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Language,  Life in Paris & France,  Theater

French Theatre in Paris & English Surtitles

Theatre in Paris_LogoHave you ever wanted to go to the theatre in Paris, but thought it would be hard to understand? Understanding French is now secondary to enjoying the theatre. Theatre in Paris is “opening the doors to French theatre” with surtitles to enjoy some top-rated shows in iconic Parisian theatres.

Read the surtitles from a balcony seat in a prime location, watch the actors simultaneously and then impress your friends with your experience. You have attended a potentially unknown Paris tourist attraction in French culture. Surtitles are above the stage on a screen barely visible or invisible to the audience below.

IRMA LA DOUCE de Alexandre Breffort, mise en scene de Nicolas Briancon au theatre De La Porte Saint Martin a partir du 15 septembre 2015. Avec: Lorant Deutsch, Marie-Julie Baup, Nicole Croisille, Andy Cocq, Olivier Claverie, Fabrice de la Villeherve, Jacques Fontanel, Valentin Fruitier, Laurent Paolini, Claire Perot, Bryan Polach, Pierre Reggiani, Loris Verrecchia, Philippe Vieux. (photo by Pascal Victor/ArtComArt)
Irma la Douce de Alexandre Breffort- theatre De La Porte Saint Martin (photo: Pascal Victor_ArtComArt)

Your level of French does not matter. I went with a friend whose French knowledge level is on a scale of one to five (being the highest). Her impressions were: “Any level of French would be fine for comprehension, plus hearing the French and reading the English helps with learning new words. I think it is a great concept for promoting the French language & culture. I enjoyed the experience!” Et Voilà!

Colleen’s tip: If your ticket says 6:30 pm for a 7 pm show, be there 6:30 pm.

Joanne and Jackie from Theatre in Paris Francis Perrin's Molière malgré moi at Theatre de la Gaite MontparnasseWhat I liked: The hostess, Jackie (currently on a theatre art studies internship from Boston University), met us at the front of the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Montparnasse (opened in 1868). Jackie gave us our programs with the seat number written on the front page. She escorted us to our plush, royal red seats and gave us a brief explanation about the theatre, the play and how the surtitles work. The earlier arrival time on the e-ticket leaves room for questions and answers and any photos before the program begins.

Even if you understand French and can follow along, nuances in the language or vocabulary could throw you off. If the script screen goes black, the actor is ad-libbing. The trained translator is coordinating/synchronizing the written script with the actor’s voice and movements. If you are a native or feel like a native English speaker, you can speed read the surtitles and move your eyes easily to the stage.Poster for Francis Perrin Molière malgré moi at Theatre de la Gaite Montparnasse

Another positive point is cultural. Molière (a.k.a. Jean-Baptiste Poquelin) … how often have I ever finished one of his plays? Hmmmm… I started two. I saw the movie about his life. But this show brought the famous author to life. I speak very good French, but the surtitles helped me appreciate so much more …. This is fifteen years in the life of a legend: “the women he loved, the friends he valued and the enemies he loathed…”. His encounters with Louis XIV from the first meeting until Molière’s demise in the famous arm chair. Molière’s original chair is the Comédie Française).

What I didn’t like: Could not think of anything not to like.

audience and surtitles for play The Lie Theatre in ParisWhat I would like to try next: A musical or play with multiple people on a stage. The excellent show we saw (“Molière in Spite of Myself” Molière malgré moi) is a one-man show.

This one man, Francis Perrin, belongs to the society of the Comédie Française. In 2016 is celebrating fifty years on stage (thank you Télématin, the morning breakfast show, for that interview with Francis Perrin). While standing out front after the show, Mr. Perrin walked out the front door and stopped to chat amiably when I reached out my hand.

Students under 26 have a special rate on selected plays. Otherwise, the ticket prices for Theatre in Paris range includes the surtitle benefit, seat location and type of play (three classifications: Classics, Comedies and Musicals). Booking through Theatre in Paris site guarantees the surtitle seats.

Read about one of the founders of Theatre in Paris, Carl de Poncins, in The Local (France’s news in English).

This Web site and and its blog articles are for travelers to Paris who are looking for advice from someone who lives in Paris. These tips are "for Parisians at heart". Many people would like to visit, some can and some cannot - so I will help you enjoy a glimpse of the city and its surroundings. This project has been ongoing since 2002. Prior to living in Paris (since 1992) my European history began in the early 70s with three years in Wiesbaden, Germany. My next foray onto the Continent was in the mid-80s after graduation from the University of Florida (where I met Erik): traveling around Europe and UK with my friend, Margie, hitchhiking around and working in Ireland. After living and working as a journalist in Sweden for four years, traveling on boats, the Trans-Siberian Railway, local trains and planes took Erik and I around the world. I began working as a flight attendant in 1990 for American Airlines, based in Chicago. We moved to Paris, France in 1992 where I commuted between Paris and Chicago for my flight attendant/stewardess job. Finally my inner voice said "Stop!" and I left American Airlines six weeks shy of 20 years January 1, 2010. Now that is over and I am back working as a journalist and photographer full time on - My videos are posted on YouTube on the colleensparis youtube channel. and I am active in Toastmasters 75. Enjoy!