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Armand Gatti and political trends in French theater under de Gaulle (1958-1978)

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Armand Gatti and political trends in French theater under de Gaulle (1958-1978)
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Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1982.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 207-213).
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Vita.
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by Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski.

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ARMAND GATTI AND POLITICAL TRENDS IN FRENCH
THEATER UNDER DE GAULLE (1958-1978)






BY

BONNIE LAURIE PYTLINSKI


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA .


1982


































Copyright 1982

By

Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski










To my husband

Jerzy Teodor Pytlinski













ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The guidance, advice and foresight of Dr. Raymond Gay-Crosier of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures in the orientation of the subject presented were of paramount importance and made this dissertation possible. The interest and thoughtful remarks of Dr. Wayne Connor of the same Department and of Dr. Otto Johnston of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures were of great assistance throughout the writing process. Finally, the review of the dissertation by Dr. Hal Rennert of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures is greatly appreciated.














TABLE OF CONTENTS


CHAPTER PAGE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . iv ABSTRACT . vii INTRODUCTION . 1

I BRECHT: THE LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND GERMAN
THEATER IN THE 1920s-1930s AND FRENCH THEATER
IN THE 1960s . 7

II BRECHT IN FRANCE . 23
Brecht versus Theater of the Absurd . 28 Shakespeare and Brecht as Models . 36 Brecht and the Actor . 42 III POLITICAL THOUGHT . 46
Cultural Revolution . 46 The New Left . 53 Class Struggle, Structure, Ideology . 60

IV POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ACTION IN FRANCE
UNDER DE GAULLE . 77
De Gaulle . 77
Political Parties and Groups in France
1958-1968 . 80 Malraux and Gaullist Cultural Policies. 88 Cultural Action . 90

V POPULAR THEATER . 96
Theater Decentralization . 96 Peripheral Theaters . 101 Theater Activities During May 1968 . 109 VI ARMAND GATTI: FRENCH PLAYWRIGHT OF THE
1960s . I . 113









VII 1962-1966: LA VIE IMAGINAIRE DE L'EBOUEUR
AUGUSTE G. AND CHANT PUBLIC DEVANT DEUX
CHAISES ELECTRIQUES . 122 VIII 1966-1968: V COMME VIETNAM AND LES TREIZE
SOLEILS DE LA RUE SAINT-BLAISE . 156

IX POPULAR THEATER AFTER MAY 1968 . 189

BIBLIOGRAPHY . 210 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . 214















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy




ARMAND GATTI AND POLITICAL TRENDS IN FRENCH
THEATER UNDER DE GAULLE (1958-1978) By

Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski

December 1982

Chairman: Dr. Raymond Gay-Crosier Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures

The playwright Armand Gatti was an innovator in the

French theater during the period 1958-1968. In this study four of his plays produced in the 1960s are discussed: La Vie imaginaire de l'6boueur Auguste G., Chant public devant deux chaises 6lectriques, V comme Vietnam, and Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise. These four major plays illustrate a theater which sought to be more responsive to events and problems in French society. They are studied within the framework of developments in popular theater, the influence of Brecht, the emergence of a new left and other political groups, and Gaullist cultural policies.

It is shown that the ideas of the Marxist philosophers Henri Lefebvre (the possibilities of the individual, urban


vii








revolution, a critique of bourgeois society) and those of Louis Aithusser (class struggle, cultural revolution, and nondialectic history) appear transposed as themes in Gatti's plays. Examples of Gatti's techniques of "distancing" by interruptions in the structural organization of the text are interpreted to provide, as in the case of Brecht, a means of encouraging the spectator to participate in the play by critically judging what is presented. Through the discussion of Brecht and the new left a connection is made between the political and literary trends in Germany and Russia in the 1920s-1930s and the political trends-in French theater of the 1960s. The impact of political ideas on the themes of Gatti's plays is used to elucidate the controversy which arose concerning the interaction of culture and politics, and the role of intellectuals and ideologies.

The conclusion describes what occurred in the French popular theater in the 1970s. With his increased emphasis on actor and spectator participation, Gatti is shown to be one of the most radical practitioners of the current return to a more spontaneous, political theatricality.














INTRODUCTION


From de Gaulle's establishment of the Fifth Republic in September 1958 to the demonstrations of May 1968, political and literary thought in France stimulated experiments in the theater. The subject matter chosen for plays, the form in which they were written, and the techniques and. devices used in staging them were affected. The theater became a political issue during this period because of the unusual interaction between politics, literature, and theater. Attention was turned toward the voter, the reader, and the spectator.

The decade began with the organization of a "popular" theater in Villeurbanne, the working-class suburb of Lyon, by the theater director Roger Planchon. By the mid-1960s, however, the critic Bernard Dort questioned whether popular theater was possible in a French society where workers, in fact, did not attend the theater. Culture became not only the preoccupation of persons interested in the theater but also that of politicians. Such notions as culture, cultural action and, in some cases, cultural revolution were used by political parties and radical groups to support ideological points of.view.

Armand Gatti was an innovator in the theater during this period. His participation in the popular theater









movement included writing plays, reading them to union groups, directing productions of his plays, forming a closeknit theater troupe, interacting with the theater public, and making statements about the purpose of the theater. His plays, by their subject matter and form, reflect political

and social themes of the period and thus represent a theater which sought to be more responsive to events and problems in the society.

As a young man Gatti lived through the occupation, the resistance, and the liberation of France during the Second World War. In the 1950s as a journalist, and in the 1960s and 1970s as a playwright, he was acutely aware of social injustice in France and in the Third World. Interested in history and its relation to present-day events in the world, Gatti wrote books about Russia, China, and Churchill, and articles about dictators in Central America. In 1962 he directed the film El Ot'ro''Cristopher (The -Othe*r Christopher) in Cuba before starting to direct the staging of his own

plays in France. His. global view whether expressed in books, articles, films or plays always deals with social problems.

Two important characteristics of Gatti's style in his works are naivety and optimism. In an interview with Denis Bablet in 1971 Gatti explained that the theater is a means for him to try to recapture the wonderful possibility of invention he felt as a child and the feelings he experienced when he joined the Maquis. Concerning the latter he recalled:









C'6tait un trou, dans une fort, par un froid &
peler. Je suis entr6 dans ce trou sous la terre.
Et dans ce trou, au debut, il n'y avait rien, pas d'armes, on se cherchait. J'ai commence ' rover le monde, ' rdver l'Europe, a rever tout ce qu'on
devait faire, les rapports ' changer, mais ' la
mesure d'un gosse de seize ans, qui se sent homme
et qui ne l'est pas encore. Je crois que faire du
theatre c'est pour moi retourner dans ce trou.


In many of Gatti's plays this apparent child's view conveys the optimism that the possibility to create a just society does exist. Momentary defeats such as the Commune of Paris (1871) are to be viewed as a necessary part of future victories. His characters are uncomplicated and simple. They often lack the ability to analyze their situation, and their emotional and behavioral characteristics are directly related to their social milieu. It is the spectator who critically analyzes the themes presented in the plays. Workers and guerrilla fighters who seek to make society more humane are represented as good, while owners of big businesses, government officials, and those who serve them or their own self-interest, are regarded as evil and satirized.

Jean Vilar, desiring to promote young playwrights,

first drew attention to Gatti by staging his play Le CrapaudBuffle (Oct. 1959) to inaugurate the R6camier, the small experimental theater associated with the The&tre National



1 Denis Bablet, "Entretien avec Armand Gatti," Travail Theatral, 3 (1971), p. 19.





/. 4


Populaire (TNP). The play received unfavorable reviews. It was not until Roger Planchon's troupe of the Th6atre de la Cite at Villeurbanne staged Gatti's La Vie imaginaire de l'6boueur Auguste G. (1962) that Gatti was regarded as a successful playwright. Throughout the 1960s Armand Gatti and Roger Planchon were considered to be the two theater people the most likely to succeed in creating a French popular theater. Although Gatti was greatly influenced by working with Planchon's troupe in 1962, and even used many of Planchon's actors for the TNP production of his Chant public devant deux chaises d1ectriques (1966), Planchon's troupe never staged another play of Gatti's after the presentation of Auguste G. Instead, the Grenier Thdatre at Toulouse, under the direction of Maurice Sarrazin, was particularly willing to stage Gatti's plays. The TNP, under the direction of Georges Wilson, staged Gatti's Chant public and rehearsed his La Passion du g6n6ral Franco which was banned in December 1968 just before it was scheduled to open.

Gatti's difficulties regarding the French government's cultural policy arose because of the disagreement between critics, government officials, and theater directors concerning the concept of popular theater, and because of the political themes in his plays. After the events of May 1968 Gatti continued to work with the troupe of actors known as Gatti's "Tribu," dedicated to furthering their conception of popular theater which included the active participation








of spectators. Gatti's themes and basic idea of popular theater did not change in the 1970s. Yet critics who misunderstood his notion of popular theater equally misunderstood Gatti himself. Thus after being regarded as the most promising playwright in connection with the popular theater movement in the 1960s Gatti was subsequently ignored as a French playwright when the political climate in France changed after 1968. For a French critic such as Alfred Simon, popular theater meant theater for the majority. For Gatti and other theater activists and critics influenced by Brecht, popular theater meant a political theater that expressed solidarity with the underprivileged in French society and the Third World. It was theater for the masses, not for the "majority."

In his 1971 interview with Bablet Gatti stated he did not want to continue writing for the traditional theater. In reference to his play Rosa which was then being staged in Kassel, Germany, he explained:


Rosa est en train d'dtre monte A Kassel. Elle
ne peut pas toucher les gens & qui je voudrais
m'adresser parce qu'ils n'appartiennent tout
simplement pas A ceux qui pourront la voir.
Elle devient un objet culturel, et avec elle
j'occupe une position privildgi~e par rapport
aux travailleurs. Quoi que je fasse, je suis
du c6t6 des privil6ges. . . . Je suis au service
d'une cult re pensde par une classe qui en exploite
une autre.



2 Bablet, p. 11.








At the time of the interview Gatti had written about twentyseven plays of which nineteen had been published.

The facts about Gatti's activities during the 1960s are well known, yet no study has been made of his themes and techniques in relation to the political and intellectual context of the period. This I propose to do, limiting my attention to La Vie imaginaire de l'dboueur Auguste G., Chant public devant deux chaises dlectriques, V comme Vietnam, and Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise. These four major plays were seen by large audiences and best illustrate his themes and techniques. They provide excellent examples of the close relationship between popular theater and the political and intellectual trends in France. Before considering these plays in detail, however, I shall first review the political and cultural background of the de Gaulle years and discuss the development of popular theater in France, especially with reference to the influence of Brecht.














CHAPTER I

BRECHT: THE LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND GERMAN THEATER
IN THE 1920s-1930s AND FRENCH THEATER IN THE 1960s

Armand Gatti's theater activities in the 1960s can be viewed in relation to ideas in the theater in the 1920s and 1930s in Russia and Germany. Such concerns as social consciousness, popular theater, interest in the participation of the spectator, and a critical view of society recur in a different context in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the translations in the 1960s of works by Brecht, Piscator, and Meyerhold point toward such a comparison. It is therefore helpful to think of Brecht as a link to theater in the 1920s and 1930s in Russia and Germany for French popular theater of the 1960s.

The 1920s and 1930s were years of crisis and social

change in Germany and Russia. Brecht was aware of trends in the theater and in the formalist literary circles in Russia. Although a thorough study has not been made of the Russian influence in Brecht's works, it is known that Brecht, through his friend Sergei Tretiakov, knew about the activities of Shklovsky, Meyerhold, and Mayakovsky. Tretiakov, a theoretician of socialist art, attempted to create theater capable of "operating" in society by creating a socialist public. His "production" play Ich will ein Kind haben (I Want to








have a Child) is viewed as a social experiment on the stage where love and sex are examined.1 The protagonist Milda embodies the problem of a new organization of sex and instinct. Concerned about the "production" of intelligent children, Milda wants to have a child without being emotionally involved with the father. Her behavior is contrasted with the jealous behavior of the more human Lipa, whose husband Milda uses for her personal goal. Milda's behavior in the play is presented as a social problem that the spectators are called upon to consider. After nurseries are built, a project of Milda, the Mildas will disappear. And, the Lipas will evolve into a new form of woman of which the spectator is not yet aware, but which will be the result of his participation in social changes in the society.

Brecht adopted Tretiakov's play about Milda for the

German stage and Meyerhold, although he was unable to stage the play because it was banned, rehearsed it from 1927 to 1930. Tretiakov, a poet, playwright and journalist, worked with Meyerhold as a dramatist and with Shklovsky as an editor of the review Lef. Brecht discussed the literary term prim ostranenija(making strange) with Tretiakov in connection with the acting technique of the Chinese actor Mei-Lang-Fang, who gave a demonstration of his technique in



1 Fritz Mierau, Erfindung und Korrektur: Tretjakow,
Aesthetik der Operativitat (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1976), p. 17.








Moscow during Brecht's visit there.2 Later Brecht developed his own acting method of Verfremdungseffekte (alienation effects). The purpose of Brecht's V-effects is to permit the spectator to develop a critical distance toward what is presented. Therefore the word distanciation rather than alienation describes better his application in the theater of the literary theory related to the term prim ostraneni4a.

For both Tretiakov and Brecht this practical application of distanciation in the theater involved a sociopolitical purpose. Walter Benjamin discussed this aspect of Tretiakov's and Brecht's works in his lecture given in Paris in 1934 entitled "Der Autor alsProduzent" ("The Author as Producer"). He stated that the political intent of a literary work can only be justified if it is fully integrated into the literary quality of the work and, in fact, constitutes this literary quality.3 Furthermore, a functional dependency exists between the right political intent and the advanced literary techniques of a period.

According to Benjamin, the technical forms of literature have to be transformed in order for political criti4
cism to be effective. For example, in Brecht's didactic



2 Marjorie L. Hoover, Meyerhold: The Art of Conscious Theater (Amherst: Univ. of Mass. Press, 1974), p. 264.

3 Walter Benjamin, "Der Autor als Produzent," in
Versuche Uber Brecht, ed. Rolf Tiedemann (Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp, 1967), p. 96.


Benjamin, pp. 108-12.








play Die Massnahme (The Measures Taken), Brecht and Eisler transformed the concert form by changing the use of established musical and literary techniques. In addition, the form of Brecht's epic theater causes the spectator to take part in producing the play. Brecht consciously controls the theater techniques he uses; he uses songs and montage to "distance" the spectator.from the play. These means of interruption in the structure of the play permit the spectator to discover relationships. Benjamin believes that Brecht changed the relationship between the stage and the audience, the text and the presentation, and the director and the actor by creating an epic theater which presents situations instead of developing plots.

Benjamin also raises the problem of the role of the

intellectual in changing society. 5 In 1934 he sees the difference between the author and the public begin to disappear in the Soviet press; the reader is ready to become the writer in what Benjamin calls the "literization" of living relations. He believes the establishment of the author as a producer would have to begin by the use of the press. However, since the bourgeois educational system gives writers a means of production which makes them a part of that class, it is difficult for intellectuals to become proletarian. Therefore, if the press remains in the hands of the



5 Benjamin, pp. 100; 115.








bourgeoisie, revolutionary statements could be assimilated without actually threatening the class in power.

Tretiakov also believes in the 1930s that the workers and farmers who write articles or letters published in newspapers act to "push" the worker into literature and thus create a new relationship between the writer and the reader. 6 The profession of the writer is changed from a contemplative role to one of carrying out an operation. All work, including writing, is viewed as a political and economic act which is part of the class struggle. The class enemy is not simply embodied as evil, but rather as that part in every man which appears as outdated ideas or habitual behavior in need of being changed.

In his own literary work Tretiakov examines facts in

terms of their general social interest and changes them into an argument leading to practical conclusions. His theater, which includes montage of attractions, documentaries, melodramas, agitation guignol, dramatization of newspaper articles, and production plays, is an attempt to illustrate the application of literary contributions to the practice of social change in the actual society. Even though Tretiakov did not believe in developing a personal style or in professional writing, Benjamin cited him, along with Brecht,



6
Mierau, pp. 23-24.








as a writer whose works contain both political purpose and literary quality. 7

In the 1920s the Lef group and the sociological formalists moved from Shklovsky's formalist theory of the literary device to consider its application in the proletarian revolution. 8 Such formalists attempted to inscribe their practice within the concept of cultural revolution. For them the transformation of existing relations of production and productive forces for the transition to communism also implied the transformation of existing ideological relations. The final aim of "production" art was the dissolution of art into life by breaking down the distinction between artistic work and productive labor and by giving the ordinary worker the distant and controlled relation to his work that was characteristic of the laid bare device.

Alienation-effects are for Brecht, as they were for the formalists, autonomous technical devices of art, not avatars of the alienation of man under capitalism. 9 Brecht's most important theoretical work on the theater is his Short Organum for the Theater, written in 1948 with appendices added later. Parts of this work were first



7 Benjamin, p. 98.

8 Ben Brewster,"From Shklovsky to Brecht: A Reply," Screen, 15, 2 (Summer 1974), 88-89, 91.


9 Brewster, p. 94.








published in France in the review The'.tre Populaire in 1955. Brecht transforms devices of art in order to present a critical view of society. In the prologue to the Short Organum he states:


The battle was for a theatre fit for the scientific
age, and where its planners found it too hard to
borrow or steal from the armoury of aesthetic concepts enough weapons to defend themselves against the aesthetics of the Press they simply threatened to transform the mea L of enjoyment into an instrument of instruction.! U


A new type of theater was needed because new forms of organization and a new vision of life had evolved. In this scientific age man could adopt familiar objects about him to serve him. 11But, the new approach to nature was not applied to society. It was not in the interest of the evolving bourgeois class to apply this new way of thinking and feeling to the relations which people have to one another during the exploiting and dominating process. Indeed, the role of the bourgeois class would then come to an end. Brecht therefore concludes that the productive attitude to be taken up toward nature and society entertainingly in the theater is a critical one, and states:



10 Bertolt Brecht, "Short Organum for the Theater,"
in Brecht on Theater: The Development of an 'Aesthetic, ed. and trans. John Willet (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964), p. 179.


11 Brecht, pp. 184-85.










It [theater) constructs its workable representations
of society, which are then in a positi-on to influence society, wholly and entirely as a game: for those who
are constructing society it sets out society's experiences, past and present alike, in such a manner
that the audience can 'appreciate" the feelings, insights and impulses which are distilled by the
wisest, most passionate among us from the events of
the day or the century. They must be entertained
with the wisdom that comes from the solution of
problems, with the anger that is a practical
expression of sympathy with the underdog, with the
respect due to those who respect humanity, or rather
whatever is kind to humanity, in short, with wha 2
ever delights those who are producing something.


Brecht's theoretical ideas about the theater imply

changes in acting and staging. The kind of acting which was

tried out at the Schiffbauerdamm Theater in Berlin between

the First and Second World Wars was based on the effect of

distancing. For Brecht a representation that alienates is

one which allows the spectator to recognize its subject

while making it appear unfamiliar. The V-effects are

intended to free socially-conditioned phenomena from a familiarity which protects them from being understood. In the

Short Organum he states:


This technique (distanciation] allows the theater to
make use of its representations of the new social
scientific method known as dialectical materialism.
In order to unearth society's laws of motion this method treats social situations as processes, and traces out all their inconsistencies. It regards
nothing as existing except in as far as it changes, in other words is in disharmony with itself. This



12 Brecht, p. 186.









also goes for those human feelings, opinions and
attitudes through which at any time 1 he form of men's
life together finds its expression.


In order to produce V-effects the actor has to work

against whatever means he has learned to get the audience

to identify with the characters he plays. This does not

mean, however, that the actor will or should succeed in

inhibiting this identification completely. Brecht clarifies

this point in the following appendix. to the original

Short Organum.


a) However dogmatic it may seem to insist that selfidentification with the character should be
avoided in the performance, our generation can
listen to this warning with advantage. However determinedly they obey it they can hardly carry it out to the letter, so the most likely result
is that truly rendering contradiction between
experience and portrayal, empathy and demonstration, justification and criticism, which is
aimed at.

b) The contradiction between acting (demonstration)
and experience (empathy) often leads the uninstructed to suppose that only one or the other can be manifest in the work of the actor (as if
the Short Organ . um concentrated entirely on acting and the old tradition entirely on experience). In
reality it is a matter of two mutually hostile
processes which fuse in the actor's work; his performance is not just composed of a bit of one and a bit of the other. His particular effectiveness comes from the tussle and the tension of the two opposites, and also from their depth. The style
in which the S.O. is written is partly to blame
for this.14



13 Brecht, p. 193.


14 Brecht, p. 277.








It is true that the style of the Short Organum, which is more expository than theoretical, has caused some confusion about Brecht's theories. Brecht did discard the label of epic theater, although he never renounced the concept of progress toward conscious experience which he felt epic theater makes possible.15 For Brecht the techniques of distanciation (V-effects) are the key to the theater's combative character. The application of such techniques assumes that society considers its condition to be historic and capable of improvement.

Most French dramatists and theater directors in the 1960s seemed to overlook the importance of distanciation as an integral part of Brecht's theater. Jean-Paul Sartre during his lecture entitled "Thddtre pique et theatre dramatique" given in 1959 at the Sorbonne for the ATEP (an association of Parisian theater students headed by Ariane Mnouchkine at the time) summarized Brecht's theater as follows:


Vous savez ce quest le theatre pique de Brecht,
vous connaissez sa recherche principale qui est de
montrer, d'expliquer et de faire juger plut6t que de
faire participer. Il veut montrer A la fois l'acte
individuel, et ce qu'il appelle la gestus sociale qui conditionne cet acte, il veut montreTr es contradictions qu'il y a dans toute conduite et en mdme temps



15 Brecht, p. 273.








le systeme social qui engendre ces contradictions,
tout ceci l'int~rieur d'une representation.16


Finding both the dramatic genre and the epic genre to be insufficient, Sartre goes on to suggest creating a theater which includes a subjective view along with a critical view of society. He thinks Brecht's V-effects work against creating such a theater because in his opinion:


Quand on ne partage pas les fins d'un group social
qu'on d~finit, on peut, en effet, crder une sorte de
distanciation et, par consequent, montrer les gens du
dehors et m~me quelquefois rendre par un chant ce qu'ils pensent: mais quand on est dans une socidt6 dont on partage les principes, 9a devient beaucoup
plus difficile. . . . Nous avons affaire & ce
moment-lA A un autre theatre, theatre qui essaie de
comprendre, et c'est pr~cis~ment, A mon avis, la
difference entre l'6pique et le dramatique; dans le
dramatique, on peut essayer de comprendre, mais
dans l'6pique, tel qu'on nous le pr6sente a uellement, on explique ce qu'on ne comprend pas.


Sartre's criticism of Brecht's techniques of distanciation can best be understood in relation to the debate among some Marxists regarding how to include a subjective view in the Marxist objective view of society. Sartre thought existentialism, which he considered to be a humanism, could introduce this dimension. Marxists, however, did not follow



16 Jean-Paul Sartre, "Thdatre pique et theatre dramatique," in Un Thddtre de situation, eds. Michel Contat and Michel Rybalka (Paris: Gallimard, 1973), pp. 104-05.
17 Sartre, p. 149.








Sartre's line of reasoning. Sartre's own plays, which illustrate his existentialist philosophy, emphasize the subjective view of characters and use traditional theater techniques.

Sartre does, however, express opinions about the

intellectual's position in society which are similar to those of Walter Benjamin, an advocate of Brecht. Sartre perceives a contradiction within the ideological and political framework in which an intellectual uses his knowledge. 18 The intellectual receives a general education in a particular society which has an interest in perpetuating an ideology of classes. This bourgeois ideology instills in an intellectual from childhood on a racist attitude and a humanism it presents as being universal. But the profession of the intellectual as a writer entails exposing the truth, the facts, and the contradictions in society. Therefore a conflict exists between the bourgeois ideology and the role of the intellectual. To free himself from this contradiction the intellectual must take a radical position on issues. If the intellectual lives this contradiction without questioning it, Sartre believes he is actually defending the ideology and is not an intellectual. However the writer who sees the contradiction and takes steps to combat it is an intellectual.



18 Jean-Paul Sartre, "Intellektuelle und Revolution," Neues Forum, 211-212 (June-July 1971), p. 34.









During the late 1960s and the 1970s other French

critics debated the role of the intellectual. Although the exact relationship between the influence of intellectuals and that of ideologies could not be defined, critics recognized the important roles of both in elaborating images which guide different social classes. According to Claude Pr6vost, "les hommes se servent de l'iddologie mais, tout autant et m~me davantage, sont dgalement produits et mis en movement par l'iddologie, par ce qui fonctionne comme un veritable inconscient cultural.''19 Prdvost also speaks of the importance of techniques in relation to a critique of ideologies. He states that Brecht, conscious of the techniques he used, created new meaning by using traditional literary forms:


La pratique m~me de Brecht r6v~le son effort
constant pour emprunter partout des techniques et
m~me "formes fixes"; en apparence figdes par la
tradition (la ballade, le sonnet et jusqu'au verset
biblique) et qui transporte Dieu sait quelles
ideologies. . . . Si les techniques, moyens et
proceds ne sont pas neutres, Brecht pense qu'ils peuvent 6tre neutralists pour, rdemployds dans un
autre contexte, 6tre investis de significations
nouvelles.20


Moreover, Edward Said directs attention to the relation between ideologies and the profession of a literary



19 Claude Prevost, "Litterature et idologie," Nouvelle Critique, 57 (Oct. 1972), p. 17.

20 Provost, p. 22.








critic. 21 Within a text, as well as a text of literary criticism, he perceives evidence of a continual process of struggle between the dominant and the dominated going on. Criticism adopts the mode of commentary on and evaluation of art, yet matters more as a necessarily incomplete process toward judgement and evaluation. The critical essay begins to create the values by which art is judged. Said believes criticism has above all the responsibility to oppose a monocentrism which denies plurality and recognizes one idea as the only idea possible, rather than acknowledge that an idea in history is always one among many.

