Théâtre de la foire

Parisian market theater, a range of entertainment events in Paris since the 17th century, which included theatrical parodies, puppetry, acrobatics, pantomime, vaudeville, and later the Opéra comique called ( cf. folk theater ).

These events had their fruit are in season and local center at the fairs of Saint- Germain, Saint- Laurent and Saint- Ovide later. They were the source of all continental European theater forms that did not go out of the court theaters, but by the entrepreneurship of the Third Estate. This meaning has to do with the audience volume: Paris as the largest European city in the 18th century already exceeded the limit of 500,000 inhabitants, while Vienna, the largest city in the German-speaking countries, in 1790 counted only 200,000 inhabitants.

Market theater have always been a symbol of the individual ( and private ) resistance against the established, led by the noble theater in the city and of the court, who fought against their competition.

Saint- Germain

The fair is first recorded in 1176 and was held around the Abbey of Saint -Germain -des- Prés. He usually took three to five weeks around Easter. Since the 18th century it was open from February 3 until Palm Sunday. It textiles and crockery better quality were sold, but no weapons or books. There was the year the market until 1789, when he went to the French Revolution in the possession of the city. In 1818 he was re-opened as an urban market. The fair there again since its revival in 1978.

The first known comedians who produced this year on the market, were Jean and Nicolas Courtin Poteau, which in 1595 filed a lawsuit against the troops of the Hôtel de Bourgogne won, which insisted on their privilege. A similar success was in 1618 André Soliel and Isabel Le Gendre. Later, puppeteer, tightrope walkers, acrobats and animal trainers soil showed at the fair. 1696 were built, each with about 100 seats four small theater.

After 1700 there was a literarisation, a politicization of the fairground theater. More and more operas and theater pieces have been played, the mocked -known courtly theater events. Writers such as Alain Lesage or Louis Fuzelier enrolled for the market theater.

Saint -Laurent

The Fair Saint -Laurent existed since 1344 in the Enclos Saint -Laurent between the homonymous church and today's East Railway Station ( Gare de l' Est). In the 18th century it was held from 9 August to 29 September.

The Fair Saint -Laurent was a meeting place for artisans, traders and civil customers in the open air, during the year covered market Saint- Germain served rather than shopping for luxury goods such as jewelry or porcelain.

Many artists and troupes of the carnival Saint- Germain also occurred here because of a fairground in the spring and the other was held in the summer. When enlarged the theater, theater productions of Saint- Germain were resumed in Saint- Laurent.

Saint- Ovide

The Fair Saint- Ovide was held since 1764 on the Place Louis XIV (now Place Vendôme ) and in 1772 on the Place Louis XV (now the Place de la Concorde ) shifted. Despite the small dimension, he was an important competition of Saint- Laurent, who at the same time took place about (about August 15 to September 15 ).

1777 shacks were destroyed by fire.


The artistic performances of the 17th century were increasingly small comedies and thus a market for talented writers and composers. Since the expulsion of the Italian comedians from Paris in 1697 by Louis XIV new French theater forms emerged. The professionalization of fair spectacle disturbed even the Comédie- Française, which began to see a dangerous competition in them. Due to various processes that led them against the fair comedians, she reached in 1707 the famous prohibition of " pièces dialoguées " at the fairs, a general prohibition (French ) Stages dialogs, which spawned the silent pantomime.

From the skill with which this prohibition was circumvented, created new forms of theater, such as pieces that consisted entirely of monologues. Later gibberish was invented (!: Pendons le médecin: Pendão le medicinao " we hang the doctor " ), so as not to injure the sole claim of the Comédie Française, the French language. Finally intermediate texts were also shown by means of signs and paper rolls. To circumvent the ban singing on stage, the audience was encouraged to sing. The Parisian police commissioner Ményer describes this as follows 1718:

In this way, the Comédie Française, could not proceed against successful productions. The Paris Opera in contrast, had been in the whole kingdom of France perform the sole right, singing and ballet performances, and therefore had to seek no bans. The directors of the opera, but they tried to improve their income by at the fairs they sold theater company the right to musical spectaculars. Thus arose in 1714, the genre of opéra comique.

However, with the growing success of the fair productions increased the Opera and the royalties and brought the free businessman in trouble. This in turn took the Comédie- Française, by 1719 a general prohibition performance reached at the fairs, with the exception of puppetry and tightrope walking.

In 1716, after the death of the Sun King, who had expelled the Italians, the Regent Philippe II, the later the Théâtre-Italien had founded the Comédie Italienne -, : She played from 1721 to 1723 without any significant success at the fair of Saint- Laurent.

The merchant Maurice Honoré 1724 could acquire the right to re- opera performances. In him was followed by other licensees. The most important representative of the fairground theater Charles Simon Favart evaluated the Opéra Comique on by his poetic and business achievements, so that she could be the first civic theater genre originally in the royal Théâtre-Italien finding their way in 1762.

The genre of opera parody, which was built on the fairgrounds, was far beyond the French borders influence, as well as on the Viennese popular theater. Favart wife Marie Duronceray about was in her famous parody of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Le Devin du village Les Amours entitled de Bastien et Bastienne ( 1753), the gentle country girl with realistic wooden shoes and dialect. The importance of a serious opera could be adjusted according to how many times it has been parodied at the fairs.

In addition to the theater and opera performances, there were at the fairs and circus-like performances, show positions of abnormalities in curiosity cabinets, traveling menageries, etc. Since the end of the 18th century, the events shifted more and more into the venues of the Parisian boulevards, mainly on the Boulevard du Temple.