre in 1917! For the 2019 version, every part of the venue will be used to show off a side of the crazy world of Erik Satie (on Friday starting 6.30pm, and Saturday/Sunday from 1.30-6.30pm).
In the hall there are flying clowns, in the foyer a big pile of pianos, in the Juliette Gréco salon something called, “le dîner en blanc”, in the Diaghilev salon, “the absinthe room”, in the Nijinski salon you can see the Black Cat Cabaret, on the Nijinsky terrace there the clown caravan, and the kitchens will also be full of clowns!
The festivities also overflow outside the theatre – on the square in front of Hôtel de Ville there are puppet shows, circus workshops and another workshop called “Create your own cubist costume” (Friday from 4pm and Saturday/Sunday from 11am-6pm).
The costume creation workshop is also on offer at the Picasso Museum on Saturday 14th September from 11.30am-2pm.
And on the square just in front of the theatre, you can hear Vexations by Erik Satie, a ‘musical marathon’ for piano, on Saturday from 9am-6pm (with a 1h break at 1pm).
All these events are free. Only the actual theatre 1h15min show in the main auditorium has to be booked (tickets here start at 10€).
If you do book a show at the theatre after visiting it in years past, you’ll hardly recognise the place:
— The paint and gold leaf of the Grande Salle des balcons and et de la cupola have been restored to their former glory
— The glass ceiling now has its original backlighting
— The allegorical statues representing Dance, Drama, Comedy and Music have been put back in place on the Nijinsky terrace
— The foyer’s paint, wallpaper and parquet floor have been restored to their original state, and the oculi have been opened in order to let in natural light
— The whole theatre is now accessible to wheelchair users, and twenty wheelchair spaces have been created in the auditorium
— Some old spotlights have been replaced, freeing up space for 51 new seat in the lower amphitheatre
— Additional ladies toilets have been added to cut down waiting times during intermissions
— And backstage there’s a new, quicker, quieter scene-shifting apparatus, the two rehearsal studios have been completely renovated, security has been improved, all the technical side is now compliant with the latest norms, all the lead and asbestos in the building has been removed…
If you can’t get down this weekend, the theatre will also be open for Open House weekend (les Journées du Patrimoine) on 21st & 22nd September 2019 from 10am-6pm. You’ll be lent a free audioguide in English to accompany your visit.
That same weekend the Paris Historical Library (here) will also be showing a selection of historical documents relating to the theatre’s history: manuscripts, programs, photos, drawings, plans, scenery and costume models, posters…