Said's view of criticism as being worldly, i.e. the

critic's role being to judge his historical situation, continues the trend of developing a critical attitude toward literature, culture, ideology and society as expressed by Brecht, Benjamin, Sartre, and Prevost. This trend to see the text in relation to history and actual events is, according to Fredric Jameson, a natural evolution of formalist ideas. 22 He states that Russian Formalism began during the First World War and disappeared in 1929. After



21 Edward W. Said, "The Text, the World, the Critic,". in Textual* Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist CriElclsm, ed. Josd V. Harari (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Univ. Press, 1979), pp. 187-88.

22 Fredric Jameson, The Prison House of Language: A Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1972), preface pp. ix-x.









that date many formalists developed into literary historians, .mainly in the historical novel and in the movies. Their image of literary history as mutation proved to be unsatisfactory as philosophy and yet stimulating for the imagination. Jameson dates the structuralist movement from the publication of Claude Le'vi-Strauss' Tristes tropiques (1955) to its high point in 1966-1967 when Jacques Lacan published his Ecrits and Jacques Derrida published his first major texts. Structuralists like Ldvi-Strauss reawakened thought on the origins of culture and changed our perception of history. Jameson summarizes the influence of formalist and structuralist thought on history as follows:


To say, in short, that synchronic systems cannot
deal in any adequate conceptual way with temporal
phenomena is not to say that we do not emerge from
them with a heightened sense of the mystery of
diachrony itself. We have tended to take temporality
for granted; where everything is historical, the
idea of ~history itself has seemed to empty of
content. Perhaps that is, indeed, the ultimate
propedeutic value of the linguistic mogs; to renew
our fascination with the seeds of time.


In the theater both in the 1920s-30s and in the 1960s a critical view of the relationship between dramatic art and the real, historical world became a major concern for some dramatists. During both historical periods, in Russia and Germany (1920s-30s) and then in France (1960s)., the changes in the existing society paralleled sociopolitical activities in the theater. Although Brecht wrote



2Jameson, preface p. x.








his greatest plays while in exile during the Second World War, his ideas about the theater, particularly his V-effects, were influenced by formalist thought and activities in the Russian theater of the 1920s-30s. Beginning in the mid-1950s with the Berliner Ensemble's performances in Paris and the publication of Brecht's Short Organum, Brecht's ideas about theater inspired many experiments in the French theater. During the same period, structuralist thought in France reawakened a critical view of culture, ideology, and history.

To fully understand the trend toward socio-political drama influenced by Brecht in the 1960s in France, it is necessary to review the debate in the theater between advocates of the theater of the absurd and those of Brechtian theater, the renewed interest in Shakespearean plays viewed as being popular and political, the intellectual trends which contributed to the development of political thought in the French theater, the political policies of de Gaulle in relation to the decentralization of theaters in France, and the popular theater movement.















CHAPTER II

BRECHT IN FRANCE

In the 1960s French playwrights and critics with

knowledge of Brecht's epic theater brought into being a new movement in the French theater which made possible an enthusiastic reception of Gatti's plays. Gatti's experimentation in the theater concerning the structure of his plays, and the techniques and devices used to stage them,would not have been possible without the decentralization of the theater in France, the notion of popular theater connected with it, and an interest in the plays and theoretical works of Bertolt Brecht.

Brecht became the cited example of a number of theater directors and critics. Jean Vilar, who had produced Mere Courage at the TNP as early as 1951, was impressed by Brecht's remarks for the staging of his plays, although he disregarded Brecht's theories on dramatic art. Roger Planchon, who met with Brecht in the summer of 1955, took Brecht's style of direction and theater interpretation as a model. The interest in Brecht and popular theater prompted the founding of the review Thdtre Populaire by the publisher Arche. Contributors to this review were the most enthusiastic defenders of Brecht's epic theater. Jean Duvignaud, Jean Paris, Bernard Dort, Roland Barthes,








Arthur Adamov, and Andre Gisselbrecht presented their views about Brecht's plays and theoretical works in articles in this review. For them popular theater meant a critical theater which should activate the spectator, that is political theater.

In the early 1950s in France, with the exception of

the plays of Camus and Sartre, no political theater existed. Yet the political situation in France demanded such drama in a form more directly appealing than the plays of Camus and Sartre where the characters illustrate existential philosophical beliefs.2 Both playwrights present uncommon experiences that occur in the uncommon lives of heroes: Sartre's include a Greek prince, a South American deserter, a Communist party leader, a general of peasant wars, a prince of German industry; those of Camus are a Roman Emperor, a Tchekoslovakian emigrant, a Russian poet-assassin, and a Spanish hero. Both writers attempted to forge myths of rebels who seek clarity despite the absurdity of beingin-the-world. Whereas Sartre called upon heroes to take action to make history, Camus believed one could not act without first having certain values-- mainly a solidarity with other men.



1 Agn~s Hifner, Brecht in Frankreich 1930-1963: Verbreitung, Aufnahme, Wirkung (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlerischer, 1968), p. 47.
2 Ruby Cohn, Currents in Contemporary Drama (Blooming&ohn., Indiana Univ. Press, 196 ), pp. 24-26.








The actual political events in France and Brecht's

theater contributed toward establishing political drama in France. Brecht viewed the theater as having an ideological purpose; its function was to transform society by showing the spectator that he could intervene in the historical process. Brecht experts writing articles for the review The'atre Populaire judged the French staging of a Brecht play negatively if it varied from the Berliner Ensemble model, or if it presented the political content in a banal commonplace way. The bourgeois critic Jean-Jacques Gautier, on the other hand, praised the type of staging which showed a tendency toward generalizing the political theme. 3 Whereas Vilar believed the function of the theater was to integrate the individual into the community, Gatti, more in line with the critics of Thda~tre Populaire, felt that the theater's purpose was to form critical spectators. As a playwright he, like Brecht, sought to "divide" the audience and did not believe a theater performance could create a unity which did not actually exist in the society.

Through the efforts of the review Theatre Populaire

(published from 1953 to 1964) Brecht's plays and theoretical works were discussed. The concept of epic theater as a system and method, and the idea that a social conflict is inseparable from its historical context, were established.




3Hiifner, p. 115.








The critic Bernard Dort was mainly concerned with the social and historical approach as the style principle for the structure of Brecht's drama. 4In his Lecture de Brecht (1960) he explored the structure of Brecht's work and system and emphasized his conception of the world and man as realities which are changeable. He saw this as the newness of Brecht's drama in contrast to classical theater in which the world and man are shown as unchangeable. Dort's interest in the epic realism of Brecht's work was also a sign of an increasing interest in realism in French theater in the 1960s. Roland Barthes regarded Brecht's theater as Marxist theater constructed on the basis of dialectic and historical materialism. 5Andre' Gisselbrecht believed it' illustrated that the class struggle prevented goodness by showing the connection and dependence of morals on the capitalistic economic system. He also thought Brecht pointed toward the reasoning that the only way out for the spectator is a revolutionary struggle founded on the knowledge of the laws of the society.

In 1957 Roger Planchon was the first director to stage Arthur Adamov's Paolo Paoli, a social critical drama dealing with the First World War and the economic relationship




4Hiifner, p. 57 cites Dort Theatre Populaire 11, 1955, p. 29.


5Hiifner, pp. 134; 136-38.








between the individual and the society. In the same year he was the first director to stage Michael Vinaver's play Les Cor4ens; some critics considered this play to be the first attempt to create a French epic theater. Planchon was the only French director who was using the style of the Berliner Ensemble and the theories of Brecht as models for staging plays.6 One of the first performances characterized by the Brecht supporters as being Brechtian was Planchon's Henry IV (1957); George Dandin and La Seconde Surprise de l'amour followed (1958-1959). For Planchon, realistic drama such as Shakespeare's, Calderon's or Moli~re's required a Brechtian staging, that is one which rendered the social aspects of the drama prominent.

In 1960 Planchon felt that one could not stage a play by Brecht without engaging oneself both politically and esthetically. In order to produce Brecht's plays, a certain degree of political engagement is necessary. It is for this reason that Brecht's plays were staged only at the TNP or in regional theaters. Whether the concept of popular theater was understood as political theater, as it was by Roger Planchon, Andr6 Gisselbrecht, Roland Barthes and Bernard Dort, or as "th6ftre pour le peuple" which was not bourgeois theater, by Jean Dast6, Jean Vilar and Alfred Simon, what was decisive for the success of Brecht in France was the



6 Hfner, pp. 125; 192.








political view Brecht afforded and the readiness of some French critics, directors, and actors to follow his example.

After 1961, however, Planchon did not include any

more Brecht plays in his repertory. By the beginning of the 1960s the situation had changed concerning some French critics' attitudes toward Brecht. For the right, the political engagement of Brecht no longer seemed so dangerous since his death in 1955. Some critics on the left, such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Alfred Simon, and Michael Vinaver, reacted against copying Brecht. 7 Without denying Brecht's significance in their development, many playwrights wanted

to establish their own criteria. Armand Gatti and Gabriel Cousin brought out their first plays at this time. Realism and politics are the main concepts which such new playwrights had in common with Brecht's theater.



Brecht versus*Theater of the Absurd

Another aspect of Brecht's influence on the French theater which needs to be dealt with is the controversy between Brechtian theater and the theater of the absurd. There were a number of free-lance directors, working in Paris or for theater festivals in the provinces, who were staging plays by well-known, so-called absurd playwrights. Nicolas Bataille launched the theater of the absurd with his




7Hiifner, p. 153.








production of Ionesco's La Cantatrice chauve (1950). Subsequently Jacques Mauclair, with Victimes du devoir (1953) and Les Chaises (1956), helped to establish Ionesco in the theater. Jean-Marie Serreau staged Am6dee ou comment s'en debarrasser (1954) and La Soif et' la faim (1966) of Ionesco. Roger Blin began his career with Artaud, then formed an association with Samuel Beckett. He produced Beckett's En attendant Godot (1953), Fin de partie (1957), La Derniere Bande (1960) for the TNP (R~camier), and Oh Les beau jours (1963) for Madeleine Renaud at the Theatre de France. He also produced Jean Genet's Les N~gres in 1959. Absurd plays continued to be frequently staged during the 1960s particularly in private theaters and at the Theatre de France directed by Jean-Louis Barrault.

During the 1960s innovative European theater was dominated by two contending influences: the Brechtian (or epic) and the absurd. Ionesco, who called the Brechtians propagandists distorting the truth in the interest of their political cause, was pitted against Kenneth Tynan, Sartre, Adamov, and the collaborators of the review Theater Populaire. Left-wing playwrights and critics who were enthusiasts of Brecht attacked the works of Beckett and Ionesco, stating they neglected social issues.

Martin Esslin believes this was a false controversy

because, for him, drama is concerned with recreating human states of emotion that permit audiences to experience









emotions that would otherwise be denied to them. 8He sees similarly powerful poetic metaphors of human emotion in Brecht's plays and in Becksett's plays. Mother Courage pulling her cart is a poetic image of human resilience and tenderness just as the barren tree with the waiting figures in Waiting for Godot is a poetic image of the emptiness of human existence. According to Esslin the politically and

socially oriented playwrights simply concentrate their intentions on external reality (political conditions, social problems) while the introspective poetic playwrights such as Beckett and Ionesco tend to favor an inner truth. The plays of Beckett and Ionesco are dreams which Esslin believes are as real to them and to the audience as external realities are to the Brechtians. Esslin thinks the two types of theater are really heading toward some sort of fusion.

It is true that both Brechtian and absurd theater have brought a number of dramatic techniques into contemporary recognition and use. Andrew Fitch cites as authors working with elements which can be identified as epic or absurd Jean Genet (Les Paravents), Peter Weiss (Marat/Sade) and Armand Gatti (particularly Auguste G.). 9Although there



8 Martin Esslin, An Anatomy'of Drama (New York: Hill and Wang), 1977), pp. 116-18.

9Andrew Fitch, "A Fusion Avant-Gard?" Drama Survey, 5,1 (Spring 1966) , 55; 57-58.








is a mixture of elements from both styles in the plays

cited, these elements are presented in conflict, as opposite sides of a debate or confrontation. For example in Les Paravents, political satire exists mainly as a backdrop and counterpoint to the themes of death, illusion, and the outcast's story. In Marat/Sade the.only element of the absurd is the lunatic world against which takes place the debate between the individual and the collective. In Gatti's play, the death of the protagonist and the social conflict which causes it are not in apparent conflict. For this reason Fitch believes the play, like others by Gatti, may be the closest approximation of the absurd and the epic. Yet, when Gatti does use absurd techniques (music hall clowning, exaggeration, dream language) to explore the meaningfulness of human experience, he wants them to serve as episodic counterpoint to point up the essential political and historical nature of the play. Fitch concludes, therefore, that the combination of absurd and epic elements in the three plays discussed occurs in the form of tension, that is a counterpoint construction which actually points up an incongruity between the elements. According to him, no playwright can adhere to both absurd and epic theater, since they pose a fundamental choice on the philosophical and existential levels and illustrate irreconcilable differences.










Norman Holland also states there is a basic difference between absurd and epic theater. 10He makes a distinction between the effect on the audience of both types of plays. To do so he differentiates the style of the 1930s from the one after the Second World War. He refers to the 1930s style as "modernique" and the postwar style as "postmodernique." As defined by Holland, the 1930s style is characterized by traditional beliefs which were held with passion and conviction, such as those aroused by the SpaLnish Civil War. The postwar style includes mass murders, sick comedians, abstract expression, politics concerning non-Western peoples, the UN and NATO, a decline in ideology in favor of a confrontation of specific crises such as the Korean war, the H-bomb, an unwillingness to commit oneself to any belief, and a quest for certitude in terms of internal states while confronting the incomprehensibility of the external world.

Having established the difference between these two

styles, Holland states that a playwright such as Ionesco in a meta-play (Holland's term) creates in us a deep sense of personal uncertainity about ourselves, an unclear relation of self to object (audience to the work); he then offers intellection as a self-defeating way of dealing with the



10 Norman N. Holland, "Recent Drama Criticism: Bathtubs in the Nose," The Hudson Review, 17, 4 (Winter 1964), 622-23; 625-26.









miniature psychosis the play has caused. Brecht's style, according to Holland, is between the postwar style and the 1930s style of theater. Believing the right attitude toward any real, important phenomenon is a casual, contemptuous one, since it is the only one which permits concentration and alertness, Brecht calls for an attitude of criticism and demands acting that will enable the audience to draw abstract conclusions. In this way he is "postmodernique." Yet to the extent that he is a Marxist, his plays have both a social concern and a placing of events in historical space and time that does not occur in metatheater. Consequently his style can also be considered "modernique." Holland concludes that Brecht has taken the best of both the "modernique" style and the "postmodernique" style by writing plays which are richer and more humane than Ionesco's. His plays involve a belief, and although Brecht confuses his audiences in a "postmodernique" way, he offers belief as a solution to the conflicts of the play.

Fitch bases his analysis of epic and absurd theater on structural elements in plays; Holland bases his on the reaction of the spectator. Both critics recognize a social purpose in epic theater which is not present in absurd theater. In January 1968, however, Rende Saurel voiced discouragement concerning the fils de Brecht and the social purpose of popular theater when reviewing four plays being presented in suburban Parisian theaters: Adamov's La Politique des restes (Th6&tre Gfrard-Philipe at Saint-Denis);









Brecht's Les Visions de Simon Marchard (Theatre de la Commune at Aubervilliers) and La Neige au milieu de 1'6t6 and Le Voleur de femmes by Kuan-Han-Ching (Th'-tre de Sartrouville) directed by Patrice Ch6reau.II One production denounced racism, one gave a cruel image of France under the Occupation, and the third showed man trapped in an iniquitous social order. Yet Saurel questioned how effective popular theater was when stating:


On voudrait 6tre sar que ce theatre critique,
historique, ne se limite pas au temps de la
representation donn~e au nom d'une "culture" en
train de passer au stade industriel et, hdlas,
aux mains des affairistes, qu'il en reste un
ferment actif, un levain qui modifie le spectateur, si peu que ce soit, pour que celui-la '
l'occasion, accepte le combat direct. Mais qui
peut affirmer que tous ces mythes, ces fables,
ce repertoire pique, didactique, que ce travail
effectu6 par des hommes qui croient ' ce qu'ils
font - c'est le cas de Garran, de Valverde,
de Ch~reau -ne demeure lettre morte.12


Since in Gaullist France one was staging plays by

Brecht, Gatti, and Adamov in state-supported theaters, it appeared to Saurel that the popular theater offered the government the opportunity to recuperate any contestation while giving the impression of being a very liberal administration. In the same article she concluded:



11 Rene Saurel, "Les Fils de Brecht et les fils
d'Artaud," Les Temps Modernes, 260 (Jan. 1968), p. 1308.

12 Saurel, -ILes Fils de Brecht," p. 1316.










Qu'on le nomme thd tre populaire, ou politique, ou
engage, ou de contestation, peu importe, ce qui apparalt c'est que ce th4atre se debat entre les
mailles d'un filet et que les hommes de bonne foi qui le pratiquent s'6puisent, et nous avec eux, '
ressasser les termes d'une tragique contradiction.13


The contradiction being that playwrights were attacking in their plays the very government which was financing their protests. Saurel judged that young directors such as Lavelli, Garcia, and Savary, who staged an irrational, magic kind of theater of ceremony or celebration in the line of Artaud and opposed to Brecht's conception of theater, were not experiencing a feeling of contradiction and powerlessness, as were directors such as Chfreau, Valverde, or Garran.

It is not the purpose of this study to establish that

one kind of theater in the 1960s was necessarily better than other kinds. In fact it was the variety of theater experimentation in France, including "happenings" and controversial interpretations of French classics, which made the decade exciting. A freedom of expression was common to many projects. In her book Off-Stage Voices, Bettina Knapp chooses a cross section of contemporary dramatists active in the 1960s and classifies them under the following headings: dramatists of the theater of the absurd (Robert Pinget, Fernando Arrabal, Jacques Borel); poetic and imagistic theater (Jean Vauthier, Marguerite Duras, Roland Dubillard,



13 Saurel, "LeP'Fils de Brecht," p. 1318.









Romain Weingarten, Nathalie Saurraute, Jean-Claude Carriere, Frangois Billetdoux, Liliane Atlan); socially-oriented dramatists (Armand Gatti, Georges Michel, Gabriel Cousin); humorous and farcical theater (Jeanine Worms, Ren6 de Obaldi,
14
Rezvani). In addition, an interest in freely adapting Shakespeare's plays coincided with the attempt to create political theater in France. Brecht served as an example for such projects, since he freely adapted Shakespeare's Coriolanus and spoke of Elizabethan theater and Shakespeare in his theoretical works.



Shakespeare and Brecht as Models


Bernard Dort noted that Brecht simultaneously exalted Shakespeare and turned him into derision.15 For Brecht Shakespeare was at the same time the most qualified, and therefore the most harmful, representative of what he called "old" theater. He was also the precursor of the new theater in which Brecht in the 1950s saw the necessary result of the epic form.

While Brecht rejected the ideology of Shakespeare's tragic vision of the universe, he did accept the forms of



14 Bettina Knapp, Off-Stage Voices: Interviews with Modern French Dramatists, ed. Alba Amoie (Troy, N.Y.: Whitson, 1975), p. 7.

15 Bernard Dort,"Brecht devant Shakespeare," Revue d'Histoire de Theatre, 1 (1965), pp. 73-74.










the Elizabethan theater which appeared to him to be an anticipation of epic theater. 16According to Dort, everything that was at hand could be included in Shakespeare's tragedy: everyday events, tales of crime, history, legends, politics

and philosophy. Brecht also liked the fact that Shakespeare's plays were not only adaptations of earlier works, but they even contained in them whole fragments of former works. To Brecht they appeared to be constructed according to the basic technique of montage which permits including the heterogeneous elements present in epic literature. Brecht was also intrigued by Shakespeare's theater because it could be considered to be a product of collective work, a work which was never definitive since it was always open to revisions. Furthermore, Brecht noted in Shakespeare's plays V-effects: roles of women were played by men and the countryside was not imitated by decor but instead described by the poet in the middle of the action.

In an article appearing in 1959 in Cit6 Panorama, a

review published by the The'Atre de la Cite' at Villeurbanne, the reasons why Planchon's troupe found it particularly appropriate to stage Shakespeare's Henry IV were stated as follows:


- Parce que le "temps dangereux" oti vdcut
Shakespeare n'est pas sans ressembler au n6tre.



16 Dort, p. 70.











- Parce que le theatre shakespearien, th6atre de l'homme, sans distinction de race, de nation, de
classe ou de culture, semble 6tre l'instrument
ideal d'une experience de th6atre populaire
- Parce que les "caracteres" n'y sont jamais traits
pour eux-mdmes, mais toujours ' travers de grandes collisions historiques, et que les destins individuels y sont toujours indissolublement lids au
destin collectif.
- Parce que, 6crit pour un public populaire, compris par lui en son temps, le theatre shakespearien est 17
rest accessible au public populaire d'aujourd'hui.


But Jean Jacquot in his article entitled "Vers un theatre du

peuple" criticizes Planchon's interpretation of this play

of Shakespeare by stating:


Il parait ressortir de tout ceci qu'un animateur qui
voudrait faire du theatre un instrument de culture
populaire, en montrant des pieces qui donnent & penser,
qui approfondissent la conscience et d~veloppent
le sens des responsabilitds, n'aurait qu'& laisser
parler Shakespeare, et permettre 'a son oeuvre de
s'organiser sur la sc~ne selon la loi qui lui est
propre.18


Jacquot believes such plays contain self-evident universal

values which do not need to be explained in a theater production.

Jacquot proceeds to state exactly which elements he does

not like in Planchon's production. These innovations

resemble Brechtian techniques. For example as a means to



17 "Pourquoi Henri IV?" Cit6-Panorama,4 (Apr.-May 1959) cited by Jean Jacquot in "Vers un th6Ntre du peuple," Etudes Anglaises, 2 (Apr.-June 1969), p. 233.


18 Jacquot, p. 234.










break up and counteract the poetic effect of the text during a long monologue, Planchon has Henry IV stuff himself with food. He adds silent scenes which show the suffering, brutality, and humiliation endured by the soldiers and the masses. Jacquot finds the mute scenes acceptable, but he does not like the staging of the combat scene between prince Henry and Hotspurs where the partisans of the prince are shown to attack and kill Hotspurs. Nor does he like the scene showing the prince accomplishing "curious gymnastics" at the foot of a large crucifix in an inn, while expressing repentence at a place in the text which Jacquot believes does not suggest such repentence. 19He also dislikes the idea of Falstaff being a spokesman for the people, the projection of commentaries on a scre en during the changing of scenes, and the music used in fragments, superimposed or mixed with other noise, to characterize institutions and social groups. Brecht, however, encouraged such experimentation as witnessed by his notes on Coriolanus.

The English director Peter Brook who staged plays in France during the 1960s believes there is a need to find one's way "forward" to Shakespeare in the post-Brecht theater. 20Since Shakespeare's theater allowed the playwright to move from the world of action to the world of



19 Jacquot, p. 235.

20 Peter Brook, The Empty Space (New York: Avon, 1969), p. 33.









inner impressions, Brook sees both Brecht and Beckett contained in Shakespeare unreconciled. The spectator identifies emotionally, subjectively--and yet can evaluate politically, objectively in relation to the society. In a statement about the structural elements of Shakespeare's plays Brook concludes:


Because the profound reaches past the everyday, a
heightened language and a ritualistic use of rhythm
brings us to those very aspects of life which the
surface hides: and yet because the poet and the
visionary do not seem like ordinary people, because
the epic state is not one on which we normally dwell,
it is equally possible for Shakespeare with a break
in his rhythm, a twist into prose, a shift into
slangy conversation or else a direct word from the audience to remind us - in plain common sense-- of
where we are and to return As to the familiar rough
world of spades as spades.


The element of "roughness" which Brook finds in Shakespeare is also the theater which Brook characterizes as popular, a source which he believes continually revives the genre. Through the ages popular theater has taken many forms and the factor which they have in common is roughness. It is a theater close to the people which uses such elements as satire and grotesque caricature, asides, placards, topical references, local jokes, songs, dances, contrasts, exaggeration, false noses, stock types, and slapstick. 22 Brook sees this quality of roughness in the Elizabethan



21 Brook, p. 80.

22 Brook, pp. 59-64.









theater and in the present-day English theater. He strongly believes that along with serious, committed work there must be irresponsibility. He views the gaiety on which this theater feeds as the same energy that produces rebellion and opposition. The wish to change society and to get it to confront eternal hypocrises can be dealt with through such characters as Falstaff and Tartuffe, who provide the author with a means to attack and criticize through laughter.

