Jean Varela, director of Printemps des Comédiens, reads a text on Molière, Wednesday 18 May in Pierresvives. He offers his vision of the one whose 400th anniversary is celebrated this year.
Jean Varela, present the reading show “Les Nuits de Molière” on Wednesday 18 May at 2.30 pm in Pierresvives. What do these nights hide?
The idea of this reading is to collect Molière! It is the idea of a bibliophile who spends his nights searching and comparing old editions of Molière and everything that has been written about Molière, that is, all studies in all languages. He does a job of filling the holes in his library shelves. It is the madness of collecting, an invasive mania, almost a passion for bibliophilia.
How did you choose the songs you will read?
It is a text by Jean-Pierre Rose, which does not necessarily include extracts from comedies by Molière, but which speaks of the various editions that mark the bibliographic history of Molière, starting from the first edition of 1682, the complete edition, edited by La Grange, companion of Molière, up to the contemporary editions of the 19th century. It is a tribute to all these fanatical people, absorbed by the passion of the old book, of the document. Especially since, as far as Molière is concerned, everything has disappeared. It adds to the mystery. There are no handwritten documents from Molière, no letters from him, all has been lost. Except for two receipts which are kept in the departmental archives of the Hérault in Pierresvives. They were discovered in the 19th century by the department’s chief archivist.
Are you going to highlight the Molière who have passed through the region?
There are few references to this passage and in particular the memoirs of the abbot de Cosnac who admirably tells how Molière’s company was almost overtaken by another company, that of Cormier, when the prince of Conti wanted to give the theater to the his mistress, Madame de Calvimont. The abbot of Cosnac ended up having Molière’s troupe act at the Pézenas theater.
Can we still learn about Molière?
I advise everyone to go rummage in the attics of their ancestors, as there may be the famous chest containing Molière’s manuscripts, as not so long ago we found a Caravaggio in Toulouse. There may be some wonderful secrets and never-before-seen pieces to uncover.
“Molière at the donkey fountain in Gignac, Molière eating hot oysters in Mèze …”
As a man of the theater, what did Molière bring you?
A lot of joy, even energy. Because what’s great in this life of Molière is the whole journey. When you open the 18th century dictionary of the Martinière, under the heading “Molière”, you write first: famous comedian. He is someone who has definitely advanced the art of acting. He is an extraordinary foreman. He is someone who invents what is still the substratum of theatrical life in France, that is, the relationship with power, with politics. He is a wonderful communication man who will use all the cabals against him to make the people of the theater talk about him, to fill the halls. He is someone who will become an extraordinary businessman. He is a crew leader, author, actor, man of influence, man of communication. He invented the global theater profession. He is magnificent.
Was it almost inevitable to start the Printemps des Comédiens with the “Tartuffe” of the Comédie Française?
These are the 400 years of Molière. The first edition of the 1987 Spring of Comedians was dedicated to him. Looking through the archives of Printemps, I found a catalog of programs that had been published at that time. The mayors of the cities of Hérault had signed a text, telling an anecdote of Molière in their city. There is the anecdote of Molière at the donkey fountain in Gignac, Molière eating hot oysters in Mèze, Molière creating Contempt of love in Béziers, Molière dancing in the Ballet des Incompatibilis of Montpellier. I think that this partly true, partly false 19th century memory allowed Gérard Saumade to put forward the idea of creating a theater festival at the Domaine d’O.