From the Pit
Jouvet, Berard, and ANTA
Louis Jouvet's ANTA-sponsored tour, which touched Boston briefly last week, has pointed out several things to the playgoer. It has given him a good idea of the production standards of Jouvet's Theatre de L'Athence in Paris, and the magnificent style of Jouvet's acting. It has also demonstrated the value and energy of ANTA--The American National Theatre and Academy.
As a production, Jouvet's "L'Ecole des Fommes" is extraordinarily rich. Playing Arnolphe in Molicre's great comedy, Jouvet acts with amazing precision, clarity, and style. His performance and those of the entire company are the results of a complete knowledge of the play, gained from years of experience. The outstanding characteristic of the entire production, which Jouvet directed, is its "style." This tenuous quality, perhaps roughly equivalent to "finesse," is evident in every movement on the stage and in every word.
For a country that knows only realistic scenery, the late Christian Berard's setting is a revelation. He gives us no representation of a 17th-century town house, down to the last door-knob. Instead, Berard has found the essence of the play and put it on the stage in simple physical terms. The process is more than an intellectual or emotional one; it is also richly imaginative. This exceptionally rich and sure imagination is what distinguishes Berard's work.
ANTA, the organization responsible for the tour of this play, is chartered by the Congress of the United States under Public Law 199. Its purpose is the "sponsorship and implementation of various types of theatre activity" in this country. Congress gave ANTA everything but an appropriation. The officers of ANTA, including Helen Hayes, Cheryl Crawford, and Vinton Freedley '14, have managed by means of private fund-raising, to make the group more than a name. A series of fine revivals on Broadway this year, including "Twentieth Century," has given ANTA needed publicity. Jouvet's tour, which has reached four American and Canadian cities, broadens ANTA's scope and prestige even more.