In the early 1960s Roger Planchon's troupe pieced

together a play which they entitled Les Trois Mousquetaires in the "rough" spirit that Brook defined in 1969. Dumas' novel was simply used as a framework. The authors and directors of that era, Brecht, Claudel, Vilar, Barrault and Planchon himself (particularly their styles of directing), were pitted against one another in a satiric manner. Following May 1968, Planchon's troupe staged "La Contestion et la Mise en Pieces de la plus illustre des tragedies frangaises Le Cid de Pierre Corneille, suivie d'une "cruelle" mise ' mort de l'Auteur dramatique et d'une distribution gracieuse de diverses conserves culturelles." In this collective work inspired by Planchon the problems of contemporary theater are parodied (Hair as well as Arrabal, Grotowski, and maisons de la culture ). May 1968 is commemorated by a ballet with large black flags and red flags, and graffiti. Rende Saurel commenting on the play describes










it as "la joyeuse mise au tombeau d'une 6poque et la fin d'une grande illusion."23

The productions of Ariane Mnouchkine's Theatre du Soleil took a similar direction in the 1970s. In some respects, however, their research in popular theater seems to lack the vitality of opposition which Brook defines as "roughness." The troupe is not actually playing to a popular audience and their experimentation emphasizes a critical examination of the theater as theater more than a gaiety aimed at producing rebellion or effective social criticism.



Brecht and the Actor

One more aspect that should be discussed in relation to Brecht is the importance of the profession of acting in the 1960s and the 1970s. The new attention directed toward the actor in France is evidenced by Jean Duvignaud's L'Acteur: Esquisse d'une sociologie du com~dien (1965), and Odette Aslan's L'Acteur au XX sible: Evolution de la technique, probleme d'thique (1974).

Duvignaud thinks the actor represents all the possibil24
ities of an era and of a society. According to him, the



23 Ren~e Saurel, "Avec Gignoux, Planchon et Rdtor6." Les Temps Modernes, 282 (Jan. 1970), p. 1120.

24 Jean Duvignaud, L'Acteur: Esquisse d'une sociologie du com6dien (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), p. 169.









actor in our times has a new social role. He has been elevated to the level of a creator, since he is not only an interpretor but also an inventor who creates the forms of live participation. This trend is associated with the liberation of the theater through new techniques and the appearance of new audiences. An actor in the theater or in films is often a metteur en scene, and his being an actor has an influence on how dramatic works will be interpreted. Although he is seldom an author, he sometimes participates in collective writing and does assume most of the other activities involved in the practice of theater. In the comtemporary society the actor has also taken on the symbols of politics and engagement.

Odette Aslan, basing most of her remarks on Brecht's theoretical works Schriften zum Theater (Writings on Theater), defines a committed and politically engaged actor as a Brechtian actor who is part of a theater group having a political objective.25 He therefore studies all the aspects of the proposed situation in a play by interrogating himself and formulating his objections. To create the distanciation needed to discover the various aspects of a role, roles are not distributed in function of the physical aspects of the actors, during rehearsals actors exchange roles, and sometimes roles are ridiculed by comic actors. This



25 Odette Aslan, L'Acteur au XX siocle: Evolution de la technique, problbme d'1thique (Paris: Seghers, 1974), p. 162.









distanciation is related to the actor's intention to make society better by inciting the spectator to take part in the struggle to stop the inequality of different classes. The actor wants to show the spectator the alternatives which are open to the character. Besides what one decides to do, there also exists what one has decided not to do.

Referring to the techniques used by actors to structure a play's staging, Aslan states that each scene exists in itself, although the actor indicates at all times a relationship with the final scene. 26The insertion of projections on screens, the intrusion of music, and bright lights work to break up the continuity of the acting. The actor passes from prose to verse and from speaking to singing, with the songs being a part of the antiillusionist interruptions in the spectacle. Gestures are selected which express the global attitude of the social characteristic illustrated in the play. This gestus is the mimed expression of the social relationships which are established between men of a certain period. The spoken text of the actor is broken down in function of the gestus. Beyond the sense of each phrase, the actor works to put into light the fundamental gestus. These gestures can be brusk, syncopated or contradictory. The ddcor, costumes, accessories, and everything which constitutes the mise en scene should work to facilitate the actor's actions.



26 Aslan, pp. 171; 299.






45


Aslan considers Roger Planchon and Giogio Strehler

to be directors influenced by Brecht's idea of distanciation and a desire to politicize the spectacle by establishing a link between what is happening on the stage and what is taking place in the actual world. It should be remembered, however, that Aslan summarizes Brecht's theories about acting; in practice various directors and theater groups interpret Brecht's theories in different ways.
















CHAPTER III

POLITICAL THOUGHT


Cultural Revolution

As early as 1916 ideas such as cogestion, workers'

councils, and cultural revolution were being discussed in Italy. Antonio Gramsci, a revolutionary socialist, defined then what many theater activists and Brechtian critics in France in the 1960s advocated as the purpose of culture in relation to popular theater. For Gramsci culture has nothing to do with a university degree. 1Rather than formalized education, it is a disciplining of one's inner self to come to terms with one's own personality. Culture is the attainment of a higher awareness with which one succeeds in understanding one's own historical value, function in life, rights and obligations. According to Gramsci, however, it is only by degrees that humanity acquires this consciousness of its own value, and wins for itself the right to throw off the patterns of organization imposed on it by minorities at previous periods in history. This consciousness is formed



1 Antonio Gramsci, "Socialism and Culture," Il Grido
del Popolo, 29 January 1916, in Antonio Gramsci: Selections from Political Writings 1910-11929, trans. John Mathews (New York: International Publisher, 1977), pp. 12-13.









as a result of intelligent reflection - at first by just a few people and later by a whole class --on why certain conditions exist and how best to convert the facts of oppression into rebellion and social change.

This means that every revolution is preceded by an

intense period of criticism, and the diffusion of culture and ideas among masses of men. Gramsci cites as an example the French Revolution. The Enlightenment (the preceding cultural period) was a revolution in itself. It gave Europe a unified bourgeois consciousness, one which was sensitive to the misfortunes of the common people and which prepared the way for the revolt that followed in France. Napoleon's armies found their road already prepared by books and pamphlets that had come out of Paris in the first half of the eighteenth century. After the French events had created a unified consciousness, a demonstration in Paris was enough to provoke similar disturbances in Milan, Vienna, and smaller cities in France, Germany, and Italy.

Gramsci saw the same phenomenon occurring in 1916 in the case of socialism. It was through a critical view of capitalist civilization that the unified consciousness of the proletariat was being formed. This critical view implied Gramscils definition of culture, that is a consciousness of a self which is opposed to others, which is differentiated, and which can judge facts and events in so far as they tend to drive history forward or backward in terms of social









progress. Thus, Gramsci's view of the purpose of culture connotes political involvement.

In 1922 in Russia, new literary groups sprang up propagating ideas in manifestos and pamphlets which proclaimed freedom from the previous culture.2 Such groups as the agitprop (agitation and propaganda), the Proletcult (proletarian culture), the Constructivists, the peasant writers, and the Formalists prepared the way for a critical view of the existing society. The Russian Futurists established themselves in the Commissariat for Popular Education and succeeded for a time in controlling cultural life. Mayakovsky traveled throughout the country reading poetry in factories. His Mystery-Bouffe (1918) written for popular festivals is a mixture of heroic deeds and aggressive buffoonery. It was staged by Meyerhold on the first anniversary of the Revolution. Written just ten years after the Revolution, Mayakovsky's last works express hatred of the new class of Communist elite. His satires The Bedbug (1928) and The Bath (1929) illustrate a Stalinist bureaucracy.

Toward the end of the 1920s the favorable conditions which had made possible the creative development of art in the Soviet Union were wiped out. Mayakovsky committed suicide in 1930. In 1932 all artists' groups formed during the



2 Jargen Rahle, Literature and Revolution: A Critical Study of the Writer and Communism in the Twentieth Century,
trans. Jean Steinberg (New York: Frederick A. Prager, 1969), pp. 3; 5; 14; 18.









Revolution were disbanded and reformed into a single league of Soviet writers. In the transition from the revolutionary to the totalitarian phase in Soviet cultural policy men like Meyerhold were murdered. Under Stalin, socialist realism became the guiding principle of Soviet cultural policy.

The term "socialist realism" was first used by Maxim Gorky who had in mind a vague combination of realism and socialist romanticism. 3Using Gorky's name, Zhdanov, Stalin's cultural ideologist, speaking at the First Writers' Congress decreed that socialist realism was to become the official art doctrine. The concept remained unclear although bureaucrats and ideologists see it as a combination of a few basic principles such as "party-mindedness," "folkmindedness," optimism, and positive heroes. Socialist realism is actually a political category growing out of a totalitarian system. It is primarily used as an instrument of mass persuasion and psychological intimidation. Although the power of persuasion inherent in art makes the Communists want to control culture, a socialist realism which seeks to represent reality not as it is but as it ought to be destroys the power of art.

The totalitarian attempt to control art is not derived from Marxist theory. According to the Marxist concept of art as superstructure, the economic base (which includes the geographic base, social milieu, and race) does not influence



3Riihle, pp. 78-79.










ideology-- particularly more remote spheres like art and literature -- directly or deterministically, but instead through a variety of factors. 4Tradition, individuality, and social change play some part. Ideology in turn influences the economic base and helps shape economic and historical processes. Art stands in an extremely complicated and contradictory relationship to the social base and to politics and can never be completely understood sociologically or determined. Moreover every work of art contains personal and aesthetic aspects which have nothing to do with social history. In their fight for the liberation of art, Communist writers such as Kolakowski, Luka~cs, and Garaudy take refuge in Marx. In doing so they contradict the Leninist social concept which is totalitarian and continues to serve as the guideline in the the Soviet Union.

In Germany after the First World War it became apparent that Expressionism was not merely a revolt against existing art forms. The destruction of existing forms indicated the destruction of the existing social order. 5The intellectual revolution preceded the political revolution. Expressionists such as Kurt Eisner, Ernst Toller,Walter Hasenclever and Bertolt Brecht were also members of the Independent Social Democratic Party. They helped set up revolutionary



4Rtihle, pp. 131-32; 135-38.


5Riihle, pp. 147-49.










governments and sat on workers' councils. With the decline of the revolutionary wave, the Independent Social Democratic Party disbanded; its left wing went over to the Communist Party in 1920 and its right wing returned to the Social Democratic Party in 1922. In 1923 a new trend evolved called "New Objectivism." It included topical novels and journalistic reportage, epic and documentary plays, reviewspopular songs, and jazz. Its aim was to have literature look at the world objectively and realistically, in order to form a critical view of the world.

In 1942 Mao Tse-tung, a founding member of the Communist Party in China, summoned the left-wing writers to a conference in Communist-held Yenan Province and proposed Lu Hsin as a model to follow. 6 Mao asked writers to break with the classical literary tradition by writing in the language of the workers, peasants, and soldiers. Hu Feng, a Communist since the 1920s and a close friend of Lu Hsin, was regarded as China's leading Marxist literary critic. Like Lu Hsin, he was involved in constant arguments with the Party bureaucrats. After Stalin's death he launched an attack on Communist cultural policy which demanded that a revolutionary writer adhere to Communist ideology, develop an understanding of the lives of workers, peasants and soldiers, follow the Party line, and confine himself to



6 Rahle, pp. 410; 420; 431.









officially approved themes. In July 1954 Hu Feng submitted his program for liberalization directly to the Central Committee. In the spring of the following year, all the cultural groups of the Chinese People's Republic passed resolutions denouncing Hu Feng's heresy. He subsequently was arrested and tried.

Between 1966 and 1968 took place the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which dominated events in China for a decade. It was Mao's third purge of intellectuals and its stated goal was the eradication of the four evils: old ideas, old culture, old morality, and old customs. When Mao perceived a growing hierarchization of administrative and political structures threatening to reintroduce forms of privilege and discrimination which had been associated with capitalism, he used the concept of cultural revolution to engage the Chinese people in a political struggle to combat this hierarchization. The Cultural Revolution in China stressed the importance of ideas and of understanding every activity in terms of the class struggle. An essential principle was to combat the division between mental and manual labor to enable the masses to participate directly in the ideological struggle. The excesses of the Cultural Revolution in China turned the campaign into a perso nality cult around Mao.

In France during the 1960s it was the linking of the importance of the personal struggle, particularly in the ideological field, with a commitment to the Third World that.









made Maoism an appropriate form for the expression of hatred of the consumer society with links to underdeveloped countries and markets.7 Jean-Luc Godard was attracted to Maoism because it did not dictate in advance the form of films that must be made. It insisted that this was an open question which, as in other areas of ideological struggle, must be solved by a combination of practical experiment and theoretical reflection. Godard's commitment to Maoism was to wane after 1972 but between 1967 and 1972 he worked on films with Maoist students. He first came in contact with them while filming La Chinoise (1967). He collaborated with Jean-Pierre Gorin, a young French Maoist, on the last four Dziga-Vertov films: Vent d'est (1970), Lotte in Italia (1970), Valdimir et Rosa (1970), and the unfinished Jusqu',% la victoire (1970), as well as on the films Tout va bien (1972) and Letter to Jane (1972).8



The New Left

The new left in the West in the 1960s introduced a new era moved by new impulses and ideas. The Bolsheviks had



7 Colin MacCabe, Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1980), p. 58.

8 The Vertov group was named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov. In the 1920s he insisted that the main concern then was the current state of the class struggle. He also emphasized the importance of montage before shooting films. Godard formed the Vertov Group with French Maoist students in the late 1960s.









failed to grasp the necessity for the revolutionary process to be accompanied by a "reform of consciousness," such as the young Marx and subsequently Gramsci had called for, by which the proletariat would become intellectually and emotionally emancipated from the existing system.9 The struggle against political and economic . c power carried on by radical minorities only becomes revolutionary when accompanied by a struggle for a reform of consciousness within the masses. Herein lies the relevance of the cultural Marxists of the 1920s and 1930s for the new left in the 1960s. The former most clearly understood the necessity of overcoming the dichotomy between the personal and the political. According to these cultural revolutionaries the critical economic consciousness of Marxism --its grasp of the dynamics of social and historical life-- had to be fused with a comprehension of the factors underlying everyday life and the forces conditioning the psychic development of the individual personality. Such a broadened perspective would restore the problems of the individual to a central position alongside those of the collectivity, and would facilitate the control of individuals over their everyday lives without external constraints.



9 Bruce Brown, Marx, Freud, and theCritilqiie of Everyday Life: Toward a Permanent Cultural Revolution (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973), pp. 15-16, 22-29.










In France between the two World Wars the surrealists sought a method of cultural revolution based on a new conception of human possibilities and aimed at unlocking physical and psychological barriers between the conscious and the unconscious, the inner world and the outer world, so as to create a sur-re'alite' in which the real and the imaginary would fuse and dominate life. The existing social, scientific, and philosophical values were to be radically transformed through the liberation of the unconscious. In Central Europe, Wilhelm Reich was investigating a new cultural revolution project based on the idea that forms of class domination imposed on the masses by repressive society were related to a parallel process of psychological and sexual repression imposed on individuals during socialization within the patriarchal family.

What both Reich and the surrealists were attempting to do in their reformulations of revolutionary thought, Reich through a synthesis of Freud and Marx and the surrealists through a less systematic unification of politics, psychology, and art, was to develop a new definition of radical politics which would overcome the insufficiency of Marxism. They were among the first to recognize the revolutionary potential contained within the crisis of everyday life as it was beginning to be revealed in the 1920s by the breakdown of the patriarchal family, of traditional sexual morality, and of old cultural patterns. The emergence of struggles on









the part of women and youth for greater independence and in search of new life-styles evidenced this change.

After having been neglected for decades, the original

cultural revolutionary project emerged throughout the industrial West during the 1960s as a "new" left. From the perspective of the new left it appears that the antiauthoritarian student movement, the youth culture, the revolts of minorities within the industrial countries, and the movement for female and sexual liberation constitute potentially revolutionary responses to capitalist exploitation and oppression. Of fundamental importance to the new leftists are the claims of the individual against the power of a bureaucratic administrative apparatus which has fragmented all social activity.

To the socio-economic critique of capitalism begun by Marx, Freud's psychoanalysis added an attack on the traditional values of bourgeois society and its institutions and the realities of socio-economic and psycho-sexual repression. It offered a means of liberation to attack inherited ideals, myths, and moral patterns, and provided the basis for a new practice of individual self-enlightenment and creation. Not until around 1955 did the links between psychoanalysis and Marxism become once again explicit and the discussion of the original Freudian Marxist themes of theorists like Reich, Fromnm, and Horkheimer take place in the works of Herbert Marcuse and younger writers such as Jiirgen Habermas and Reimut Reiche.









The perspective of Wilhelm Reich and others found its

most important postwar voice in the French review S'ocialisme ou Barbaric. The new left's interest in the ideas of the 1930s updated to our time includes the impact of automation and cybernation, which transform the relations between worker and machine and the nature of administration and knowledge of production; the growth of cities and the urbanization of the countryside; the disappearance of the peasant or the independent farmer class in the industrial countries; and the radicalization of the peasantry in the Third World. Along with these processes accompanying the transition from competitive capitalism into state capitalism there is a second revolution in the sphere of everyday life. 10 Characteristics of this transformation are the dissolution of the patriarchal family, the emancipation of youth and women, the liberation of sexuality, increased leisure, consumption, and the education of the proletarian masses.

An important element for the new left in this transformation of society is the idea of a fragmented struggle. Reich formulated in the 1930s that class contradiction expresses itself in actual class struggle indirectly. 11 Revolutionary struggle is diffuse as well as specifically directed. It is expressed throughout the various cultural spheres and institutional contexts in specific conflicts



10 Brown, pp. 149-50; 178-79.

11 Brown, pp. 135-36; 143.









and transformations of individuals.rather than in a direct opposition of capital and labor. Therefore, the struggle of the proletarians to liberate themselves effectively from class domination requires not only an assault on the power of capital but also a concept and practice of cultural revolution and psychological self-liberation. Political work is seen as necessarily going beyond propagandistic criticism of existing society to take on a constructive aspect. It is sought to cause a coming-to-consciousness within different groups through a process of confronting different concrete problems in the interests of a struggle for the self-organization of different aspects of daily life.

According to the new leftists, in the face of worldwide organization of repression, the reemergence of opposition has had to begin with a return to the basic reassertion of differentiation --that is, the contestation launched outside of the established "apparatus" and conducted in the name of racial, cultural, linguistic, and sexual particularism. 12 Therefore the developments revolutionary movements, both in the Third World and among the colonized minorities of the metropolitan countries, are fought in the name of national independence and ethnic solidarity, and not proletarian internationalism. The politicization of youth and women and blacks in the industrial West has taken



12 Brown, pp. 192; 196-97.









place through a process of refusing pseudouniversal ideologies in the name of revolutionary particularism. From the new leftists' point of view we no longer have a generalized conception of a civilization capable of inspiring a unified individual to revolt. Instead, we have a many-sided revolutionary praxis, carried on simultaneously at every level and consisting of a multiplicity of projects, each creating new institutions, new identities, and new organs of direct democracy.

What was called cultural revolution in the 1960s was

the reinvigoration of the endeavors launched by past generations of revolutionaries. New problems posed by the contemporary world crisis were taken up by the struggles associated with the idea of a new left and posed by it on a level which was largely limited to the aesthetic or imaginary realm. These included reappropriating the integrity of our individual and social dimensions through the release of suppressed creative needs and passions by the liberation of language, and the reassertion of the modes of communication which have been suppressed.

At the height of the new left movement's initial burst of enthusiasm during the late 1960s, it had seemed that cultural and political radicalism could be united in the same effort. In the aftermath of repression and disappointed hope, however, disillusionment set in and this unity was broken, leaving the political radicals with their ideological slogans and organizations, and the cultural










revolutionaries convinced that organized work was a waste of time. The disagreement and disappointment concerning the relationship between culture and politics were particularly visible in what happened to the popular theater movement in France.



Class Struggle, Structure, Ideology

In the French context Louis Althusser, a member of the Communist Party, renewed interest in Marx by applying a structuralist approach to Marxist theories and to literary criticism. Among other works he published "Comment lire 'Le Capital' (1965), Pour Marx (1966), and L~nine et la philosophie (1969) in the 1960s.

Althusser considers The Capital (Marx' critique of

capitalist economy and the basis for scientific socialism published in 1867) to still be relevant, since it illustrates the mechanism of bourgeois exploitation of the proletariat through increases in the hours of work, intensification of productivity and the cadence of work, decreases in salary, and unemployment. 13He believes The Capital. makes it possible for workers, salaried employees, managers,. and some intellectual "workers" such as teachers, researchers, engineers, technicians, doctors, architects, and



13 Louis Althusser, "Comment lire 'Le Capital'," in Positions (1'96*4-1975) (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1975), P. 158.










students to understand the mechanisms of capitalist society in order to orient themselves in the class struggle.

Updating Marx' ideas, Althusser states that capitalism functions without massacres in metropolitan countries, but in practice its methods of massacres and robbing is transferred to the Third World: Latin America, Africa, Asia7with a most recent example being seen in the massacres by Americans in Vietnam. 14He considers the case in Vietnam to mark a different phase, however, since people have learned to organize and defend themselves.

Althusser, as a Western Marxist, developed the ideas of Mao Tse-tung by theorizing about the importance of cultural struggle. In an essay entitled "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (1971) he states that it is not a question of opposing truth to ideology, but rather a question of analyzing particular ideological struggles; that is, the function of any particular system of representations. 1 These systems of representations are not simply a matter of ideas; they are systems of particular practices which produce them. These practices are organized on a political basis that has to be recognized and struggled against.

In the analysis of classical Marxist-Leninist theory, it was traditional to consider that the state possessed



14 Aithusser, "1commfert lire," pp. 50; 55; 58.


15 MacCabe, p. 65.










a number of repressive apparatuses (the police, the army) to maintain the control of the dominant class. Althusser's originality was to postulate that ideological state apparatuses maintained the dominance of the ruling class through noncoercive means by producing subjects willing to reproduce the relations of production. He considered the two most important state apparatuses in the cultural struggle to be education and the family.

Viewed by Althusser, the Marxist totality is a complex unity of separate and specific levels which may be relatively autonomous of each other within a given historical social formation. The essential point is that the Marxist totality is not to be understood as a simple. dialectic of essence (the economic base) versus the phenomena (the superstructure) where the latter is reducible to the former, but as a complex internally structured totality of various layers and levels interrelated in all sorts of relations of determination. 16The totality is asymmetrical and may be dominated by one of its elements.

Althusser's interpretation of history illustrates well his concept of the Marxist totality. According to him, history can be given content only by defining historical time as a specific form of existence of a social totality with structural levels of different temporalities in



16 Miriam Glucksmann, Structural'ist Analysis- in Contemporary Social Thought: A *Comparison of the Theories of Claude Levi-Strauss and Louis'Althusser (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul), 1974), p. 107.









relations of correspondence and noncorrespondence. 17 Different levels of the totality are considered to have their own time-scale related to their relative autonomy. These levels may be related to each other in different ways at different moments. The relationship between one social formation and the one that follows it is to be understood in terms of displacement rather than as the gradual unfolding of an innate development. Each element has its own history and time-scale and the resultant structure must be viewed as a more or less conjunctural unity of different and separate histories. There is no general time base or general conception of time which can comprehend this structural history. Althusser thus int roduces a flexible analysis of the social formation which conceives of different types of internal relationships between its elements. From a Marxist point of view he continues Lenin and Gramsci's critique of academicism and determinism, and elaborates an understanding of the relationship between theoretical and political practice.

Althusser believes that theory is part of the structure of forces that men can use politically to change the world in a revolutionary way. This relationship between theoretical and political practice can be illustrated by discussing his article on materialist theater which includes a structuralist analysis of Brecht's use of distancing



17 Glucksmann, p. 109.









18
effects. In this article Althusser speaks of a latent asymmetrical-critical structure in Brecht's plays Mother Courage and Galileo. The dynamic force of this latent structure, which consists of the coexistence without any explicit relation of a dialectical temporality and a nondialectical temporality, is the basis for a critique of the illusions of consciousness. In Mother Courage, the war is opposed to the personal tragedies of her blindness; in Galileo, history is slower than consciousness impatient for the truth. The silent confrontation of a consciousness with a reality which is indifferent makes possible a critique of the illusions of consciousness. According to Althusser, it is not the dialogue of the play which produces this critique, but the internal balances and imbalances of forces between the elements of the play's structure.

Althusser thinks consciousness does not accede to

reality through its own internal development, but through 19
the discovery of what is other than itself. For this reason be believes Brecht overcame a problematic aspect of the classical theater when he excluded any pretentions to self-recovery and self-representation in the consciousness of self in a hero. Classical theater was inclined to



18 Louis Althusser, "Le Piccolo Bertolazzi et Brecht: notes sur un th6&tre mat6rialiste," in Pour Marx (Paris: Maspero, 1965), p. 142, 145-48.

19 Althusser, Pour Marx, p. 144.









represent itself and recognize itself in an uncritical theater whose ideological material presupposed the formal conditions for an aesthetic of the consciousness of self as an identification with the hero. The themes of the classical theater (politics, morality, religion, honor, glory, passion) are ideological themes. This uncriticized ideology is, in fact, the myths in which a society can recognize itself, and the mirror it must break if it is to know itself.

Brecht's principal aim is to produce a critique of the spontaneous ideology in which men live. 20 The dynamic force of the latent structure in Brecht's plays results from the relationship existing between the consciousness of self alienated in spontaneous ideology (mother Courage and her sons) and the real conditions of their existence (war, society). This relationship can only be acted and represented as characters, with their gestures, acts, and story working as structural elements in a play.

According to Althusser, the distance achieved by the structure of Brecht's great plays-is simply an active and living critique. 21 The play is actually the development and the production of a new consciousness in the spectator, who after the end of the performance starts to act and complete the play in real life.



