The Parisian Stage during the Occupation, 1940-1944: A Theatre of Resistance?

Boothroyd, Edward (2009). The Parisian Stage during the Occupation, 1940-1944: A Theatre of Resistance? University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This study aims to establish whether the performance or reception of a ‘theatre of resistance’ was possible amid the abundant and popular literary theatre seen during the Occupation of France (1940-1944). Playwrights and critics have made bold claims for five plays that allegedly conveyed hostility towards the occupier or somehow encouraged the French Resistance movement. These premieres will be scrutinised by examining the plays’ scripts, the circumstances surrounding their composition, the acquisition of a performance visa, public reactions and critics’ interpretations from before and after the Liberation of August 1944. I intend to demonstrate that the extreme circumstances of war-torn Paris were largely responsible for the classification of these complex works and their authors as either pro-Resistance or pro-Collaboration, a binary opposition I will challenge. While it is understandable that certain lines or themes took on special relevance, writers would not risk attracting the attention of the German or Vichy authorities. Mythical or historical subject material was (deliberately) far removed from the situation of 1940s audiences, yet was presented in the form of ‘new’ tragedies that resonated with their preoccupations. Individual testimony confirms that certain plays provided a morale boost by reaffirming hope in the future of France.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures


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