20 Althusser, Pour Marx, p, 145.


21 Althusser., Pour Marx, p. 151.










In the 1960s the rise of structuralism was the distinguishing feature in philosophy and methodology. "Structuralism" does not designate a philosophical thesis, but points to the use of the notion of a structure as a tool, a method, or an explanatory category. The term "structure" was taken from linguistics and mathematics. The important impact of linguistics on philosophy occurred in conjunction with the rise in structuralism. Attention was directed toward language as a structure and as the production of knowledge.

Jacques Lacan, who bases his work on a reinterpretation of Freud, first published some of his famous seminars in a large volume entitled Ecrits (1966). Lacan thinks the unconscious is structured and its structures manifest themselves in its "language" (dreams, slips of the tongue, jokes). These structures, he believes, must be interpreted according to the techniques of modern linguistics. A quotation from his lecture "De la jouissance" illustrates how he relates the structure of language and the expression of sex.


Tout ce qui s'est articul6 de l'etre suppose qu'on puisse se refuser au predicat et dire l'homme est
par exemple sans dire quoi. Ce qu'il en est de l'tre
est 4troitement reli6 ' cette section du pr~dicat.
Des lors, rien ne peut en 6tre dit sinon par des
detours en impasse, des demonstrations d'impossibilit4 logique, par oi aucun pr6dicat ne suffit. Ce
qui est de l'8tre, d'un 8tre qui se poserait comme
absolu, n'est jamais que la fracture, la cassure,










l'interruption de la formule 6tre sexud en tant que
l'tre sexu. est intdressd dansla jou-issance.22


Claude L6vi-Strauss uses linguistics and its structural method to account for various systems of marriage and kinship; he asserts there is a close analogy between language structures and kinship relations. In his Le Cru et le cuit (1964), his sequence on mythologies, he researches the structure of myths. Believing in the invariability of mental structure, he concentrates on synchronic descriptions and explanations.

Opposition to the structuralists has come from Marxists like Henri Lefebvre who stress the importance of the individual in a diachronic, linear view of history. During the 1960s Lefebvre analyzed the concept of ideologies and how they function in relation to culture. In his Le Langage et la socidtd (1966) he gives the following definition of an ideology:


Une ideologie comprend toujours - que son agent
d'dlaboration ou d'utilisation soit un groupe, une
classe ou une nation - plusieurs aspects: representation de soi pour soi, representation de soi
pour les autres. Plusieurs images s'entrecroisent:
image du monde, image de la socidt6, image de l'homme.
Et cela & travers quelque chose de partiel (qui se
veut total) et de partiel (que se dit vrai): l'iddologie. Avec une tendance a la coherence, et m~me &



22
Jacques Lacan, Le Sdminaire de Jacques Lacan, ed. Jacques-Alain Miller (Paris: Seuil, 1975), p. 16.











la systematisation, ce qui n'exclut Ps les contradictions, voire les incoherences.


From the viewpoint of sociology, Lefebvre believes ideologies are essential elements of cultures and civilizations. Yet, in his L'Id6ologie structuraliste (1971), he views structuralist ideology as being the harmful ideology of 24
those in power between 1960 and 1970. In his opinion the approach of the structuralists neglected real processes and real problems in the society.

Although the intelligentsia in France are on the left, it is often the right which filters the ideas of the left to adopt them to the existing social relations. In the case of structuralist thought Lefebvre views the retreat of intellectual thought towards the archeology of social sciences, that is the return to primitive cultures, as a means of escaping the present by finding the actual time in the archaic. By doing this, intellectuals indirectly disavowed the aspirations of the Third World. Lefebvre also thinks the attempts to try and "structure" the modern society by such means as the coupure 6pistemologique and other mental concepts worked to conserve the established order. Concerning many structuralists preoccupations with language



23 Henri Lefebvre, Le Langage et la Soci4t6 (Paris: Gallimard, 1966), p. 321.

24 Henri Lefebvre, L'Id4ologie structuraliste (Paris: Anthropos, 1971, pp. 10-11.










Lefebvre notes:


Effectivement, des que nous y pensons, le fait d'etre pris dans un systeme a la fois opaque et translucide, le langage, et de ne pas pouvoir en sortir, n'est-il
pas angoissant? Ii y a un syst~me,ou le Systeme.
Sous le langage, un abime, une beance. La-dessus
l'horizon desert. Le langage n'a pas de r~f~rentiel.
Ii ne renvoie 'a rien d'autre, ni au reel, ni ' l'homme, ni ' l'oeuvre ou ' telle ogvre, ni au
quotidien ou bien au non-quotidien.


He also does not like the premise of proposing a model, a mental construction, be it methodological or epistemological, which is supposed to eliminate from the actual world many illusions and appearances as well as the individual, the subject as discourse. Such action affirms the identity of that which is real and intelligible to be in the system. From a mental concept one jumps to a social reality and to a normalization of this reality.

In his Au-del& du structuralism (1971) Lefebvre gives a long, excellent description of his interpretation of the evolution of the bourgeois class in relation to its ideol26
ogy. Leftist writers in France view bourgeois ideology as the dominant ideology in French society. Since much of the contestation of the left is directed against the bourgeois class and the idea leftists have of bourgeois ideology, it



25 Lefebvre, L'Id60ologie structuraliste, pp. 71-72.

26 Henri Lefebvre, Au-dela. du structuralism (Paris: Anthropos, 1971, pp. 170-92.









is important to summarize some of Lefebvre's main conclusions. According to him, the old style of the bourgeoisie which created its own world within the home and the family no longer exists. The bourgeoisie was forced to enlarge its horizons to the whole world in order to reaffirm its position. In doing so, it imposed its own norms on French society. The moral tradition of the bourgeoisie continues to propose the family as the norm and model of social life. The family is the source of virtues, values, regular behavior and regulating behavior. But in order to adapt to modern conditions, the bourgeoisie accommodated itself with immorality. Crimes, adulterous love, and homosexuality were reduced to aberrations of bourgeois moral attitudes. In this way the bourgeoisie succeeded in gaining a large segment of the society to accept its ideology. Consequently its moral tradition could be used as an ideological instrument.

The bourgeoisie's fear began in 1918, and continued in 1936 (The Popular Front), in 1945 (the Liberation), and in 1958. Each time the bourgeoisie succeeded, in the name of morals and esthetics, in neutralizing and capturing the surge of revolutionary ideas, and in adapting to the new era. The bourgeoisie continually installed and imposed its moral order after each revolutionary period. The concept of this moral order is both ethical and political. Through the moral order, the political power imposes a social order which suits it. It permits various moral










attitudes to exist on the condition that they do not serve

the opposition. This moral order contains in it the negation of morality under the guise of official public morals.

In this way an ideology in which no one believes evolved

into official virtues which emphasize the "values" of integration and adaptation, and regulate behavior on a global

scale in the society. This ideology, which presents modes

and patterns of behavior rather than symbolic images, is

described by Lefebvre in the following way:


Cette ideologie comporte une part d'utopie, mais une utopie tres particuliere: la conservation de
l'existant et de la stability consider6e comme indefiniment possible et comme infiniment souhaitable. . . . Il enveloppe une apologie du normal
et du sain, par opposition au malsain et ' l'anormal,
avec des techniques et recettes pour obtenir la
morality sociale et individuelle. On l'obtient par
l'adaptation et l'int~gration, par l'adoption de
conduites regulatrices, par l'acception des
moduless" et patterns. Plusieurs mythes consacrent
les conditions de la stability: comme dans l'Etat existant, plenitude de la personnalitd des chefs,
serenit6 des responsables 7 aptitude des comp~tents,
souverainetd des experts.


Lefebvre changes around the structuralists' idea of the 28
end of history and gives it a different meaning. For him

the end of history as appearance and as a philosophy which

justifies the legitimacy of the appearance of the bourgeoisie



27"
Lefebvre, Au-del. du structuralisme,p. 175.

28 Andr6 Vachet,"De-la fin de l'histoire A l'analyse diff~rentielle - La Rdvolution urbaine (les derniers ouvrages d'Henri Lefebvre)," Dialogue, 11, 3 (Sept. 1972), 403.









permits the revelation of "being." In this instance imagination, chance, and the unforeseen are restored as an opening toward the unlimited possibilities of man to act uponhimself and nature. Lefebvre means here especially the interpretation of history as a cultural or political (ideological) system.

The problem of "getting out" of history, or the dominant ideology's idea of history, and of inverting the constituted system should be dealt with by an urban revolution. It is the urban section which will perhaps make it possible for a new humanism to succeed the death of man achieved by the industrial society and its bureaucratic society of consumers. 29 As defined by Lefebvre, the urban revolution implies a reversing or transforming of all social structures and relations in the society, and the destruction of power. The urban revolution will destroy obstacles which reduce differences to particularities and which mask the different ways of living in an urban society.

In many respects Lefebvre's ideas coincide with those of the new left. According to him the idea of liberal pluralism focuses attention on particularities, not differences. In this way it reflects them as being unimportant in relation to the homogeneity, should such particularities present a menace to the continuation of the order,



29 Vachet, pp. 414-18.









politics, and values of the established system. 30Thus the idea of pluralism can take the form of repression and imperialism. The principle of difference, however, is a means of choosing resistance as an alternative. It introduces the unlimited aspect of what is possible and makes possible the reversal of the established order. For this reason differential thought, as opposed to pluralistic, is naturally revolutionary.

Politically this means auto-gestion, beginning from production, and the disappearance of the state. This auto-ge'stion signifies that ultimately the urban revolution and concrete democracy develop at the same time. It also entails a radical critique of ideologies, specialized sciences, and specialized politics.

To fill the gap between intellectual theory and social praxis Lefebvre introduces the term trans Iductio In.3 Transduction means the elaboration of a theoretical object, a possible object, from information about reality and the problem posed by this reality. The result is an experimental utopia, that is the exploration of the human possibility with the aid of the imagination accompanied by an incessant critique and continual reference to a given problem in reality. Lefebvre believes in this way philosophy will be



30 Vachet, p. 410.


31 Vachet, p. 419.










able to regain its modernism and play an essential role in an urban revolution which attempts to achieve the realization of man.

In the 1970s a group of young intellectuals known as the nouveaux philosophes attacked Marxism as an obsolete ideology that inevitably leads to totalitarianism. 32One of the best known of the new philosophers is Bernard-Henri L~vy, an editor at the Paris publishing house Grasset. He attacks the promises of Marxism as being empty and the revolution as being a myth because the Soviet Union instead of withering away grew into a reactionary machine. Andre' Glucksmann, another new philosopher, believes ideology itself is inherently evil and that all the philosophical systems of the 19th century are outdated because in the modern world politics do not revolve around visions of utopia, but rather around specific issues such as colonial crimes, life in prisons, the drug problem, and the threat of nuclear plants. Jean-Marie Benoit likewise believes politics in the future will be more fluid, a world of small cells of people coalescing on issues that affect them such as problem-oriented groups related to women's liberation and human rights movements. The ideas of the new philosophers appear to be a critical response to many ideas of the new



32 " The New Philosophers,"'Time, 12 Sept. 1977, p. 29, cols. 1-3; p. 30, cols. 1-3.










left. As a result of the events of May 1968 they have a more pessimistic view of the possibilities of political action.

Right-wing thinkers also challenged the ideas of the new left. The "new" right elitist philosophy of the 1970s is a rejection of Rousseauist egalitarianism and the demo33
cratic ideals that follow from it. New rightists look to pagan and Indo-European cultures for alternative social models. The philosopher Alain de Benoist, a founder of the new rightist movement, believes that individuals and races are divided by barriers of hereditary inequality. He therefore calls for a "meritocratic" society in which the ablest and most intelligent would rule. As a reaction to the events of May 1968, Benoist and a number of rightists organized a counterrevolutionary society called Research and Study Group on European Civilization (GRECE). In 1974 GRECE member Yvan Blot, with fellow students at the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, formed the Club de l'Horloge (Clock Club), a lobby group that promotes such rightist issues as racism, eugenics, and Nietzschean ethics. Blot is a high-ranking official in the neo-Gaullist party, the Rassemblement pour la R~publique. The new rightist journalist Louis Pauwels edits the weekend supplement to the



"A New Right raises its Voice: Science and Paganism at the service of a Reactionary Doctrine," Time, 13 August 1979, p. 31, cols. 1-3.






76


Parisian daily Le Figaro. He appointed Benoist the magazine's culture editor. Obviously the cultural movement of the new right is a form of political activism.
















CHAPTER IV

POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ACTION IN FRANCE UNDER DE GAULLE


.De 'Gaulle

The disintegration of civilian authority in Algiers was the cause of the return of General de Gaulle to power in France. By May 1958, after more than three years of fighting, the supporters of the Algerian war had lost their majority in parliament. Pierre Pflimlin, the Christian Democrat nominated for the premiership, was known to oppose an escalation of the war by an invasion of Tunisia and was suspected of favoring an attempt to negotiate with the nationals. In an effort to frighten parliament out of nominating Pflimlin, the Algiers settlers rioted, took over the Government House with help from the army, and persuaded General Massu to set up a Committee of Public Safety.

Thirty-six hours later, General Salan in Algeria launched a public appeal to de Gaulle which received an immediate response. On 15 May 1958 de Gaulle announced his readiness to take over the government authority.

on 24 May 1958 a small group of parachutists seized Corsica for the Gaullists without encountering any resistance from the authorities or the population. After private negotiations between Pflimlin and de Gaulle, the premier









resigned on May 28th. De Gaulle obtained temporary powers from parliament to govern and legislate when on 1 June 1958 he was elected by a majority of a hundred, with the Comimunists, half the Socialists, and others such as Pierre Mend~s-France and Frangois Mittdrrant in the minority. In September 1958 a new constitution was approved which greatly strengthened the president's power. The president in France is elected by universal suffrage for seven years, he chooses the prime minister, he alone can dissolve the national assembly and submit laws passed by the parliament to a referendum; he has the right to pardon, to negotiate and ratify treaties, to conclude military agreements which do not require parliamentary ratification, and in exceptional circumstances he can assume all powers.

The terrorism of the OAS (Organisation de l'Armde :1

Secrbte began in Algiers in September 1958, and soon developed into indiscriminate attacks on Moslems and a scorchedearth policy. Terrorism spread to Paris with bomb attacks on the homes and offices of Gaullists or left-wing supporters of the FLN (Force de Libdration Nationale). Frenchmen demonstrating against OAS terrorism and the Algerian war met with police hostility. A turning point in public opinion occurred when eight Communist demonstrators were killed by police action at the Charonne subway station on 8 February 1962 during a demonstration against the OAS which had been organized by labor unions, The obsequies of the victimes became one of the largest left-wing demonstrations in Paris since









the Second World War, with 500,000 people marching to protest against the war and the police. on 19 March 1962 an agreement was signed with the FNL at Evian.

Having ended the Algerian war with the signing of the Evian treaty in 1962, de Gaulle turned his attention to international politics. 1He was able to initiate political action because the October 1962 referendum changed the election of the president to universal suffrage, thereby strengthening the president's position, and because as a result of the 1962 parliamentary elections in November, a coherent absolute majority to back Gaullist policies had been elected. This situation permitted de Gaulle to begin his politique de la grandeur in 1963. He opposed England's candidature for the Common Market, believing the English would serve American interests in Europe. He opposed the multilateral nuclear force proposed by the Americans for Europe and, instead, signed a Franco-German alliance and worked for closer ties with the U.S.S.R. . De Gaulle sought to gain for France an important place in world politics as a peacemaker between the two superpowers; Gaullist foreign policy worked to stimulate local nationalisms against the superpowers. For this reason de Gaulle sided with the Arabs in the Middle East War of June 1967 and spoke out for a Qu-6bec libre in July 1967.



1 Pierre.Viansson-Pont6, Histoire de la Rpublique'Gaullienne (Paris: Fayard, 1971), pp. 75; 77.










Yet on the French domestic scene there was political unrest the same year de Gaulle started his politique de la grandeur. The year 1963 was marked by the miners' union strike which became total. Railroad workers, electricians, and gas employees observed work stoppages in solidarity. The miners marched on Paris and the sympathy of the church authority and other categories of workers caused the government to back down and grant employees of the SNCF (Societe'

Nationale de Chemins de Fer) and the EDF (Electricit46 de France) pay raises.



Political Parties and Groups in France 1958-1968

France in the 1960s was still a fairly nonegalitarian society in which class divisions were rigid though often taken for granted. 2More even than the family, the schools and universities adhered to a formal, nonparticipatory authority structure. The educational system remained a barrier to greater equality and social mobility. Consequently, it is not surprising that the explosion of 1968 began in the universities and spread rapidly to many high schools.

Furthermore, in the 1960s political parties were not serving as an effective means for voicing opposition to government policies. The political parties were deeply



2 Philip M. Williams and Martin Harrison, Politics and Society in De Gaulle's Republic (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor Books, 1973), pp. 23-27.









discredited by the failure of the Fourth Republic and under de Gaulle even the Gaullist party had only a marginal role.3 The lessening of the ideological conflict, however, and the relative disaffection from the parties did not necessarily constitute depoliticization. Several of the older parties survived. Political interest seems to have been diverted rather than diminished. Energies and ideas which before might have found an outlet through political clubs or interest groups appeared outside the conventional political organizations, the giant demonstrations in 1962 against terrorism of the OAS, the direct action by groups like farmers, shopkeepers and craftsmen, and the manifestations and general strike of 1968 being examples.

The weak organization in political parties was also

found in the trade unions and was due in part to a fear of central direction.4 The unions in France are divided among five central organizations. Half the total membership is split between the CGC (Conf~d~ration g6ndrale des cadres - white collar and supervisory staffs' union), the socialist-leaning FO (Force-Ouvri~re - the trade union federation, mainly in public sector, which split from CGT in 1947), the CFDT (Conf~d~ration frangaise democratique du travail - trade union federation formed in 1964 from CFTC)



3 Williams and Harrison, p. 374.

4 Philip M. Williams, David Goldey, and Martin Harrison, French Politicians and Elections 1951-1969 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970), p. 288.









Catholic-leaning and the most militant of all the centrals, and the CFTC (Confederation frangaise des travailleurs chr~tiens - majority changed name to CFDT in 1964) which remains Catholic and conservative. The other half is the CGT (Confederation gengrale du travail, largest trade union federation - Communist dominated since 1945). The CGT retains its original confederate structure and part of its anarcho-syndicalist tradition as do also the FO and CFDT. This anarcho-syndicalist tradition is reflected in some of Gatti's plays, particularly Auguste G. and Chant public. Gatti at times rented a hall and read first versions of his plays to CGT groups during the 1960s.

Of all the major Western Communist parties, the PCF

(Parti Communiste Frangais) suffered most from the problems of destalinization which began after the Twentieth Communist Congress in 1956. The tensions in the party between Italian and Chinese alternatives were felt most acutely among intellectuals and students of the Union des Etudiants Communistes (UEC), which had also been penetrated by Trotskyites. In order to destroy the base of the Italian faction the party decided to disband the UEC; the largest faction reformed under the leadership of Alain Krivine in the Trotskyite Jeunesse Communiste R~volutionnaire (JCR). The party in this way cut itself off from the students, as it had previously alienated many intellectuals. Released from the discipline of the party by the disbanding of the UEC, its student members joined the JCR and FER (Fed6ration des









Etudiants Re'volutionnaires) another smaller Trotskyite organization and various Maoist groups. The most important of the latter was the Jeunesse Communiste Marxiste Le'niniste (JCML) .

The history of European Maoism was relatively shortlived and ceased to have much meaning by 1974 when La Gauche Prole'tarienne, a French Maoist group, dissolved itself.5 Its political significance disappeared with the failure of the revolutionary movements in the late 1960s in France and in Italy. When the split between Russia and China occurred in the early 1960s almost all other Communist parties split into a pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese faction. In Europe the pro-Chinese factions left or were expelled and founded new Communist movements. They showed their allegiance to Mao's teaching by adopting the adjective Marxist-Leninist to emphasize their continuity with the original revolutionary politics of the party. The Sino-Soviet split occurred because the Chinese refused to accept the Soviet doctrine of peaceful coexistence. The Chinese viewed this doctrine as a refusal to face the realities of revolutionary struggle. They denounced it as a new form of imperialism, social imperialism, in which the Russians and Americans split the world into spheres of influence that they controlled. The stress on national independence from the superpowers went together with support for the Third World against the



5MacCabe, p. 55.









developed world whose forms of aid, both Western and Eastern, were viewed as trapping the underdeveloped countries in the position of client states. From this political position it was theorized that the fundamental contradiction in the contemporary world was not that between capital and proletariat but that between the developed and the underdeveloped countries.

In the West, the stress on the importance of personal life-styles in determining the revolutionary potential of a party or country was the most important feature of Maoism. In the Western countries communist militants could express

their distrust of bourgeois life-styles by setting upMarxistLeninist parties that would break with bourgeois forms at every level of life. This stress on the daily struggle between the bourgeois and proletarian line in one's life subverted the form of the political and included within its sphere every aspect of life. However, it also threatened to reduce all aspects of life to the political which proved to be the main weakness in Leninist politics.

Mao drew on two Leninist ideas, self-criticism and

cultural revolution. 6 The key Maoist concept was cultural revolution. This concept had been advanced by Lenin towards the end of his life to cope with the problem that the political seizure of the state and the economic reorganization



6 MacCabe, p. 57.









of the means of production were not enoughto abolish classes or class struggle. Lenin attempted to deal with the problem by talking of the necessity for a cultural revolution which would take ideological power from the bourgeoisie. This idea, however, was never fully developed by him.

In the 1960s the historical mission of the working

class to revolt in order to liberate all mankind by liberating itself was transferred to the proletarian countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The fixation on Cuba, Algeria, North Vietnam or China found supporters among leftist Cahtolics. 7 The missionary tradition of the French Church had sensitized it to the problem of decolonization through its experience in Asia and Africa, and then to the economic and social problems of the underdeveloped countries in South America. Difficulties in some of the women's orders and the revival of the worker priest movement testified to this unrest. The Church like the PCF was finding its moral authority questioned from the left by its own members. The rejection of capitalism on grounds of Catholic social theory and interest in the-Third World created support for the new left and hostility toward U.S. actions in Vietnam. Several Catholic student militants were among the first to be arrested in May 1968.



7 Williams et al., p. 246.









Vietnam in the Third World provided the Trotskyite and the Chinese factions with an argument against the official Communists. It seemed to show that if the most powerful nation in the world could be beaten by a small but determined people, revolution elsewhere was possible. Vietnam also provided the occasion for confrontation with the university and the police, and sympathy and support from students which the political factions would probably otherwise not have had. For example, the Comite's Viet-Nam de Base were set up to collect a billion francs to buy a hospital ship for North Vietnam. Catholics and PSU (Parti Socialiste Unifi6 left-wing socialist party) members actively participated in various Vietnam solidarity committees which effectively established a network of organization.

The campaign against the Vietnam war occurred in conjunction with the campaign against the new university campus on the northwestern part of Paris at Nanterre. In May 1968 the spark which touched off the conflict was harsh police action against a student demonstration. A few student revolutionaries from the Nanterre campus, including Cohn Bendit, were being disciplined by the Rector.of Paris University.

More students protested in the courtyard of the Sorbonne The police were called to expel them, thousands of students gathered to demonstrate and many were arrested. Night after night in May students and riot police fought each other across barricades in the Latin Quarter. Thousands of

students were injured or arrested. Outside Paris, students









occupied universities and demanded greater autonomy for universities from Parisian control, and greater student participation. The unrest then spread to the workers. By the third week in May over half the industrial labor force was on strike and hundreds of factories were occupied by the workers. After a long silence, 6e Gaulle's address to the nation on May 24th called for a referendum in June on reform of the universities and participation by workers (co-g'estion) in the economy. The public voted against it.

Workers had declared a general strike because they

shared some of the students' complaints against the system and had grievances of their own. In 1967 the workers were

-forced to accept an increase in social security contributions to help pay for the farmers brought into it by a previous

extension of the system. These increases were imposed by administrative decree without discussion in parliament. The rapid modernization of the country had brought some unemployment in certain sectors and workers suspected that the Budget and the Plan had allowed for more unemployment than necessary so that while holding down inflation and reducing tariff barriers in the Common Market, de Gaulle could accumulate gold and develop the H-Bomb. In the private sector there was unemployment; in the public sector wages were held down as part of the stabilization plan, the minimum wage varied from region to region and had lagged behind the cost of living.










Malraux and Gaullist Cultural Policies

As students moved from trying to reform their universities to attempting to revolutionize society, Andre Malraux explained to a large Gaullist rally at the Porte de Versailles on 21 June 1968 that the May events really represented a crisis of Western civilization. The Gaullist campaign theme was the defense of the Republic and the liberty of its citizens from anarchy and the Communist danger.

Earlier in 1968, Malraux had angered film directors

when his Ministry dismissed Henri Langlois, the founder of the Cinematheque Frangaise. Pierre Barbia, immediately after he was appointed to replace Langlois, fired the Cin~mathaque's sixty employees. Within hours Godard, Truffaut, Resnais, Marker, Bresson, and Renoir announced that because Langlois was dismissed they would refuse to allow their films to be shown at the Cindmath~que. Paris producers, actors, and directors held protest demonstrations which were violently broken up by the police. They also picketed the cinema. With criticism being voiced even among the government's supporters, Malraux could not justify the action of his Ministry. Consequently he agreed to grant the Cindmathbque independence from state control on stringent financial terms and to reinstate Langlois.

Andrd Malraux was the key person in the state apparatus in charge of cultural policy in the 1960s. In 1945 he had been asked to join de Gaulle's circle of supporters









to deal with the group's relations with intellectuals, projects for a political program for culture, and opinion polls.8 On various occasions he stated his intention to make Frenchmen aware of the important role he himself assigned to culture., He wanted to oppose culture to what he described as factories of dreams: theater, film, television, the press, and a certain type of literature which he interpreted as playing on the power of instincts such as sex, blood, and death. Once having been appointed Minister of Cultural Affairs by de Gaulle in 1959, Malraux presented his projects, to the Senate.

Under Malraux's direction important projects were accomplished: the maisons de la culture, the protection of historical sites, the installation of statues by Maillol in the Tuileries, the cleaning of the facades of Parisian monuments, the organization of huge expositions, and the decentralization of theaters. At the same time Malraux was actively involved in politics. In October 1962 he became a patron of the Association pour la Cinqui~me Rdpublique, a movement which united various Gaullist groups. He defended the diverse Gaullist positions which were taken successively from 1959 to 1962. Until 1962 his speeches concentrated on the problem of Algeria. After 1962 he used his energy to defend the government against opposition political parties



8 Janine Mossuz, Andr6 Malraux et le Gaullisme (Paris: Armand Colin, 1970), pp. 70, 167; 180; 193; 285,









and to build unity within the Gaullist organizations. Furthermore, Malraux was one of the principal authors of the large Gaullist meetings for presidential and legislative campaigns which took place in Paris on 15 December 1965, 21 January 1967, and 20 June 1968 and were known for their spectacular effect and orchestration.

In the framework of the Gaullist party, Malraux interpreted the mission of France to be the creation of a Eurafrica which would equilibrate the strength of the two. superpowers. The role assigned to France was that of an essential player on a global scale where the principal actors were civilizations. Culture and particularly the culture of France was viewed as a motivating force of evolution. The role Malraux assigned to culture gradually became more precise and was eventually formulated as the great unifying myth which would make all the inhabitants of the earth an immense fraternity. Gaullism gave him the sufficient support necessary to present culture as the great force of union which he believed had been hidden until then by ideologies and religions.


Cultural Action

The political debate about the role of cultures and the role of the intellectual continued throughout the 1960S. Pierre Gaudibert in his-Action culturelle: integration et/ou subversion (1972) reviews the conflict between the animateurs and the government administrators which arose as a result of









differing conceptions of the role of culture in society. According to him, the purported progressive disappearance of ideologies to be replaced by a new and scientific rationalism was a new "ideology-mask-illusion" permitting some to devote themselves to Purely technical problems and actions beyond political and ideological options which, however, remained the key to the system of cultural action. 9

Reactionary citizens in local government used the

notion of "need" in dogmatic arguments concerning the interests of the populations, which they were supposed to represent, to oppose the politics of a maison de la culture or the choice of a director. In this way political and ideological opposition were hidden behind such euphemisms as the possibility of reception of the local population, their need for entertainment, the taste of the public. The

spontan6istes, who were against those who did not respect the free creation of subjects, entertained a similar illusion. Cultural demagogy can either claim the cultural needs of the masses, of the majority of the people (which generally means the petty bourgeoisie), or the spontaneity of individuals, the mechanism is the same because in both instances a virginity of free subjects who have escaped conditioning is assumed. Marxists and sociological critics worked to demystify these beliefs in order to show that freedom is



9Pierre Gaudibert, Action 'culturelle, integration
et/o'u subversion (Paris: Casterman, 1972), pp. 17; 20-21; 27.










illusory and access to cultural places is regulated by real inequalities which are themselves dependent upon the relationship in a given social formation.

According to Gaudibert what actually happened in the

1960s is that one envisaged successively la'd6mocratisation culturelle, le salut culturel, and la religion culturelle. All these labels were divers idealist variants used to mask a cultural action whose aim was to justify and reenforge the cultural practice of integration. During this period the fundamental idea changed from a culture that issued from the experience of the people and their values, to a culture that was distributed to all. In 1945 the slogan had been "rendre la culture au peuple et le peuple 'a la culture." 10 It had not been a question of proletarian culture or of revolutionary proletarian culture, but of social progress characterized by the Popular Front. The notion of le peuple still designated the workers and the peasants as a united people and nation. In the 1950s, the idea of cultural diffusion was to raise the cultural level of the working classes, efforts which were in agreement with the action of the union and worker committees in enterprises. In a second phase that began in the 1960s, the concepts of development and cultural action became closely related. The concept of the participation of all citizens in the existing cultural values occurred, and active adherents in the teaching



10 Gaudibert, pp. 36-37.




Full Text
163
Pentagon officials a battle he witnessed in Vietnam. The
action switches to the raised platform where three Viet
namese are watching the same battle the journalist is des
cribing. They also notice, as did Weil Junior, an old pea
sant who continues to plow his field while the battle rages
around him. Unimpressed by the journalist's opinion about
the war or the Vietnamese, Quatrature continues to organize
the military maneuvers codenamed "Lance d'Argent," which
he believes will be the beginning of the United States'
entry into "hyperhistory."
Quadtafcre's idea of relying entirely on a striking
force led by troops in helicopters would reduce the impor
tance of the marines. Therefore, a subplot develops where
by Bulldog tries to reduce the success of the maneuvers.
The subplot is used to point out the difference of opinion
between the military in the combat zone and the cerebral
civilians at the Pentagon. As Quadrature states:
[Gnral Bulldog], si vous rflchissez quelques
instants, vous vous apercevrez que vous ne dsirez
rien poser. Pour les marines pacifier c'est se
mler aux gens, leur apporter nos bienfaits de la
main la main (done prendre part a leur ralit) et
en consequence, tablir des contacts sentimentaux.
Etablir ce genre de contact c'est se laisser prendre
par le mecanisme de la guerre rvolutionnaire.
Gatti's play about Vietnam is not simply meant to refer to
the war in Vietnam, but also to similar wars where force is
Armand Gatti, V comme Vietnam (Paris: Seuil, 1967)
p. 13. All quotations in the text are from this edition.
/


135
intellectuals are actually in the service of the state and
that the dominant bourgeois society's injustice towards the
poor is an unconscious reflex for judges who come from the
bourgeois class.
To vary the action, speed up the tempo, and add to the
complexity of the play Gatti utilizes group movements of
group choruses. In Part III when the funeral of Auguste's
young wife is related, all the Augustes speak in chorus:
"Ce matin-la, le courage me manqua/ Je regardais autour de
moi sans comprendre/ Laurence tait morte ving-neuf ans."
(p. 82). Other characters besides the Augustes also res
pond simultaneously during this sequence. Changing the
groupings of characters on stage often intensifies the
visual presentation.
The set designs in Auguste G. are an intrinsic part of
the text. In Part IV characters appear in a large "empty"
screen. Like a giant roll of film it is indented along
the side and separated into frames. This setting once
again distances the action from the spectator. In addition
it recalls the theme of the revolution in Christian's film.
The film version presents a contrast with Auguste's actual
death. A large armed hand appears in one of the frames
and a shot is heard. The Black Baron falls down, as if
dead, and then the White Baron falls down. The film stops
as alarms and sirens create a "noise" interruption in the
play. Then Auguste states:


164
used to oppress a whole population. Gatti also wrote
plays about revolutionary movements in China (Un Homme seul,
Seuil, 1969), in Guatemala (La Naissanee, Seuil, 1967) in
Germany (Ros a Collective, Seuil, 1973) and in Spain (La Pas
sion du gnral Franco, Seuil, 1968). Furthermore, in the
quotation above Gatti implies the Korean War and the Alger
ian War during which some French soldiers sympathized with
the causes of the population they were sent to suppress.
The play is divided into twenty-nine episodes without
titles. This structure permits the fluidity necessary for
shifting the action to Vietnam or the Pentagon easily.
Gatti also uses these two simultaneous locations to intro
duce humorous elements in the play. He contrasts the
opinions of Pentagon officials with those of the Vietnamese.
For example, Dr. XXX explains that the village Kien Cuong
was converted into a hameau stratgique to protect vil
lagers and to protect a new air base for nuclear bombs.
The Vietnamese villager Tang introduces himself on the
platform and speaking directly to the audience expresses
his own opinion about the razing of the village to form a
hameau stratgique;
Je suis le paysan Nguyen Huu Tang... Avant la con
version de Kien Cuong en hameau stratgique, je
fournissais du ravitaillement aux hommes poursuivis
par Diem. Pourquoi? Parce que du temps du Viet-
minh on a ramen le taux de fermage a 25% de la
rcolfce relle. On a aboli la dette usuraire. On
a expropri les terres laisses en friche apparte-
nant aux collaborateurs. Nous avons considr ce
qu'on nous avait donn comme tant ntre. Mais la
rforme agraire amricaine l'a redonn l'ancien
propritaire, je me suis senti victime et j'ai


116
on the participation of the spectator in Gatti's plays,
Margaret Ellen Ward's dissertation on documentary theater,
and Annick Jourdan Duryce's dissertation on a new theater
for a new audience successfully establish the facts concern
ing Gatti's background and theatrical activities during the
1960s. Yet the relationship between his works and the
period in which they were produced has not been thoroughly
investigated. Since many French critics during the 1960s
regarded Gatti to be the French playwright the most likely
to create a new popular theater, their subsequent silence
about his plays after 1968 needs to be explained. Further
more the subjects of Gatti's plays, the structure of his
plays, and the techniques used to stage them are important
as indications of the changing trends in the political
movement in the French theater in the 1960s.
Armand Gatti was born in Monaco on 24 January 1924.
His father, who was a streetcleaner, died as a result of
injuries sustained during a strike. His mother, an
extremely religious woman, was a cleaning woman. His par
ents had immigrated to Monaco from Piedmont, Italy. At the
age of sixteen Gatti left Monaco to join the French Resis
tance in the region of Corrze. He was arrested and depor
ted to a work camp in Germany. After escaping from Germany
he went to London and enlisted as a parachutist with
un thtre nouveau pour un public nouveau (Diss.
Columbia, N.Y., 1971).


70
is important to summarize some of Lefebvre's main conclu
sions. According to him, the old style of the bourgeoisie
which created its own world within the home and the family
no longer exists. The bourgeoisie was forced to enlarge
its horizons to the whole world in order to reaffirm its
position. In doing so, it imposed its own norms on French
society. The moral tradition of the bourgeoisie continues
to propose the family as the norm and model of social life.
The family is the source of virtues, values, regular behav
ior and regulating behavior. But in order to adapt to
modern conditions, the bourgeoisie accommodated itself with
immorality. Crimes, adulterous love, and homosexuality
were reduced to aberrations of bourgeois moral attitudes.
In this way the bourgeoisie succeeded in gaining a large
segment of the society to accept its ideology. Conse
quently its moral tradition could be used as an ideological
instrument.
The bourgeoisie's fear began in 1918, and continued in
1936 (The Popular Front), in 1945 (the Liberation), and in
1958. Each time the bourgeoisie succeeded, in the name of
morals and esthetics, in neutralizing and capturing the
surge of revolutionary ideas, and in adapting to the new
era. The bourgeoisie continually installed and imposed
its moral order after each revolutionary period. The con
cept of this moral order is both ethical and political.
Through the moral order, the political power imposes a
social order which suits it. It permits various moral


126
to Auguste G. in the following way:
To add drama and depth to this life, I use theatrical
simultaneity. The stage then becomes a series of
phases in Auguste G.'s life. We see him at nine
years of age, at twenty, at thirty people emerge
from his past and his present. These people, con
stantly transformed, age-wise, fade in and out and
into one another on stage. Time and place are for
ever shifting throughout the drama.^
Furthermore, the playwright feels that Auguste G., because
of its structure, requires an entirely new concept of mise
en scene:
I say new because scenic or stage time is non
existent in my play. The usual theatrical time,
that is, clocktime, has been completely abolished.
The only time which exists in my play is flash time.
In other words, what audiences see are concrete
images: a series of flashes which last perhaps some
times but twelve seconds. This flash or simul
taneous time requires new structural theatrical
organization which differs from the one we know. We
call this type of theatrical conception non-linear
theater. ... In the theatre, these events and
scenes as I have conceived them must flow in rapid
succession so that the rhythmic effects created
by them are not lost and excitement is added to the
spectacle as a whole.3
Gatti frequently uses a simultaneous staging of events in
various space locations and at different time periods in
his plays.
Dorothy Knowles has traced the history of theatrical
experiments in simultaneity from the late 1920s to Gatti's
Knapp, p. 209.
Knapp, p. 210.


4
Populaire (TNP). The play received unfavorable reviews. It
was not until Roger Planchn's troupe of the Theatre de la
Cit at Villeurbanne staged Gatti's La Vie iinaginaire de
l'eboueur Auguste G. (1962) that Gatti was regarded as a
successful playwright. Throughout the 1960s Armand Gatti
and Roger Planchn were considered to be the two theater
people the most likely to succeed in creating a French pop
ular theater. Although Gatti was greatly influenced by
working with Planchn's troupe in 1962, and even used many
of Planchn's actors for the TNP production of his Chant
public devant deux chaises lectriques (1966), Planchon's
troupe never staged another play of Gatti's after the pre
sentation of Auguste G. Instead, the Grenier Thtre at
Toulouse, under the direction of Maurice Sarrazin, was
particularly willing to stage Gatti's plays. The TNP, under
the direction of Georges Wilson, staged Gatti's Chant public
and rehearsed his La Passion du gnral Franco which was
banned in December 1968 just before it was scheduled to
open.
Gatti's difficulties regarding the French government's
cultural policy arose because of the disagreement between
critics, government officials, and theater directors concern
ing the concept of popular theater, and because of the polit
ical themes in his plays. After the events of May 1968
Gatti continued to work with the troupe of actors known as
Gatti's "Tribu," dedicated to furthering their conception
of popular theater which included the active participation


63
relations of correspondence and noncorrespondence.
Different levels of the totality are considered to have their
own time-scale related to their relative autonomy. These
levels may be related to each other in different ways at
different moments. The relationship between one social for
mation and the one that follows it is to be understood in
terms of displacement rather than as the gradual unfolding
of an innate development. Each element has its own history
and time-scale and the resultant structure must be viewed as
a more or less conjunctural unity of different and separate
histories. There is no general time base or general concep
tion of time which can comprehend this structural history.
Althusser thus introduces a flexible analysis of the social
formation which conceives of different types of internal
relationships between its elements. From a Marxist point of
view he continues Lenin and Gramsci's critique of academicism
and determinism, and elaborates an understanding of the
relationship between theoretical and political practice.
Althusser believes that theory is part of the struc
ture of forces that men can use politically to change the
world in a revolutionary way. This relationship between
theoretical and political practice can be illustrated by
discussing his article on materialist theater which includes
a structuralist analysis of Brecht's use of distancing
17
Glucksmann, p. 109.


124
Gatti's episodes and character relationships knit the
action together; however, the spectator must piece frag
ments of information together from different scenes. From
Auguste's imagined life the spectator learns that Pauline,
Auguste's first love, left the working-class district called
La Vierge after winning a marathon dance contest. Laurence,
Auguste's wife, has had a love affair with (or at least is
loved by) Gamache, the apolitical foreman of the street-
cleaners who got Auguste his job with the sanitation depart
ment. Other'important relationships for Auguste are his
friend Roger Estribot, who also loved Pauline; other workers
at the sanitation department, who show cruelty toward one
another as do the neighbors in La Vierge; and Auguste's son
Christian. In Auguste's delirium Christian represents a
successful film director who portrays him as a worker who
furthered the cause of the revolution. Also important are
the Black Baron and the White Baron because they provide
episodes which relate Auguste's private life to his work
situation. The Black Baron represents societal taboos
whereas the White Baron, who appears1 in episodes of Auguste's
later life, symbolizes the repressive boss. Thus, the
spectator follows Auguste's emotional life: his feelings
of guilt when he and Pauline were discovered by the local
madman, the Black Baron, as they began to discover each
other sexually in a field, his despair at Pauline's disap
pearance and death in a fire (the circumstances of which
are diversely described by his various selves), his


206
hopes to popularize literature through price controls on
books and by opening more public libraries. Any mention of
popular theater is conspicuously lacking in the Socialist
program. It is very probable, however, that Socialist
government officials will run into controversies similar
to those experienced by the Gaullists and their cultural
policy.
Since Gatti*s activities and ideas reflect in some
respects the Socialist tradition in France, it is not sur
prising that the audio-visual section of the Ministry of
External Affairs, the new name of the Foreign Ministry, has
17
published a retrospective of Gatti's activities recently.
It is reasonable to assume that he may receive more state
funds to subsidize some of his projects. Nevertheless, it
is unlikely that Gatti will become institutionalized by the
Socialist regime. Along with Socialist ideas he has always
exemplified the strong anarchistic trait present in France
since the beginning of this century. He will most likely
continue to authentically represent the half of France not
usually heard from by treating themes dealing with global
problems in terms of political issues on the level of indi
viduals in their daily lives.
Ministre des Relations Extrieures Cellule
d'Animation Audio-Visuelle. Armahd Gatti; Une' Rtrospec-
tive, 1981.


112
The government's decreasing interest in the goals of
popular theater was linked to the politicization of the
popular theater movement. In 1972 the TNP moved from Paris
to Lyon where Roger Planchn's Thtre de la Cit was
transformed into the new Thtre National Populaire. In
the spring of 1973 Maurice Druon, the newly appointed Minis
ter of Culture, implied that theatrical subsidies would
be determined according to the content rather than the over
all quality of a troupe's work and that any project deemed
subversive would be rejected. He condemned bestiality,
perversion, sexuality, violence, vulgarity, anything which
countered the theatrical image of France as a source of
Western civilization. The "Druon affair" along with the
drastic cuts in funding (in March 1973 half of the members
of the Commission Consultative d'Aide aux Jeunes Animateurs
the committee which awards money to young theater groups
'resigned because of their frustration with the government's
hostility and indifference) proved the popular theater and
experimental theater would have to be done by unsubsidized
or marginally subsidized companies.


194
activities. He has attempted various experiments in what
he calls "collective writing" with nontheater people.
These projects include the theater and video films, some of
which have been aired on French Television.
In 1970 Gatti wrote a play which was read to many dif
ferent groups around France. The comments of those who
listened to the play were incorporated in the second writing
of the play entitled Le Chat Sauvage. It has not been pub-
7
lished. In 1974, Gatti attempted a more radical type of
collective writing in the Brabant Wallon, a rural area of
Belgium. He and a group of students from the Institut des
Arts de Diffusion of Louvain spent several months in villages
g
in the area. The idea was to establish relations with the
local people and then let them express themselves. Com
mittees of peasants, of old people, and of teenagers were
set up to write and rehearse sketches and musical comedies.
All this work culminated in a twenty-eight hour show with
3,000 persons in the area participating in some way in the
production. The performance area was composed of 125
vehicles, among them several tractors with platforms, which
traveled over twenty-five miles' during the course of the
performance. Different sketches were performed simultaneously.
7
Ministre des Relations Extrieures Cellule d'Ani
mation Audio-Visuelle, Armand Gatti: une retrospective (Paris:
ANALEPH, 1981). An updated bibliography of Gatti's theater
and film activities is found on pp. 32-33.
8
Kourilsky and Champagne, p. 44.


179
(superbe, certes) la-prise-de-conscience-de-son-tat-de
soleil?" (p. 37). This of course is an indirect reference
to the idea of the working class becoming aware of its his
torical situation. Paumier adds, "Ses preferences sur
l'habitat (si toujours il les exprime) risque d'tre tres
anarchiques" (p. 38). Gatti means that workers who actually
live in government-built houses are not asked their opinion
by architects and city planners. The obvious suggestion of
the playwright is that they should be asked.
Gatti also criticizes sociological studies that com
pile statistics about social problems without taking into
consideration the human, individual qualities of men and
women. The committee studying man uses salaries as the
basis for their programmed statistics, thereby classifying
men by what they earn. This committee finds that man's
virility is represented only by the rugby matches he watches
on television and the car he drives, which acts as a sexe de
remplacement (p. 43). The committee studying woman uses per
forated cards to classify women into the following cate
gories: Femme mystifie, femme dmystifie, femme libere,
femme colonisee, courrier du coeur, la femme et la pilule,
la femme avec la machine a layer et le mixer, and the ter-
nel fminin (p. 40) .
In Auguste G., Chant publique, and V comme Vietnam
Gatti uses the advertising style to criticize big business.
In Treize Soleils he uses this style to criticize a con
sumer society made up of individuals preoccupied with a


152
suggests, this play is longer than Auguste G. and includes
more episodes. Perhaps this length symbolizes the long
death wait of the anarchists in jail. The play opens with
"Une mesure pour rien" which summarizes poetically what
will happen in the play. Throughout the play songs vary
the presentation of information, summarize the action,
and sometimes serve to interrupt it as do Brecht's didactic
songs in his plays.
The critic Bertrand Poirot-Delpech describes Chant
public as a play difficult to follow since the concepts of
time, space and objectivity are eliminated. Nevertheless
he thinks the play opens perspectives worth exploring and
he judges:
C'est la premire fois que le thtre cherche
approcher, non plus la vrit d'un vnement, mais
la ralit impalpable de son retenvissement possible
hors du temps et de l'espace o il s'est produit.
C'est la premiere fois qu'un drame vcu est exclu-
sivement restitu par ce qui le continue dans les
mmoires, les hontes ou les rvoltes de ses
survivants.17
Renee Saurel also remarks that the play is confusing at
18
times. Yet she views it as an attempt to create a new
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, "Chant public devant deux
chaises lectriques," in Au soir le soir (Paris: Mercure
de France, 1969), pp. 187-88.
18
Rene Saurel, "Sur la colline aux cerises, 'Chant
public devant deux chaises lectriques' d'Armand Gatti au
T.N.P.," Les Temps Modernes, 238 (1966), pp. 1671-72.


92
illusory and access to cultural places is regulated by real
inequalities which are themselves dependent upon the
4 relationship in a given social formation.
According to Gaudibert what actually happened in the
1960s is that one envisaged successively la democrat!sation
culturelle, le salut culturel, and la religion culturelle.
All these labels were divers idealist variants used to
mask a cultural action whose aim was to justify and reenforpe
the cultural practice of integration. During this period
the fundamental idea changed from a culture that issued from
the experience of the people and their values, to a culture
that was distributed to all. In 1945 the slogan had been
"rendre la culture au peuple et le peuple a la culture.
It had not been a question of proletarian culture or of
revolutionary proletarian culture, but of social progress
characterized by the Popular Front. The notion of le peuple
still designated the workers and the peasants as a united
people and nation. In the 1950s, the idea of cultural
diffusion was to raise the cultural level of the working
classes, efforts which were in agreement with the action of
the union and worker committees in enterprises. In a second
phase that began in the 1960s, the concepts of development
and cultural action became closely related. The concept of
the participation of all citizens in the existing cultural
values occurred, and active adherents in the teaching
10
Gaudibert, pp. 36-37.


203
by techniques which fragmented the theatrical text and the
presentation.
Writers connected with the popular theater searched
for new theatrical formats and experimented with different
styles of presentation. Almost all abandoned the division
of plays into acts and scenes, usually preferring tableau
sequences. A good deal of their experimentation was purely
technical. Staging devices such as films, posters, lumi
nous signs, blinking lights, audio-visual devices, press
communiques projected on a screen, tape recordings, loud
speakers or megaphones were used. These techniques had
been used by Brecht and other playwrights in the 1920s and
1930s also for political purposes.
The popular theater dramatist Armand Gatti uses modern
techniques of stage production, imitation of cinema tech
niques and fragmented chronology to project his themes.
He writes to try -to change the world and his intent is
always political. In Gatti's plays distanciation works
through exaggeration, antithesis, criticism, and the juxta
posing of serious, poetic, grotesque, fantastic or humorous
elements. Taken individually such techniques are not new.
Gatti's abundant use of such interruptions in the text,
however, have worked to change the conventions of language
and settings in the theater. His increased emphasis on
actor and spectator participation as well as improvisation
makes him one of the most radical practitioners of the
current return to a more spontaneous, political theatrical
ity.


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151
The use of lighting is also used to close the frame
work of the play. The theater usher in the play comes in
the dark with a flashlight to inspect the chairs of Cervi,
Vastadour, and Vorortzug as though they had left something
there. Then she turns her flashlight on the audience and
keeps it shining on them for several minutes. This ending
closes the framework of the play and again links the stage
action with the everyday lives of the real spectators.
Gatti uses only one set design, a huge neon panel which
symbolizes the American framework for the Sacco-Vanzetti
case. The panel suggests the theater lights in the Broadway
theater district and serves as a lighted display board
flashing newspaper headlines. Distance is achieved by the
fact that the audience never does see a traditional play
about Sacco and Vanzetti.
The titles of the ten sections of the play suggest an
interrelation between music, a political position, and film
techniques: I. Clefs de porte sous forme de spectateurs
partisans, II. Bande sonore pour un gnrique, III. Couplet
de la semaine du rire dans le Massachusetts, IV. Antiphon-
aire de la terreur blanche Palmer-City, V. Bande tmoin
pour un long mtrage policier, VI. Entracte avec les dix-
huit orphons de dtresse du Premier mai, VII. South Brain
tree Parade, VII. Hymne pour un enfant assassin, VI. Note
blanche et noire sur une triple agonie, X. Bel Canto. The
use of such titles also makes one think of Brecht's use of
titles to summarize the action. As the number of sections


17
le systme social qui engendre ces contradictions,
tout ceci l'intrieur d'une reprsentation.^
Finding both the dramatic genre and the epic genre to be
insufficient, Sartre goes on to suggest creating a theater
which includes a subjective view along with a critical view
of society. He thinks Brecht's V-effects work against
creating such a theater because in his opinion:
Quand on ne partage pas les fins d'un group social
qu'on dfinit, on peut, en effet, crer une sorte de
distanciation et, par consquent, montrer les gens du
dehors et mme quelquefois rendre par un chant ce
qu'ils pensent: mais quand on est dans une socit
dont on partage les principes, ga devient beaucoup
plus difficile. Nous avons affaire ce
moment-l un autre thtre, thtre qui essaie de
comprendre, et c'est prcisment, mon avis, la
diffrence entre l'pique et le dramatique; dans le
dramatique, on peut essayer de comprendre, mais
dans l'pique, tel qu'on nous le prsente actulle-
ment, on explique ce qu'on ne comprend pas. '
Sartre's criticism of Brecht's techniques of distancia
tion can best be understood in relation to the debate among
some Marxists regarding how to include a subjective view in
the Marxist objective view of society. Sartre thought exis
tentialism, which he considered to be a humanism, could
introduce this dimension. Marxists, however, did not follow
Jean-Paul Sartre, "Thtre pique et thtre drama
tique," in Un Thtre de situation, eds. Michel Contat and
Michel Rybalka (Paris: Gallimard, 1973), pp. 104-05.
17
Sartre, p. 149.


67
11 interruption de la formule tre sexu en tant que
l'tre sexu est intress dans la jouissance.22
Claude Lvi-Strauss uses linguistics and its structural
method to account for various systems of marriage and kin
ship; he asserts there is a close analogy between language
structures and kinship relations. In his Le Cru et le cuit
(1964), his sequence on mythologies, he researches the
structure of myths. Believing in the invariability of
mental structure, he concentrates on synchronic descriptions
and explanations.
Opposition to the structuralists has come from Marxists
like Henri Lefebvre who stress the importance of the indivi
dual in a diachronic, linear view of history. During the
1960s Lefebvre analyzed the concept of ideologies and how
they function in relation to culture. In his Le Langage
et la socit (1966) he gives the following definition of
an ideology:
Une idologie comprend toujours que son agent
d'Elaboration ou d'utilisation soit un groupe, une
classe ou une nation plusieurs aspects: repre
sentation de soi pour soi, representation de soi
pour les autres. Plusieurs images s'entrecroisent:
image du monde, image de la socit, image de l'homme.
Et cela h travers quelque chose de partiel (qui se
veut total) et de partiel (que se dit vrai): 1'idol
ogie. Avec une tendance A la cohrence, et mme A
22
Jacques Lacan
Jacques-Alain Miller
, Le Sminaire d Jacques Lacan,
(Paris: Seuil, 1975), p. 16.
ed.


137
Jacques Lacarrire said the blending of past, present,
and future was necessary since a man when dying reviews his
life as imaginary events mixed with real ones rather than
9
as a chronological film. Peter Gelbard very enthusias
tically praised Gatti's techniques by stating:
Energy and emotion, restlessness, singlemindedness,
an absolute command of technique are used to serve
an idea, and not to fiddle with the form for form's
sake. Gatti will be France's answer to
Brecht. 0
According to Jean Wagner, Gatti's techniques attacked
the structures of the theater.^ By multiplying the playing
areas on the stage, the stage became a factor of creation
as it became the support for the joint imagination of the
author and the spectator. Besides the time and place of
the stage, Gatti further multiplied the number of areas
available by the addition of cinema screens which also sup
port the idea of the real, the memory, or the dream.
Wagner believes Gatti's use of screens differs from that of
Brecht, who used them as a means of comment, and that of
Piscator, who used them to enlarge the action to historical
dimensions. Moreover, Wagner believes the esthetic intent
Jacques Lacarrire, "'La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur
Auguste Geai' d'Armand Gatti m.e.s. Jacques Rosner, avec le
Thtre de la Cit," Thtre Populaire, 54 (1964), p. 89.
*"0 Gelbard, p. 70.
Jean Wagner, "Notes sur le thtre d'Armand Gatti,"
Nouvelle Critique, 175 (1966), p. 43.


14
It [theater] constructs its workable representations
of society, which are then in a position to influence
society, wholly and entirely as a game: for those who
are constructing society it sets out society's expe
riences, past and present alike, in such a manner
that the audience can "appreciate" the feelings,
insights and impulses which are distilled by the
wisest, most passionate among us from the events of
the day or the century. They must be entertained
with the wisdom that comes from the solution of
problems, with the anger that is a practical
expression of sympathy with the underdog, with the
respect due to those who respect humanity, or rather
whatever is kind to humanity, in short, with what
ever delights those who are producing something. 2
Brecht's theoretical ideas about the theater imply
changes in acting and staging. The kind of acting which was
tried out at the Schiffbauerdamm Theater in Berlin between
the First and Second World Wars was based on the effect of
distancing. For Brecht a representation that alienates is
one which allows the spectator to recognize its subject
while making it appear unfamiliar. The V-effects are
intended to free socially-conditioned phenomena from a famil
iarity which protects them from being understood. In the
Short Organum he states:
This technique [distanciation] allows the theater to
make use of its representations of the new social
scientific method known as dialectical materialism.
In order to unearth society's laws of motion this
method treats social situations as processes, and
traces out all their inconsistencies. It regards
nothing as existing except in as far as it changes,
in other words is in disharmony with itself. This
12
Brecht, p. 186.


44
distanciation is related to the actor's intention to make
society better by inciting the spectator to take part in
the struggle to stop the inequality of different classes.
The actor wants to show the spectator the alternatives
which are open to the character. Besides what one decides
to do, there also exists what one has decided not to do.
Referring to the techniques used by actors to struc
ture a play's staging, Aslan states that each scene exists
in itself, although the actor indicates at all times a
2 6
relationship with the final scene. The insertion of pro
jections on screens, the intrusion of music, and bright
lights work to break up the continuity of the acting. The
actor passes from prose to verse and from speaking to sing
ing, with the songs being a part of the antiillusionist
interruptions in the spectacle. Gestures are selected
which express the global attitude of the social character
istic illustrated in the play. This gestus is the mimed
expression of the social relationships which are established
between men of a certain period. The spoken text of the
actor is broken down in function of the gestus. Beyond the
sense of each phrase, the actor works to put into light the
fundamental gestus. These gestures can be brusk, syncopated
or contradictory. The dcor, costumes, accessories, and
everything which constitutes the mise en scene should work
to facilitate the actor's actions.
26
Aslan, pp. 171; 299.


114
cites H. Monloup's stage design for Gatti's play Chant
public devant deux chaises electriques (Paris TNP, 1966) and
remarks that it "fait clater l'espace selon les volonts
2
de 1'auteur." Furthermore Bablet only devotes a few pages
to Brecht in his work.
Another striking example of avoiding a direct refer
ence to political theater in France is the series of works
written by the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scien-
tifique) theater group under the direction of Jean Jacquot.
Beginning in 1966 these writers researched the relationship
between the ecriture dramatique (written text) and the mise
en scene (scenic presentation). After selecting a number
of principal stage productions since 1945, they gathered
documents on scenic presentations. The first two volumes
appeared in 1971 as Les Voies de la creation thtrale, I
and II. So far six volumes have appeared and not one of
them contains material on a play by Gatti. Just as Bablet
spoke of political events in Russia and Germany in the
1920s and 1930s rather than of those in France in the 1960s,
Jacquot1s group preferred to document political plays of
German and American playwrights in the 1960s rather than
those of French playwrights.
Simone Benmussa, while recognizing the important
trends documented by the series, describes the CNRS work
2
Bablet, Les Revolutions, p, 259.


196
initiated activities related to theater.^ They set up
classes in mask-making, in marionnette construction, and
in scenario writing. The purpose of their visit was to
create a play with everyone in the school taking part. The
participants were encouraged to write plays which corres
ponded to their particular age and background. At the
school Gatti and his "Tribu" prepared a work in which two
journalists, who actually played their own roles, took part
in the work Vingt-Quatre Heures de la vie d'un page. The
play was later published as Le Joint (Editions IKMMAD, 1977).
During the same year Gatti tried using video film in
a project. Le Lion, sa cage et ses ailes was filmed on
video equipment at Monbliard-Socaux, the second largest
concentration of workersmany of them foreignersin France.^
Under the direction of Gatti and his group thirty scenarios
were created. The lion represented the Peugeot factories,
the cage was the working-class district of Monbliard, and
the wings were the minifilms inserted in each film (a film
within a film), as a theoretical reflection on the situation
Claire Devarrieux, "Nous sommes tous des chats
gurilleros," Le Monde, 27 Nov. 1975, p. 15, cols. 1-4.
Armand Gatti: une rtrospective, p. 32. Gattis first
film 1Enclos (1960) dealt with his concentration experience.
Then he filmed El Otro Cristobal (1962) in Cuba in which the
theme of the revolution is poetically transposed. The sub
ject of his third regular film Ubergang ber den Ebro
(Crossing the Ebro), which marked his return to film-making
after an eight-year hiatus, relates a tragic incident in
the life of an emigrant worker from Spain who is living in
the consumer society of West Germany. It was filmed in 1970.


204
Techniques of distanciation, set designs, and props
are successfully integrated into the presentation of Gatti's
themes. Theater as theater often appears as a theme which
is used to help^ the spectator form a critical view of
what is being presented. Other recurring themes of Gatti
are justice for the underdog; politization of women; support
for revolutionary struggles for national independence in
the Third World; rewriting of history from the viewpoint of
workers or guerrilla fighters; criticism of big business,
consumer society, and pseudo-universal ideologies; cultural
identity; and codirection of all concerned in cultural acti
vities and in decisions related to social problems. All
these themes are related to current intellectual and polit
ical trends in France.
In France of the 1980s, the Socialist regime of
Frangois Mittrand has launched its own "cultural revolu
tion," purportedly to spread culture to the masses to end
the image of the arts in France as serving mainly the
16
elite. Paris is to become once again the world cultural
capital it was in the 1920s and 1930s when theater and lit
erature flourished. Apparently like the critics Bablet and
Jacquot, the Minister of Culture Jack Lang prefers to com
pare the present-day events in France to the 1920s and
1930s rather than to the events of the 1960s. Yet the
Alie, M.sby^ "French Culture undergoing sweeping
Changes," The San Juan Star, 20 April 1982, p. 5, cols. 1-3.


Copyright 1982
By
Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski


BIBLIOGRAPHY
Primary Sources
Brecht, Bertolt. "Short Organum for the Theater." In
Brecht on Theater; The Development of an Aesthetic.
Ed. and trans. John Willet. New York: Hill and Wang,
1964, pp. 179-205.
Gatti, Armand. Chant public devant deux chaises lectriques.
Paris: Seuil, 1964.
"Un Thtre pour la cit." La Nef, 29 (Jan.-
Mar. 1967), pp. 71-73.
Les Treize SoleiTs de la rue Saint-Blaise.
Paris: Seuil, 1968.
V comme Vietnam. Paris: Seuil, 1967.
La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G. In
Thtre III. Paris: Seuil, 1962.
Secondary Sources
Althusser, Louis. "Comment lire 'Le Capital'." In Positions
(1964-1975). Paris: Ed. Sociales, 1975, pp. 149-160.
"Le Piccolo Bertolazzi et Brecht: Notes sur un
thtre matrialiste." In Pour Marx. Paris: Maspero,
1965, pp. 131-151.
Aslan, Odette. L'Acteur au XXesicle: Evolution de la tech
nique, problme d'thique. Paris: Seghers, 1974.
Bablet, Denis. "Entretien avec Armand Gatti," Travail
Thtral, 3 (Apr.-June 1971), pp. 3-21.
Les Rvolutions scniques du xxasicle. Paris:
Socit Inter. d'Art XXe sicle, 1975.
Benjamin, Walter. "Der Autor ais Produzent." In Versuche
iiber Brecht. Ed. Rolf Tiedemann. 2nd ed. Frankfurt/
Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1967.
207


13
published in France in the review Theatre Populaire in
1955. Brecht transforms devices of art in order to present
a critical view of society. In the prologue to the Short
Organum he states:
The battle was for a theatre fit for the scientific
age, and where its planners found it too hard to
borrow or steal from the armoury of aesthetic con
cepts enough weapons to defend themselves against
the aesthetics of the Press they simply threatened
to transform the means of enjoyment into an instru
ment of instruction. 0
A new type of theater was needed because new forms of
organization and a new vision of life had evolved. In this
scientific age man could adopt familiar objects about him
to serve him.^ But, the new approach to nature was not
applied to society. It was not in the interest of the
evolving bourgeois class to apply this new way of thinking
and feeling to the relations which people have to one
another during the exploiting and dominating process.
Indeed, the role of the bourgeois class would then come to
an end. Brecht therefore concludes that the productive
attitude to be taken up toward nature and society enter
tainingly in the theater is a critical one, and states:
Bertolt Brecht, "Short Organum for the Theater,"
in Brecht on Theater: The Development of an Aesthetic, ed.
and trans. John Willet (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964),
p. 179.
11
Brecht, pp. 184-85.


166
down and look at a screen as if they are watching a film.
Westerns were very popular films during the 1960s in
France. Gatti uses a light parody of the Western to indi
rectly criticize de Gaulle's politique de la grandeur when
Dr. XXX states:
[Par roulement travers les poques] se manifest
toujours dans l'histoire du monde un peuple lu-
c'est--dire un peuple qui martle sa ressem-
blance tout le reste de l'Univers. Rien ne lais-
sait prvoir [ sa naissance] que le Texas serait
ce peuple-l. (p. 29)
When Mgasheriff enters the Pentagon a second time,
five Mgasheriffs appear on stage: Mgasheriff no. 2, is
the well-liked one; no. 3, the contractor who builds dams
to get votes; no. 4, the "do-gooder,11 who wants to create
a great society, resolve the black problem, and abolish
poverty; and no. 5, the liar. Using simultaneity Gatti
shows the contradictions within Johnson's personality.
Whereas Brecht in his plays develops the consequences of
contradictions within a character, Gatti uses five actors
to concretely symbolize this contradiction. In this way
Gatti limits the psychological development of the charac
ter and yet shows the contradictions within Johnson's per
sonality .
Mgasheriff and the Pentagon officials view the war
in Vietnam like a game. Quadrature concludes that the oper
ation "Lance d'Argent" was successful and any possibility
of a new Dien Bien Phu is excluded. When he states, "nous


53
made Maoism an appropriate form for the expression of
hatred of the consumer society with links to underdeveloped
7
countries and markets. Jean-Luc Godard was attracted to
Maoism because it did not dictate in advance the form of
films that must be made. It insisted that this was an open
question which, as in other areas of ideological struggle,
must be solved by a combination of practical experiment and
theoretical reflection. Godard's commitment to Maoism was
to wane after 1972 but between 1967 and 1972 he worked on
films with Maoist students. He first came in contact with
them while filming La Chinoise (1967). He collaborated with
Jean-Pierre Gorin, a young French Maoist, on the last four
Dziga-Vertov films: Vent d'est (1970), Lotte in Italia (1970),
Valdimir et Rosa (1970) and the unfinished Jusqu'. la vic
to ire (1970), as well as on the films Tout va bien (1972)
and Letter to Jane (1972).
The New Left
The new left in the West in the 1960s introduced a new
era moved by new impulses and ideas. The Bolsheviks had
Colin MacCabe, Godard: images, Sounds, Politics
(Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1980), p. 58.
o
The Vertov group was named after the Soviet film
maker Dziga Vertov. In the 1920s he insisted that the main
concern then was the current state of the class struggle.
He also emphasized the importance of montage before shooting
films. Godard formed the Vertov Group with French Maoist
students in the late 1960s.


128
as they are conventionally known are discarded as Parent
makes use of past-present-future counterpoint and synthesis.
He compared this procedure to that of Robbe-Grillet's film
Last Year in Marienbad in which a fusion of past and present,
of dreams, desires, and reality creates a purely mental time
and space.
Parent's play Gilda was produced a few months after
Auguste G. and the techniques Knowles mentions in relation
to Parent's play are similar to those present in Gatti's
Auguste G.: it is very composed; it proceeds by the juxta
position and superimposition of scenes lived at widely dif
ferent intervals; the idea of counterpoint, which is applied
both to the visual images and the dialogue. Speaking about
the overall effect of Parent's play Knowles states:
Through the presentation an effect of distance in the
manner of Brecht is established inviting reflection
on the hero's action and not identification with him,
though the presentation, in Brecht, is of course
successive, and not simultaneous as with Parent.
Parent claims that an even completer "distancing"
than Brecht's could be attained, seeing that Brecht's
"distancing" applies only to the theatrical event,
and not to the historical fact that is related to
the theatrical event.6
The techniques of simultaneity also distance the audi
ence from Auguste's life so that they may take a critical
view of the events presented: the poverty of workers in
La Vierge; the crass conditions and violence; the lack of
6
Knowles,"Michel Parent," p. 32.


168
Juste ce qu'il fallait pour permettre un rparateur
de bicyclettes de rever Cavec ses seuls moyens)
la destruction des bombardiers nuclaires stationnes
ici. (p. 76)7
The peasant Phuong adds that the first board with nails was
constructed by Trong True who was killed by the French in
1860. Dinh's protest is a continuation of Trong True's
resistance. Thus Gatti establishes a link between past his
tory and present events since for Gatti the past is part of
the present. One must understand the past to understand
the present.
The link between Vietnam and the Pentagon, first sug
gested by the packages containing the planche a clous, be
comes more direct when a soldier at the Kien Cuong air base
being interviewed by Quadrature at the Pentagon via tele
communications disappears from the TV screen as the camp is
attacked. The guerrilla fighter Tang then emerges from the
computer at the Pentagon. The instructor Luyen and the
peasant Phuong accompany him. Luyen proceeds to establish
a new encyclopedia in an effort to replace the culture
forced upon the Vietnamese by foreign invaders. Tang's
first contribution to the new encyclopedia is to the
letter "C ." He provides a definition for crapaud, frog.
Gatti's play La Cigogne (Seuil, 1971) deals in a
poetic style with the slow deaths of Japanese victims of
radiation after the Second World War.


149
include actions which are taking place outside the prison
to try and save their lives. Reports are made from dif
ferent parts of the United States. Kurlanski, as a union
metallurgist, relates:
Les hommes. capables de dclencher un mouvemerit gn-
ral se sont vendus au patronat. Les syndicats sus
ceptibles de prendre la direction d'une grve gn-
rale ont t crass, liquids dans le sang.
Souviens-toi de Chicago, (p. 138)
Little Ned, a black reporting from a miners' union in Colo
rado, states: "L'crasement et la faim. Vous n'avez qu'A
lire les journaux. Nous n'avons que deux issues ou
fermer notre gueule, ou tre des espions russes" (p. 140).
In this episode Gatti blames the unions for permitting
their members to be assassinated. Union members who take
no action are as guilty as the judges and religious hypo
crites who do the "dirty" work for those in power are as
bad or worse than those they serve. In an interview Gatti
expresses this opinion in relation to the Second World War:
After the Liberation of Paris someone said to me:
"There are people who were put in prison unjustly~
who did nothing.?'! I say, those are the people who
should go to jail those who did nothing to remedy
the situation. The person who tried to please
both hangman and victim is the biggest coward of
all. Worse than the SS men were.l
In the play Gatti suggests the real spectators are respon
sible for causing the deaths of Sacco and Vanzetti.
16
Knapp, p. 278.


42
it as "la joyeuse mise au tombeau d'une poque et la fin
23
d'une grande illusion."
The productions of Ariane Mnouchkine's Theatre du
Soleil took a similar direction in the 1970s. In some
respects, however, their research in popular theater seems
to lack the vitality of opposition which Brook defines as
"roughness." The troupe is not actually playing to a
popular audience and their experimentation emphasizes a
critical examination of the theater as theater more than
a gaiety aimed at producing rebellion or effective social
criticism.
Brecht and the Actor
One more aspect that should be discussed in relation
to Brecht is the importance of the profession of acting in
the 1960s and the 1970s. The new attention directed toward
the actor in France is evidenced by Jean Duvignaud's
L'Acteur: Esquisse d'une sociologie du comdien (1965), and
Odette Aslan's L'Acteur au XX sicle; Evolution de la tech
nique, prbleme d'thique (1974).
Duvignaud thinks the actor represents all the possibil
ities of an era and of a society.^ According to him, the
23
Rene Saurel, "Avec Gignoux, Planchn et Rtor."
Les Temps Modernes, 282 (Jan. 1970), p. 1120.
24
Jean Duvignaud, L'Acteur; Esquisse d'une sociologie
du comdien (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), p. 169.


148
(Les Paravents), and revolution (Le Balcn). Genet pre
sents a particular view of the mechanism of appearances in
society. Moreover, his anarchistic Said in Les Paravents
illustrates that he, to some degree, sides with the
underdog.
In Chant public Gatti portrays simple, uneducated
workers as heros. His plays represent an attempt to open
up a new way of looking at French society in order to
recognize that different points of view exist, and to pro
vide a critical view of the ideas imposed by a dominant
class whose values (for example, justice) are often contra
dicted by the real social, political and economic situation.
Gatti's rewriting of history to show a different viewpoint
is evidence of the general trend toward recognizing a
pluralistic society which occurred during the 1960s and
which still continues today. It may be validly argued
that Gatti is not objective, but this argument is merely
a recognition of the fact that it is impossible to be
objective in our era. Someone is always interpreting facts
and history is always being written by someone with a par
ticular perspective. Moreover, to view problems properly
and to try and solve them, the first step is to acknow
ledge that different points of view do exist.
In Auguste G. workers find it difficult to take a
unified action because of different opinions and personal
considerations. While Sacco, Vanzetti and Madeiros are
on death row, Gatti expands the structure of the play to


198
information about this one appeared in newspaper articles
which describe what occurred without providing a critical
review of the project. Apparently the people most interested
are those who directly take part in the experience.
Gatti's video film projects can be viewed as an exten
sion of his experimentation in popular theater. The German
critic Ernst Wendt noted in 1966 similarities between the
techniques Gatti used in his plays and those used' in contem-
13
porary films. He thought Gatti, using techniques evolved
from Brecht's ideas, was able to render on the stage what
films do through picture symbols, jump cuts, fnixing and
montage. Gatti's plays, like films, could show preconceived
'images, constructed images, to make the meaning of the text
clear. Wendt also saw similarities between Gatti'splay
Auguste G. and Godard's film Le Petit Soldat (1960). The
latter dealt with the Algerian war at a personal level and
at a political level. Godard called the film a kind of
autocritique, since it showed his confused state of mind
about the rights and wrongs involved' in the war. Whereas
Godard tried to understand a political question by using a
film, Gatti used a play to present Auguste's confused state
of mind concerning his life at the personal level and at the
political level.
13
Beispiel
Ernst Wendt,
," Akzente,
"Was da kommt, was schon ist:
3 (June 1966), p. 226.
Gatti zum


94
and proposed a subversive culture that was able to radical
ize a part of the intellectual middle classes. Such action
risked to create a situation of rupture in the different
fractions of the middle and petty bourgeoisie, instead of
reassuring them of a national heritage and prestigious
cultural values. According to Gaudibert, the Gaullists
wanted to keep the established society and the Communists
wanted to inherit the national culture. By their policies
and actions it became clear that for both parties, culture
is actually a part of a political strategy that aims to win
the support of the middle class and neutralize it. The
class struggle, however, is evident in the field of culture
despite all the efforts to make culture an area of common
consensus.
Because of the conflicting political elements in
France: Gaullists, Communists, militant leftists, it is
easy to understand the contradictory situation of a cultural
animate'ur with a revolutionary project in the 1960's.
Gaudibert summarizes his position as follows:
II se heurte la bourgeoisie traditionnelle, se
trouve dans un position d*alibi pour la bourgeoisie
moderniste, devient suspect de gauchisme aux yeux
du P.C.F. et rencontre, l'hostilit des groupes
gauchistes en tant que complice des institutions
culturelles, integr au systeme "flic" de la
culture. 2
12
Gaudibert, p. 136


36
Romain Weingarten, Nathalie Saurraute, Jean-Claude Carrire,
Frangois Billetdoux, Liliane Atlan); socially-oriented dra
matists (Armand Gatti, Georges Michel, Gabriel Cousin);
humorous and farcical theater (Jeanine Worms, Ren de Obaldi,
14
Rezvani). In addition, an interest in freely adapting
Shakespeare1s plays coincided with the attempt to create
political theater in France. Brecht served as an example
for such projects, since he freely adapted Shakespeare's
Coriolanus and spoke of Elizabethan theater and Shakespeare
in his theoretical works.
Shakespeare and Brecht as Models
Bernard Dort noted that Brecht simultaneously exalted
15
Shakespeare and turned him into derision. For Brecht
Shakespeare was at the same time the most qualified, and
therefore the most harmful, representative of what he called
"old" theater. He was also the precursor of the new theater
in which Brecht in the 1950s saw the necessary result of the
epic form.
While Brecht rejected the ideology of Shakespeare's
tragic vision of the universe, he did accept the forms of
Bettina Knapp, Off-Stage Voices: Interviews with
Modern French Dramatists, ed. Alba Amoie (Troy, N.Y.:
Whitson, 1975) p^ 1~.
^ Bernard Dort, "Brecht devant Shakespeare," Revue
d'Histoire de Thtre, 1 (1965), pp. 73-74.


78
resigned on May 28th. De Gaulle obtained temporary powers
from parliament to govern and legislate when on 1 June 1958
he was elected by a majority of a hundred, with the Commun
ists, half the Socialists, and others such as Pierre
Mends-France and Franqois Mittrrant in the minority. In
September 1958 a new constitution was approved which greatly
strengthened the president's power. The president in France
is elected by universal suffrage for seven years, he chooses
the prime minister, he alone can dissolve the national assem
bly and submit laws passed by the parliament to a referendum;
he has the right to pardon, to negotiate and ratify treaties,
to conclude military agreements which do not require parlia
mentary ratification, and in exceptional circumstances he
can assume all powers.
The terrorism of the OAS (Organisation de l1Arme :¡
Secrte began in Algiers in September 1958, and soon devel
oped into indiscriminate attacks on Moslems and a scorched-
earth policy. Terrorism spread to Paris with bomb attacks on
the homes and offices of Gaullists or left-wing supporters
of the FLN (Force de Libration Nationale). Frenchmen demon
strating against OAS terrorism and the Algerian war met with
police hostility. A turning point in public opinion occur
red when eight Communist demonstrators were killed by police
action at the Charonne subway station on 8 February 1962
during a demonstration against the OAS which had been organ
ized by labor unions, The obsequies of the victimes became
one of the largest left-wing demonstrations in Paris since


134
Gatti uses interruptions in the play, such as Auguste
yelling from his bed, to keep the spectator from being dis
tracted by false sentiments. Interruptions are also used
as a part of the whole structure of the play to call atten
tion to the text of the play to illustrate that theater is
not real life. Unconvinced by Auguste's rhetoric about the
revolution, Christian as a film director cries, "stop" (p. 67).
Auguste G. falls back down on his bed as Christian states:
"Cette revolution ne vaut rien Personne n'y croira" (p. 67).
This interruption serves to break the illusion of the play
and to point toward the fact that like a film a play is a
constructed text put together from a certain point of view.
While Christian describes the action, the actors follow his
indications as though he were directing them in a film.
Throughout the play the theme of the revolution and the role
of the intellectual are presented in relation to Christian's
production of a film.
The role of the intellectual is introduced as a theme
when the White Baron states:
(La revolution vue par les artistes.')
Ces gens-l sont aussi ncessaires qu'une soupape.
II faut les entretenir... Les monteurs d'illusions
aident la vidange du plus grand nombre. Je les en
remercie, mais qu'ils n'outrepassent point leurs
fonctions. (p. 69)
The White Baron bans Christian's film and sends him to
prison. While Christian is in prison, the White Baron asks
him to sign a contract and tells him that leftist


25
The actual political events in France and Brecht's
theater contributed toward establishing political drama in
France. Brecht viewed the theater as having an ideological
purpose; its function was to transform society by showing
the spectator that he could intervene in the historical
process. Brecht experts writing articles for the review
Thtre Populaire judged the French staging of a Brecht
play negatively if it varied from the Berliner Ensemble
model, or if it presented the political content in a banal
commonplace way. The bourgeois critic Jean-Jacques Gautier,
on the other hand, praised the type of staging which showed
3
a tendency toward generalizing the political theme.
Whereas Vilar believed the function of the theater was to
integrate the individual into the community, Gatti, more in
line with the critics of Thtre Populaire, felt that the
theater's purpose was to form critical spectators. As a
playwright he, like Brecht, sought to "divide" the audience
and did not believe a theater performance could create a
unity which did not actually exist in the society.
Through the efforts of the review Thtre Populaire
(published from 1953 to 1964) Brecht's plays and theoretical
works were discussed. The concept of epic theater as a
system and method, and the idea that a social conflict is
inseparable from its historical context, were established.
3
Hfner, p. 115.


88
Malraux and Gaullist Cultural Policies
As students moved from trying to reform their univer
sities to attempting to revolutionize society, Andr Malraux
explained to a large Gaullist rally at the Porte de Versailles
on 21 June 1968 that the May events really represented a
crisis of Western civilization. The Gaullist campaign theme
was the defense of the Republic and the liberty of its citi
zens from anarchy and the Communist danger.
Earlier in 1968, Malraux had angered film directors
when his Ministry dismissed Henri Langlois, the founder of
the Cinematheque Frangaise. Pierre Barbia, immediately after
he was appointed to replace Langlois, fired the Cinmathque's
sixty employees. Within hours Godard, Truffaut, Resnais,
Marker, Bresson, and Renoir announced that because Langlois
was dismissed they would refuse to allow their films to be
shown at the Cinmathque. Paris producers, actors, and
directors held protest demonstrations which were violently
broken up by the police. They also picketed the cinema.
With criticism being voiced even among the government's sup
porters, Malraux could not justify the action of his Minis
try. Consequently he agreed to grant the Cinmathque
independence from state control on stringent financial
terms and to reinstate Langlois.
Andr Malraux was the key person in the state appara
tus in charge of cultural policy in the 1960s. In 1945
he had been asked to join de Gaulle's circle of supporters


55
In France between the two World Wars the surrealists
sought a method of cultural revolution based on a new con
ception of human possibilities and aimed at unlocking
physical and psychological barriers between the conscious
and the unconscious, the inner world and the outer world, so
as to create a sur-ralit in which the real and the imag
inary would fuse and dominate life. The existing social,
scientific, and philosophical values were to be radically
transformed through the liberation of the unconscious. In
Central Europe, Wilhelm Reich was investigating a new cul
tural revolution project based on the idea that forms of
class domination imposed on the masses by repressive society
were related to a parallel process of psychological and
sexual repression imposed on individuals during socializa
tion within the patriarchal family.
What both Reich and the surrealists were attempting to
do in their reformulations of revolutionary thought, Reich
through a synthesis of Freud and Marx and the surrealists
through a less systematic unification of politics, psycho
logy, and art, was to develop a new definition of radical
politics which would overcome the insufficiency of Marxism.
They were among the first to recognize the revolutionary
potential contained within the crisis of everyday life as it
was beginning to be revealed in the 1920s by the breakdown
of the patriarchal family, of traditional sexual morality,
and of old cultural patterns. The emergence of struggles on


38
- Parce que le theatre shakespearien, theatre de
l'hoinme, sans distinction de race, de nation, de
classe ou de culture, semble tre l1instrument
ideal d'une experience de thtre populaire
- Parce que les "caracteres" n'y sont jamais traits
pour eux-mmes, mais toujours travers de grandes
collisions historiques, et que les destins indivi
duis y sont toujours indissolublement lis au
destin collectif.
- Parce que, crit pour un public populaire, compris
par lui en son temps, le thtre shakespearien est ^
rest accessible au public populaire d'aujourd'hui.
But Jean Jacquot in his article entitled "Vers un thtre du
peuple" criticizes Planchn's interpretation of this play
of Shakespeare by stating:
II parait ressortir de tout ceci qu'un animateur qui
voudrait faire du thtre un instrument de culture
populaire, en montrant des pices qui donnent penser,
qui approfondissent la conscience et dveloppent
le sens des responsabilits, n'aurait qu' laisser
parler Shakespeare, et permettre son oeuvre de
s'organiser sur la scne selon la loi qui lui est
propre.
Jacquot believes such plays contain self-evident universal
values which do not need to be explained in a theater pro
duction .
Jacquot proceeds to state exactly which elements he does
not like in Planchn's production. These innovations
resemble Brechtian techniques. For example as a means to
"Pourquoi Henri IV?" Cit-Panorama, 4 (Apr.-May 1959)
cited by Jean Jacquot in "Vers un thtre du peuple,"
Etudes Anglaises, 2 (Apr.-June 1969), p. 233.
18
Jacquot, p. 234.


47
as a result of intelligent reflection at first by just a
few people and later by a whole class on why certain con
ditions exist and how best to convert the facts of oppres
sion into rebellion and social change.
This means that every revolution is preceded by an
intense period of criticism, and the diffusion of culture
and ideas among masses of men. Gramsci cites as an example
the French Revolution. The Enlightenment (the preceding
cultural period) was a revolution in itself. It gave Europe
a unified bourgeois consciousness, one which was sensitive
to the misfortunes of the common people and which prepared
the way for the revolt that followed in France. Napoleon's
armies found their road already prepared by books and pam
phlets that had come out of Paris in the first half of the
eighteenth century. After the French events had created a
unified consciousness, a demonstration in Paris was enough to
provoke similar disturbances in Milan, Vienna, and smaller
cities in France, Germany, and Italy.
Gramsci saw the same phenomenon occurring in 1916 in
the case of socialism. It was through a critical view of
capitalist civilization that the unified consciousness of
the proletariat was being formed. This critical view implied
Gramsci's definition of culture, that is a consciousness of
a self which is opposed to others, which is differentiated,
and which can judge facts and events in so far as they tend
to drive history forward or backward in terms of social


56
the part of women and youth for greater independence and in
search of new life-styles evidenced this change.
After having been neglected for decades, the original
cultural revolutionary project emerged throughout the indus
trial West during the 1960s as a "new" left. From the per
spective of the new left it appears that the antiauthori
tarian student movement, the youth culture, the revolts of
minorities within the industrial countries, and the move
ment for female and sexual liberation constitute potentially
revolutionary responses to capitalist exploitation and
oppression. Of fundamental importance to the new leftists
are the claims of the individual against the power of a
bureaucratic administrative apparatus which has fragmented
all social activity.
To the socio-economic critique of capitalism begun by
Marx, Freud's psychoanalysis added an attack on the tradi
tional values of bourgeois society and its institutions and
the realities of socio-economic and psycho-sexual repression.
It offered a means of liberation to attack inherited ideals,
myths, and moral patterns, and provided the basis for a
new practice of individual self-enlightenment and creation.
Not until around 1955 did the links between psychoanalysis
and Marxism become once again explicit and the discussion
of the original Freudian Marxist themes of theorists like
Reich, Fromm, and Horkheimer take place in the works of
Herbert Marcuse and younger writers such as Jiirgen Habermas
and Reimut Reiche.


40
inner impressions, Brook sees both Brecht and Beckett con
tained in Shakespeare unreconciled. The spectator identi
fies emotionally, subjectivelyand yet can evaluate polit
ically, objectively in relation to the society. In a state
ment about the structural elements of Shakespeare's plays
Brook concludes:
Because the profound reaches past the everyday, a
heightened language and a ritualistic use of rhythm
brings us to those very aspects of life which the
surface hides: and yet because the poet and the
visionary do not seem like ordinary people, because
the epic state is not one on which we normally dwell,
it is equally possible for Shakespeare with a break
in his rhythm, a twist into prose, a shift into
slangy conversation or else a direct word from the
audience to remind us in plain common sense-of
where we are and to return us to the familiar rough
world of spades as spades.21
The element of "roughness" which Brook finds in Shake
speare is also the theater which Brook characterizes as
popular, a source which he believes continually revives the
genre. Through the ages popular theater has taken many
forms and the factor which they have in common is roughness.
It is a theater close to the people which uses such elements
as satire and grotesque caricature, asides, placards,
topical references, local jokes, songs, dances, contrasts,
22
exaggeration, false noses, stock types, and slapstick.
Brook sees this quality of roughness in the Elizabethan
21
Brook,
P-
80.
22
Brook,
pp.
59-64.


21
that date many formalists developed into literary historians,
.mainly in the historical novel and in the movies. Their
image of literary history as mutation proved to be unsatis
factory as philosophy and yet stimulating for the imagin
ation. Jameson dates the structuralist movement from the
publication of Claude Lvi-Strauss' Tristes tropiques (1955)
to its high point in 1966-1967 when Jacques Lacan published
his Ecrits and Jacques Derrida published his first major
texts. Structuralists like Lvi-Strauss reawakened thought
on the origins of culture and changed our perception of
history. Jameson summarizes the influence of formalist and
structuralist thought on history as follows:
To say, in short, that synchronic systems cannot
deal in any adequate conceptual way with temporal
phenomena is not to say that we do not emerge from
them with a heightened sense of the mystery of
diachrony itself. We have tended to take temporality
for granted; where everything is historical, the
idea ofhistory itself has seemed to empty of
content. Perhaps that is, indeed, the ultimate
propedeutic value of the linguistic mode; to renew
our fascination with the seeds of time. 3
In the theater both in the 1920s-30s and in the 1960s
a critical view of the relationship between dramatic art
and the real, historical world became a major concern for
some dramatists. During both historical periods, in
Russia and Germany (1920s-30s) and then in France (1960s),
the changes in the existing society paralleled socio
political activities in the theater. Although Brecht wrote
23
Jameson, preface p. x.


INTRODUCTION
From de Gaulle's establishment of the Fifth Republic
in September 1958 to the demonstrations of May 1968,
political and literary thought in France stimulated experi
ments in the theater. The subject matter chosen for plays,
the form in which they were written, and the techniques and-
devices used in staging them were affected. The theater
became a political issue during this period because of the
unusual interaction between politics, literature, and
theater. Attention was turned toward the voter, the reader,
and the spectator.
The decade began with the organization of a "popular"
theater in Villeurbanne, the working-class suburb of Lyon,
by the theater director Roger Planchn. By the mid-1960s,
however, the critic Bernard Dort questioned whether popular
theater was possible in a French society where workers, in
fact, did not attend the theater. Culture became not only
the preoccupation of persons interested in the theater but
also that of politicians. Such notions as culture, cultural
action and, in some cases, cultural revolution were used by
political parties and radical groups to support ideological
points of view.
Armand Gatti was an innovator in the theater during
this period. His participation in the popular theater
1


169
On prend un crapaud on lui introduit une boulette
de tabac dans la bouche et on 1'attache aux barbeles
qui dfendent un camp ennemi. Le crapaud tousse.
Les sentinelles tirent parce que sa toux est humaine.
Qa peut durer longtemps. Des nuits entires par-
fois. (p. 86)
At the end of the play Tang wants to add to the encyclopedia
a definition under the letter "Vi" He describes a Vietcong
as, "un animal aux poils verts [cortime l'herbe 1'lphantsfsic] ]
difficile capturer et qui lorsqu'il se met debout change
la face du monde. A la lettre V [comme Vietnam]" (p. 123).
Guerrilla tactics are presented as a necessary element in
establishing a new culture. Monkeys are used to carry slo
gans in the market place and bees are trained to attack the
ennemy.
Symmetry is used in the structure of the play when
guerilla fighters attack the camp at Kien Cuong in the
second half of the play. The same government officials
reappear on TV screens. This time, instead of discussing
military maneuvers, they report on an actual battle raging
in Vietnam. The TV screens are used to distance "the
war, as it is distanced by television announcers. From the
battle field in Vietnam the following information is
reported:
- Tirs sur baraquements nous ont fait croire qu'il
s'agissait d'une rvolte
- Avons ananti l'unit sud-vietnamienne qui nous
secondait. .
- Aucune trace de Vietcong.


CHAPTER III
POLITICAL THOUGHT
Cultural Revolution
As early as 1916 ideas such as cogestion, workers'
councils, and cultural revolution were being discussed in
Italy. Antonio Gramsci, a revolutionary socialist, defined
then what many theater activists and Brechtian critics in
France in the 1960s advocated as the purpose of culture in
relation to popular theater. For Gramsci culture has noth
ing to do with a university degree.'1' Rather than formal
ized education, it is a disciplining of one's inner self to
come to terms with one's own personality. Culture is the
attainment of a higher awareness with which one succeeds in
understanding one's own historical value, function in life,
rights and obligations. According to Gramsci, however, it
is only by degrees that humanity acquires this consciousness
of its own value, and wins for itself the right to throw off
the patterns of organization imposed on it by minorities at
previous periods in history. This consciousness is formed
Antonio Gramsci, "Socialism and Culture," II Grido
del Popolo, 29 January 1916, in Antonio Gramsci: Selections
from Political Writings 1910-1929, trans. John Mathews
(New York: International Publisher, 1977), pp. 12-13.
46


136
(Je serais bien incapable d'aller quelque part.)
La dpartementale 115, ce n'est plus pour moi.
Ces routes-l, c'est bon quand on est enfant.
Lorsqu'on devient balayeur, il n'en reste plus
beaucoup. Alors, on invente des histoires vieilles
crame le monde (Laurence...Pauline) je m'en suis
tellement raconte l-dessus que je ne sais plus
tres bien ce qu'elles ont t (Les femmes, c'est
en dormant qu'on en a le plus). Chris? (tu
seras quelqu'un toi pas crame moi) Lorsque plus
tard tu feras des films, je sais que tu ne m'oubli-
eras pas. Tu me feras mourir dans la revolution,
n'est-ce pas, Chris? Avec un bel enterrement et
des drapeaux rouges et tous les camarades de
1'Assainissement qui m'accompagneront jusqu' la
dpartementale 115, Dis, Chris? tu n'oublieras
pas? Jusqu' la dpartementale 115... (p. 106)
Instead of the Barons being shot or Auguste being considered
as a revolutionary hero, Auguste's body is unceremoniously
dumped in the gutter by the police. Empty "frames" keep
moving on the giant stage screen to indicate the true story
of Auguste's death will not be told.
In general critics favorably reviewed the play and the
staging techniques. Bernard Poirot-Delpech stated:
Le flou apport par Gatti la peinture d'Auguste
tait indispensable pour la rendre ressemblant en
profondeur. Du dsordre des visions et de la
folie des mots nait peu peu 1'impression verti-
gineuse de partager la ralit apparemment simple
mais finalement incommunicable qu'est la songerie
d'un boueur rvolutionnaire mourant de coups de
crosse il y a trente ans et se demandant
pourquoi.8
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, "'La Vie imaginaire de
1'boueur Auguste Geai' d'Armand Gatti," in Au soir le soir:
Thter 1960-1970 (Paris: Mercure de France, 1969), p. 133.


182
pntrer le corps de Boulise avait-elle ce moment-l le
sentiment de faire la revolution?" (p. 86). This idea
causes a general surprise among the suns.
During the 1960s uninhibited naked girls appeared on
stage in "happenings." In Treize Soleils Mile. Blanc is
stripped of her clothes as a means of symbolically strip
ping her cultural attributes. The allusion to sex by
Brousse above creates an interruption in the presentation
and implies a relationship between culture or ideology
and attitudes toward sex and love. Obviously for Gatti the
sex in happenings is pointless. For him a sexual revolu
tion would entail consciousness-raising. When he has the
students strip Mile. Blancor view her with telescopes from
their rooftop committee meetings, he is establishing a
critical view of Mile. Blanc as a purveyor of bourgeois
culture.
At times the play seems to be a helter-skelter review
of ideas prevalent in France in student and theater groups
just prior to May 1968. Concerning the discussions with
the thirty spectators from different groups who were the
"cocreators" of Treize Soleils, Gatti states:
lis changeait leurs impressions sur l'urbanisme,
la militance, le tierc, les problmes de la femme,
les computers, la rsistance, 1'insatisfaction ouvrire,
les vacances... Tout autour, inlassables comme la mer,
venaient battre les vnements du jour, le Vietnam,
la guerre israelo-arabe. Pour moi c'tait le vertige.
(preface, p. 7)


103
directors of the "pheripheral" theaters in his Le Thtre
hors les murs. Most of the interviews were conducted before
May 1968, and the independent tone of the directors is
apparent.
In his interview with Madral, Guy Rtor, the director
of the Thtre de l'Est Parisin, stated:
A mon sens, une entreprise coitune le T.E.P. a
d'ailleurs le devoir de faire oeuvre de contestation.
Sans vouloir me ri'squer donner une df inition de la
culture; je pense qu'elle est avant tout une rflex-
ion permanente sur l'homme et la socit dans
laquelle il vit, une remise en questions constante
des ides reques. II nous appartient done de lutter
contre tout ce qui provoque les individus n'tre
qu'une foule irresponsable et inconsciente. Nous
avons choquer notre public, l'inquiter mme
afin qu'il conserve sa vigilance.*5
Retor, like Gatti and Brecht, wants a theater which
"divides" the public. Rather than just stage works of the
past, he thinks it is important to reveal new works and
authors that reflect our era and that treat the problems of
our society.
Influenced by the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht, Piscator,
the review Thtre Populaire, and Roger Planchn, Gabriel
Garran, the director of the Theatre de la Commune at Auber-
villiers, sought to respond to the concerns of the workers.
This was in 1962, the year during which the Charonne
8
Madral, p. 45.


32
Norman Holland also states there is a basic difference
between absurd and epic theater.1 He makes a distinction
between the effect on the audience of both types of plays.
To do so he differentiates the style of the 1930s from the
one after the Second World War. He refers to the 1930s style
as "modernique" and the postwar style as "postmodernique."
As defined by Holland, the 1930s style is characterized by
traditional beliefs which were held with passion and convic
tion, such as those aroused by the Spanish Civil War. The
postwar style includes mass murders, sick comedians,
abstract expression, politics concerning non-Western
peoples, the UN and NATO, a decline in ideology in favor of
a confrontation of specific crises such as the Korean war,
the H-bomb, an unwillingness to commit oneself to any
belief, and a quest for certitude in terms of internal
states while confronting the incomprehensibility of the
external world.
Having established the difference between these two
styles, Holland states that a playwright such as Ionesco in
a meta-play (Holland's term) creates in us a deep sense of
personal uncertainity about ourselves, an unclear relation
of self to object (audience to the work); he then offers
intellection as a self-defeating way of dealing with the
Norman N. Holland, "Recent Drama Criticism: Bathtubs
in the Nose," The Hudson Review, 17, 4 (Winter 1964),
622-23; 625-26.


138
of each of Gatti's plays is to explode the traditional
structures of the theater in order to reveal a universe
where the class struggle is the motor of all actions. As
Wagner states:
Or la dynamique, le moteur mme de 1'action est
directement lie la situation sociale du hros:
le monde de Gatti est, en effet, un monde essentie.l-
lement gouvern par la lutte des classes. La psycho-
logie n'entre pour aucune part dans le comportement
des hros: le passe qui revit dans chacun de leurs
gestes est un pass d'homme socialement situ, le
prsent est la fois la somme de toutes les humilia
tions et de toutes les conqutes, le future, une
fidlite au pass. Les ides qui animent les per-
sonnages sont celles d'hommes de classes tres
prcises. ^
The theme of class struggle is also evident in Gatti's
play Chant public devant deux chaises lectrigues per
formed at the TNP in 1966. In addition to the obviously
political subject matter the Sacco-Vanzetti case
Gatti again uses structural techniques to draw attention to
socio-political conditions. By breaking up the elements of
time and space, Gatti questions the notion of theater
representation and forces the spectator to actively parti
cipate in contributing to the creation of the play. As has
been pointed out in the discussion of Auguste G., Gatti
uses the idea of a film being made to interrupt the play in
in order to call attention to the spectacle, and to dis
sipate its cohesive illusion. In Chant publique the actual
12
Wagner, p. 48.


73
30
politics, and values of the established system. Thus the
idea of pluralism can take the form of repression and
imperialism. The principle of difference, however, is a
means of choosing resistance as an alternative. It intro
duces the unlimited aspect of what is possible and makes
possible the reversal of the established order. For this
reason differential thought, as opposed to pluralistic, is
naturally revolutionary.
Politically this means auto-gestion, beginning from
production, and the disappearance of the state. This
auto-gestion signifies that ultimately the urban revolution
and concrete democracy develop at the same time. It also
entails a radical critique of ideologies, specialized
sciences, and specialized politics.
To fill the gap between intellectual theory and social
. 31
praxis Lefebvre introduces the term transduction. Trans
duction means the elaboration of a theoretical object, a
possible object, from information about reality and the
problem posed by this reality. The result is an experimen
tal utopia, that is the exploration of the human possibility
with the aid of the imagination accompanied by an incessant
critique and continual reference to a given problem in
reality. Lefebvre believes in this way philosophy will be
30
31
Vachet,
Vachet,
p. 410.
p. 419.


109
In the February-March 1967 issue of the review
Partisans, entitled"Theatre et Politique," a similar con
clusion was drawn about politics and the theater in 1967
18
by Georges Dupres. He spoke of the selfcensorship
taking place in the theater where the personality of the
director, the definition of the public, the financial suc
cess, the political situation, the critics, and the struc
ture of the theater organization worked to reintegrate the
theater into the existing social modes. Duprs thought
what was happening in 1967 was not a vulgarization of the
theater, but a vulgar uniformity, delivering theater to the
public without giving spectators any choice, and putting
the same importance on everything which was presented on
the stage. What he called for instead was a critique of
reflection to investigate things, not simply to show
things. He also criticized the monopoly of the state on
information on radio and television, whose merit Duprs
characterized as being that of not contesting or opposing
the government.
Theater Activities During May 1968
During the manifestations of May people active in
popular theater supported the general strike. Meeting in
Georges Dupres, "Le Theatre malade de la culture,"
Partisans, 36 (Feb.-Mar. 1967), pp. 22-24; 27.


167
ne voulons plus conqurir, mais frapper," (p. 68) Gatti is
indirectly criticizing not only the Americans, but also
de Gaulle's policy to develop a nuclear force, a force de
frappe. Having witnessed France's defeats in Indo-China
and Algeria, Gatti does not believe a revolutionary war
can be conquered by a conventional army and navy, nor does
he believe nuclear arms should be used.
To develop this idea further Gatti introduces the
story of the peasant Thu. Tang relates that while Thu
was hiding in a tree, the South Vietnamese General Dzuc
ordered troops to kill Thu's wife and son to force Thu to
show himself. When Thu appears General Dzuc takes him to
the communal house. Once inside Thu cries out and the
villagers using javelins, picks, and axes kill general Dzuc
Therefore, villagers using instruments in their daily lives
are successful against a general in the same way a popular
revolutionary army will ultimately overcome the sophisti
cated war machines of the superpowers.
This episode is related to the theme of the planche
a clous. The peasant Dinh sends three packages to the
Pentagon addressed to the Secretary of Defense. Each
package contains a board with nails in it and they symbo
lize Dinh's perserverance in protesting against the .S.
bombings in Vietnam. Dinh relates:
C'tait ma fagon de protester. Je n'osis protester
davantage parce que j'avais peur d'attirer les repr-
sailles sur Yuan ma filie. Mais force d'en-
foncer les clous, j'ai appris la perseverance.


186
a theater group subsidized by the state engages in cultural
activities with political implications:
Parce qu'elle releve la fois de directives
fumeuses et de contingences bassement electorales, la
politique culturelle expose ses serviteurs aux pires
contradictions. Tantt ils sont libres de vouer
la ruine l'Etat qui les nourrit sans autre mandat que
celui de leur conscience. Tantt on les met en va-
cances sans pravis. Dans tous les cas, pour la
gauche crame pour la droite, il font figure de privi
legies incontrolables aux raisons d'tre toujours
plus floues.13
In an article written three years earlier than Poiret-
Delpech's review of Treize Soleils, Bernard Dort also men
tions misconceptions concerning the popular theater move-
14
ment. In his opinion, a theater for the masses can not
be realized unless certain changes occur in the educational
system because "l'accs des thtres suppose un acquis cul-
turel antrieur: contrairement ce que croient certains
animateurs, le thtre, ft-il populaire, ne saurait jouer
15
a lui seul un rle de formation culturelle." According
to Dort workers will not attend the theater until the struc
ture of education is changed. Moreover, they must partici
pate in the management of their own work situation and a
work schedule must be established to permit workers to
have more leisure time.
Poiret-Delpech, Que demande le peuple," p. 242.
Bernard Dort, "Les Nouveaux Thtres l'heure du
choix," Les Temps Modernes, 239 (Apr. 1966), p. 1843.
15 Dort, p. 1844.


155
It is true that Gatti wants to show spectators they have
many possibilities. Linear theater, according to him, dis
dains man because it does not give him any possibilities.
Gatti differentiates linear plays in which one or several
characters come into focus during a single period of time
22
from his plays which use "time possibility." In the
theater Gatti seeks to replace clocktime with another world
which possesses its own logic, its own way of seeing things.
In his opinion a man is born with all sorts of possibili
ties, but he finds himself limited by his parents, his envi
ronment, his education, and his experiences. Slowly he
loses some of the many possibilities life has offered him.
A person thus is living many lives simultaneously but he
is conscious of only one because he becomes chained to one
point of view. He can liberate himself, according to Gatti,
only when he lives life as an individual and looks at the
world in more than one way. When viewed in relation to the
idea of "time possibility," Gatti's "different" language
represents an attempt to present a conception of French
culture which recognizes various groups in French society
with differing points of view.
22
Knapp, p. 214.


158
Beginning in the 1960s and continuing today French
intellectuals of the Left have tended to support Third
World revolutionary movements. Gatti, because of his back
ground can identify with revolutionary movements and does
support such groups in his plays. His point of view, at
least during the 1960s, coincided with that of many young
French men and women. At the time Gatti's play V comme
Vietnam was produced in 1967, various groups in high schools
and universities openly supported the North Vietnamese. It
was the Collectif Intersyndical Universitaire d'Action pour
la Paix au Vietnam, grouping together different teacher and
student unions, which approached Gatti and commissioned the
play about Vietnam.
It is not surprising that Gatti was very willing to
respond to the request of spectators from a union group.
According to him, critics who find his plays too complex
and unfit for a popular audience actually misjudge the
audience. Such critics rely on cultural references they
think are universal, but which are the result of the educa
tional system in France. The kind of spectators Gatti
wants to attract to the theater are those who are accus
tomed to viewing television and films. He believes such
spectators naturally understand his use of time. Televi
sion, for example, intermixes past, present, and future
events on news programs. For this reason Gatti divides
speactators into the following two groups:


33
miniature psychosis the play has caused. Brecht's style,
according to Holland, is between the postwar style and the
1930s style of theater. Believing the right attitude
toward any real, important phenomenon is a casual, contemp
tuous one, since it is the only one which permits concen
tration and alertness, Brecht calls for an attitude of
criticism and demands acting that will enable the audience
to draw abstract conclusions. In this way he is "post-
modernique." Yet to the extent that he is a Marxist, his
plays have both a social concern and a placing of events in
historical space and time that does not occur in meta
theater. Consequently his style can also be considered
"modernique." Holland concludes that Brecht has taken the
best of both the "modernique" style and the "postmodernique"
style by writing plays which are richer and more humane than
Ionesco's. His plays involve a belief, and although Brecht
confuses his audiences in a "postmodernique" way, he offers
belief as a solution to the conflicts of the play.
Fitch bases his analysis of epic and absurd theater on
structural elements in plays; Holland bases his on the reac
tion of the spectator. Both critics recognize a social
purpose in epic theater which is not present in absurd
theater. In January 1968, however, Rene Saurel voiced
discouragement concerning the fils de Brecht and the social
purpose of popular theater when reviewing four plays being
presented in suburban Parisian theaters: Adamov's La Poli
tique des restes (Thtre Grard-Philipe at Saint-Denis);


9
2
Moscow during Brecht's visit there. Later Brecht developed
his own acting method of Verfremdungseffekte (alienation
effects). The purpose of Brecht's V-effects is to permit
the spectator to develop a critical distance toward what
is presented. Therefore the word distanciation rather than
alienation describes better his application in the theater
of the literary theory related to the term priem ostraneni tpa.
For both Tretiakov and Brecht this practical applica
tion of distanciation in the theater involved a socio
political purpose. Walter Benjamin discussed this aspect
of Tretiakov's and Brecht's works in his lecture given in
Paris in 1934 entitled "Der Autor alsProduzent" ("The
Author as Producer"). He stated that the political intent
of a literary work can only be justified if it is fully
integrated into the literary quality of the work and, in
3
fact, constitutes this literary quality. Furthermore, a
functional dependency exists between the right political
intent and the advanced literary techniques of a period.
According to Benjamin, the technical forms of litera
ture have to be transformed in order for political criti-
4
cism to be effective. For example, in Brecht's didactic
Marjorie L. Hoover, Meyerhold: The Art of Conscious
Theater (Amherst: Univ. of Mass. Press, 1974), p. 264.
Walter Benjamin, "Der Autor ais Produzent," in
Versuche iiber Brecht, ed. Rolf Tiedemann (Frankfurt/Main:
Suhrkamp, 1967), p. 96.
4
Benjamin, pp. 108-12.


79
the Second World War, with 500,000 people marching to
protest against the war and the police. On 19 March 1962 an
agreement was signed with the FNL at Evian.
Having ended the Algerian war with the signing of the
Evian treaty in 1962, de Gaulle turned his attention to
international politics.^- He was able to initiate political
action because the October 1962 referendum changed the elec
tion of the president to universal suffrage, thereby strength
ening the president's position, and because as a result of
the 1962 parliamentary elections in November, a coherent
absolute majority to back Gaullist policies had been elected.
This situation permitted de Gaulle to begin his politique
de la grandeur in 1963. He opposed England's candidature
for the Common Market, believing the English would serve
American interests in Europe. He opposed the multilateral
nuclear force proposed by the Americans for Europe and,
instead, signed a Franco-German alliance and worked for
closer ties with the U.S.S.R. De Gaulle sought to gain
for France an important place in world politics as a peace
maker between the two superpowers; Gaullist foreign policy
worked to stimulate local nationalisms against the super
powers. For this reason de Gaulle sided with the Arabs in
the Middle East War of June 1967 and spoke out for a Qubec
libre in July 1967.
Pierre Viansson-Pont, Histoire de la Rpublique Gaul-
lienne (Paris: Fayard, 1971), pp. 75; 77.


101
Peripheral- Theater s
Most animateurs of popular theater in the 1960s, like
most French intellectuals, were motivated by their political
4
beliefs. In their eyes a truly popular repertory should
face people with current reality, provoking them to politi
cal action, rather than be entertainment concentrating on
acquainting the masses with France's dramatic heritage.
Therefore, a conflict between government administrators and
directors of dramatic centers and cultural houses was
destined to arise in the decentralization of the theater.
In an article published in 1969, Raymond Temkine
reviewed two books written just prior to May 1968, L'Etat
et le theatre by Jack Lang (today's Minister of Culture)
and Le Thtre hors les murs by Philippe Madral. Temkine
relates that Jack Lang thinks the state does not expect any
thing from the theater and that it does not have anything
5
to fear from the theater from the ideological point of view.
Nevertheless, since the state wants to consider the theater
as a public service functioning to legitimate the established
culture, Lang concludes:
Le developpement rneme du theatre par les autorits
tablie peut avoir une utilit politique: instituer
la paix sociale en faisant croire, au prix de
quelques concessions et de quelques subventions aux
^ Lee, pp. 122-23.
^ Raymond Temkine, "Le Thtre, service public?"
La 'Pense, 144 (Apr. 1969)), p.132


117
de Gaulle's forces. After the war he worked as a journalist
for the daily Le Parisin Libre and later on did reporting
for France-Soir, Paris-Match, L'Observateur, L'Express, and
Liberation. In 1954 he received the Prix Albert Londres
for a report entitled "Envoy spcial dans la cage aux
fauves." The same year he went to Guatemala during the
height of its revolution and traveled in Central America
and the United States. Two years later he went to Korea,
China and Siberia.
In 1958 Gatti published his first play Le Poisson noir,
which was awarded the Prix Fnon for literature. Jean
Vilar staged Gatti's Le Crapaud-Buffle in 1959. The ori
ginal subtitle of the play "Une Histoire de France pour
Adultes" was dropped during rehearsals when word reached
the troupe that the play was about to be banned. Gatti
makes free use of the factual material picked up during his
extensive travels in Central America as a journalist. In
the play the principal character Don Tiburcio is the dic
tator of a fictitious country. His works and acts are in
part borrowed from Trujillo, Armas of Guatemala, Martinez
of San Salvador and Somoza of Nicaragua. Don Tiburcio is
in close touch with the great figures of his country's
past and can at will become possessed of the spirit of a
defunct hero who might serve his political purpose.
Although the play did not receive favorable press
reviews from French critics, Gordon Merrick praised Gatti's
techniques and dismissed any parallels between the


CHAPTER VII
1962-1966: LA VIE IMAGINAIRE DE L1EBOUEUR AUGUSTE G. AND
CHANT PUBLIC DEVANT DEUX CHAISES ELECTRIQUES
La Vie imaginaire de l'eboueur Auguste G. was produced
for the first time by Roger Planchn's Theater de la Cit.
The work of Planchn's troupe coincided with Gatti's inter
est in a working-class audience, in new staging techniques,
and in new methods of production. Planchn's theater was
located in Villeurbanne, a working-class area outside Lyon.
Before putting on a play the actors, the director, the
scenic designer, all those connected with the production
would visit whatever aspect of society the play dealt with:
factories, homes, schools. They would then discuss what
they had learned from the visits. After the play had been
staged they would discuss it once more. Auguste G. was
staged on 16 February 1962. Claude Lochy composed the music;
Ren Allio designed the set; and Jacques Rosner directed
the play. Because of its successful staging, Gatti was
recognized for the first time as a promising French
dramatist.
The plot of Auguste G. is relatively simple. A street-
cleaner injured by the police during a strike lies dying on
a hospital bed. In his delirium he reconstructs the impor
tant events of his life in an effort to understand it.
122


ARMAND GATTI AND POLITICAL TRENDS IN FRENCH
THEATER UNDER DE GAULLE (1958-1978)
BY
BONNIE LAURIE PYTLINSKI
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1982


144
the anarchist Venturelli, acting as a reporter, interviews
the unknown soldier, a marine who has served for several
years in Mexico, Haiti, and Cuba. The soldier states he sup
ports the National City Bank, the Interest Banking House,
and the United Fruit Company. The soldier uses the slogan,
"bon pour le business, bon pour le pays" (p. 54) to explain
the reason for military intervention in Nicaragua, the Domin
ican Republic, and Honduras. The style of commercials and
publicity in this episode contrasts with the figure of the
soldier agonizing on the cross in mid-air, and it is obvious
that Gatti is criticizing American military intervention on
behalf of business interests.
In addition, in another episode Gatti associates the
civil ceremony of laying flowers at the grave of the
unknown soldier with the beginning of "la semaine de rire,"
the period of white terror in the 1920s during which a
repression of labor groups by soldiers and police forces
occurred in the United States. This ceremony in the tone
of advertising acts as a counterpoint to the serious and
sad parades of the workers1 unions on May 1st to commemorate
the deaths of union workers.
In Chant public Gatti uses the theater setting in Lyon
to develop the theme of the participation of the spectator.
He uses the term selmaires to identify parallel creations
to a given reality, in this instance the play. In fact the
technique is simply an extension of Gatti's practice of
including the spectator's point of view in his plays. The


97
prepared to support his work. Shortly after this Toulouse
offered help to Maurice Sarrazin, who had founded the
Grenier de Toulouse there in 1945. In 1947 more substan
tial support was offered by the government, and various
theater groups were given the title of Centre Dramatique
and a subsidy. The establishment of Troupes Permanentes in
individual towns by the government together with local
authorities further stimulated the creation of more broadly-
based audiences. Roger Planchn's Thtre de la Cit in
Villeurbanne was the first to obtain this status in 1957.
The creation of numerous theater centers in the
working-class suburbs of Paris with municipal support began
in 1961. In these "peripheral theaters and the provincial
theaters many talented producers were active in Auber-
villiers Gabriel Garran, in Saint-Denis Jos Valverd, in
Sartrouville Patrice Chreau, and at Nanterre Pierre
Dbauche; in Lyon Marcel-Noel Marchal, in Strasbourg
Hubert Gignoux, and in Bourges Gabriel Monnet. In Paris
itself Guy Rtor was directing the Thtre de l'Est
Parisin (TEP), a sort of second TNP in a working-class
area. Much of the original work in production methods
since the war has been done in these new centers, and so
has most of the research in theater design.
It was for these theaters that a new repertory was
provided by Authur Adamov, Armand Gatti, Roger Planchn,
Gabriel Cousin, Michel Vinaver and Pierre Halet; foreign
playwrights such as Brecht, O'Casey, John Arden, Peter


11
bourgeoisie, revolutionary statements could be assimilated
without actually threatening the class in power.
Tretiakov also believes in the 1930s that the workers
and farmers who write articles or letters published in
newspapers act to "push" the worker into literature and
thus create a new relationship between the writer and the
g
reader. The profession of the writer is changed from a
contemplative role to one of carrying out an operation. All
work, including writing, is viewed as a political and eco
nomic act which is part of the class struggle. The class
enemy is not simply embodied as evil, but rather as that
part in every man which appears as outdated ideas or habit
ual behavior in need of being changed.
In his own literary work Tretiakov examines facts in
terms of their general social interest and changes them into
an argument leading to practical conclusions. His theater,
which includes montage of attractions, documentaries, melo
dramas, agitation guignol, dramatization of newspaper arti
cles, and production plays, is an attempt to illustrate the
application of literary contributions to the practice of
social change in the actual society. Even though Tretiakov
did not believe in developing a personal style or in
professional writing, Benjamin cited him, along with Brecht,
6
Mierau, pp. 23-24.


173
new history. For Gatti the latter is the contemporary hero
and the former is outdated.
The four Megasheriff-kings sit on the scattered parts
of the computer and reign over a changing society that is
breaking apart into fragments. Gatti may be parodying here
the 1960s trend in the theater to update Shakespeare, again
as a way of drawing attention to the subject of theater as
theater. Many French directors and critics renewed their
interest in Shakespeare at that time. Jean Duvignaud com
pared the upheaval in sofciety in our times to the one dur-
g
ing Shakespeare's lifetime. Jan Kott saw similarities
9
between Shakespeare's plays and Beckett's. And, as was
discussed earlier, Planchn updated Henry IV.
After the "dreams" of the soldiers, which will be
used in theater productions, Gatti extends the framework
of the play to include congratulations to an existing guer
rilla group which kidnapped an American general in Venezu
ela. In this way the play is seen as an artificial compo
sition which has an active counterpart in revolutionary
action in the real world. At the end of the play, in order
to again emphasize the relation between the action in the
play and the external world, the actor portraying
Jean Duvignaud, Sociologie du Thtre; Essai sur
les ombres collectives (Paris: Presses Universitaires de
France, 1965).
9
Jan Kott, Shakespeare our Contemporary, trans.
Boleslaw Toborski (Garden City, N.Y., Anchor Books, 1966).


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER PAGE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv
ABSTRACT V
INTRODUCTION 1
I BRECHT: THE LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND GERMAN
THEATER IN THE 1920s-1930s AND FRENCH THEATER
IN THE 1960s 7
II BRECHT IN FRANCE 23
Brecht versus Theater of the Absura 28
Shakespeare and Brecht as Models 36
Brecht and the Actor 42
III POLITICAL THOUGHT 46
Cultural Revolution 46
The New Left 53
Class Struggle, Structure, Ideology 60
IV POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ACTION IN FRANCE
UNDER DE GAULLE 77
De Gaulle 77
Political Parties and Groups in France
1958-1968 80
Malraux and Gaullist Cultural Policies... 88
Cultural Action 90
V POPULAR THEATER 96
Theater Decentralization 96
Peripheral Theaters 101
Theater Activities During May 1968 109
VI ARMAND GATTI: FRENCH PLAYWRIGHT OF THE
1960s 113
v


99
One decade after the Cultural Minister's statement,
the French state had two National Popular Theaters (one
in Paris and one in Strasbourg); an impressive number of
decentralized dramatic centers (in Strasbourg, Saint-tienne,
Toulouse, Rennes, Marseille and Aix, Tourcoing, Villeurbanne,
Menilmontant, Carcassonne, Nice, Caen); permanent troupes,
and young itinerant companies. These new theaters, sup
ported by state and local subsidies, had large, enthusiastic
audiences. In the late 1950s and the 1960s there was an
increasing effort toward originality in these Centers.
Regional audiences were the first to see important produc
tions, premieres of new French plays, performances of
unknown foreign ones, or radically new interpretations of
familiar works.
By the spring of 1968 the following maisons de la
culture, cultural centers which did not necessarily have a
theater, were in operation: Le Havre, Caen, Bourges, TEP
in Paris, Nanterre, Amiens, Thonon, Firminy. Cultural
centers were under construction in Saint-tienne, Rennes,
Nevers, and Chaln. However, one year after May 1968, the
relatively healthy situation of popular theater had changed
drastically. By the summer of 1969 five important animateurs
were deprived of their theaters: Dast of Saint-tienne,
Monnet of Bourges, Trhard of Caen, Retor of the TEP, and
Jauneau of Thonon. Maurice Sarrazin's theater in Toulouse
had closed early; Jos Valverd in Saint-Denis was in
financial difficulties, Jacques Chreau left Sartrouville


178
c'est quand mme pas Melun qu'il se trouve.
C'est deux pas d'ici (au Pere Lachaise).
Et Varlin (notre Eugene Varlin de la Commune), il
a bien d traverser la rue Saint-Blaise, lorsqu'elle
tait insurge. (p. 21)
The student who imagines this sun has just returned a book
to the teacher about the Commune. Behind Ali Amrani, an
immigrant worker from Algeria, a rooster appears instead of
a sun because a rooster is more appropriate to his thoughts
than French culture or French history. Gatti humorously
introduces criticism of the consumer society when Mireille
Berque (soleil modre) employed in the clothing industry,
says about her creator: "Et puis elle a ses manies. Pour
elle, un soleil c'est de la matire plastique lavable avec
dsordorisant, fly-tox, savonnettes. Je refuse de paraitre
dans ces conditions" (p. 28). The anarchistic Spaniard
Claret (soleil marginal) disagrees with his student creator
to such an extent that he assumes a different name, calling
himself Max Brousse.
The play presents the idea that workers should be inde
pendent and capable of being cocreators, coproducers,
codirectors in the society. The suns form committees on
rooftops, a natural place for suns, to study man, woman,
and the child. To symbolize a scientific approach to urban
problems, each committee is equipped with a cybernetic
globe to assist them in their work.
When the rooster representing the Arab worker is brought
to the committee studying the child, Yves Paumier states:
"Comment voulez-vous que soit incluqu un volatile


12
as a writer whose works contain both political purpose
7
and literary quality.
In the 1920s the Lef group and the sociological for
malists moved from Shklovsky's formalist theory of the lit
erary device to consider its application in the proletarian
g
revolution. Such formalists attempted to inscribe their
practice within the concept of cultural revolution. For
them the transformation of existing relations of production
and productive forces for the transition to communism also
implied the transformation of existing ideological relations.
The final aim of "production" art was the dissolution of
art into life by breaking down the distinction between
artistic work and productive labor and by giving the ordi
nary worker the distant and controlled relation to his work
that was characteristic of the laid bare device.
Alienation-effects are for Brecht, as they were for
the formalists, autonomous technical devices of art, not
9
avatars of the alienation of man under capitalism.
Brecht's most important theoretical work on the theater is
his Short Organum for the Theater, written in 1948 with
appendices added later. Parts of this work were first
Benjamin, p. 98.
g
Ben Brewster, "From Shklovsky to Brecht: A Reply,"
Screen, 15, 2 (Summer 1974), 88-89, 91.
9
Brewster, p. 94.


54
failed to grasp the necessity for the revolutionary process
to be accompanied by a "reform of consciousness," such as
the young Marx and subsequently Gramsci had called for, by
which the proletariat would become intellectually and emo-
tionally emancipated from the existing system. The strug
gle against political and economic power carried on by radi
cal minorities only becomes revolutionary when accompanied
by a struggle for a reform of consciousness within the
masses. Herein lies the relevance of the cultural Marxists
of the 1920s and 1930s for the new left in the 1960s. The
former most clearly understood the necessity of overcoming
the dichotomy between the personal and the political.
According to these cultural revolutionaries the critical
economic consciousness of Marxism -its grasp of the
dynamics of social and historical life had to be fused
with a comprehension of the factors underlying everyday life
and the forces conditioning the psychic development of the
individual personality. Such a broadened perspective would
restore the problems of the individual to a central position
alongside those of the collectivity, and would facilitate
the control of individuals over their everyday lives without
external constraints.
Bruce Brown, Marx, Freud, and the Critique of Every
day Life: Toward a Permanent 'Cultural Revolution (New York:
Monthly Review Press, 1973), pp. 15-16, 22-29.


28
political view Brecht afforded and the readiness of some
French critics, directors, and actors to follow his example.
After 1961, however, Planchn did not include any
more Brecht plays in his repertory. By the beginning of
the 1960s the situation had changed concerning some French
critics' attitudes toward Brecht. For the right, the polit
ical engagement of Brecht no longer seemed so dangerous
since his death in 1955. Some critics on the left, such
as Jean-Paul Sartre, Alfred Simon, and Michael Vinaver,
7
reacted against copying Brecht. Without denying Brecht's
significance in their development, many playwrights wanted
to establish their own criteria. Armand Gat'ti and Gabriel
Cousin brought out their first plays at this time. Realism
and politics are the main concepts which such new playwrights
had in common with Brecht's theater.
Brecht versus Theater of the Absurd
Another aspect of Brecht's influence on the French
theater which needs to be dealt with is the controversy
between Brechtian theater and the theater of the absurd.
There were a number of free-lance directors, working in
Paris or for theater festivals in the provinces, who were
staging plays by well-known, so-called absurd playwrights.
Nicolas Bataille launched the theater of the absurd with his
7
Hvifner, p. 153.


146
and sent to jail because false witnesses who were not paid
enough recanted. After some dialogue which permits the
spectator to grasp more easily the significance of the
words of the ballade, the second stanza relates another
example of workers who tried to strike. Because this
stanza is sung by the "supposed" spectators who identify
with Sacco and Vanzetti, it serves to connect the specta
tors fate with that of past examples of men trying to
obtain better working conditions. They sing:
Etranges fruits pendus/aux arbres de 1'Ohio/
fouetts jusqu'au sang/et qui se plaignent/
et qui expirent/ Etranges fruits/pendus par
grappes/aux arbres de Tulsa/ Kasprovitz hirsute/
Clean les yeux en sang/ Diaz la machoire fendue/
Fitz avec un regard/de bte aux abois/ Miller
recroquevill/ dans un sourirq/ qui ne trouve
plus/ abri en ce monde/ Etranges fruits/ les
ouvriers du ptrole/ pendus par grappes/ aux
arbres de Tulsa, (pp. 76-77)
The song sung by a group permits Gatti to relate gory
details which allow the spectator to acknowledge suffering
without becoming emotionally involved in it. Such examples
also add to the significance of the execution of Sacco and
Vanzetti because they build up a complex web of similar
examples.
In the play three "supposed" spectators assume the
identities of the characters on the imaginary stage: Cervi,
a worker at the Fiat plant in Turin, becomes Sacco;
Vastadour, a worker and theater spectator in Lyon, becomes
Vanzetti; and Vorortzug, whose son is in jail for political


5
of spectators. Gatti's themes and basic idea of popular
theater did not change in the 1970s. Yet critics who mis
understood his notion of popular theater equally misunder
stood Gatti himself. Thus after being regarded as the most
promising playwright in connection with the popular theater
movement in the 1960s Gatti was subsequently ignored as
a French playwright when the political climate in France
changed after 196 8. For a French critic such as Alfred Simon,
popular theater meant theater for the majority. For Gatti
and other theater activists and critics influenced by Brecht,
popular theater meant a political theater that expressed
solidarity with the underprivileged in French society and
the Third World. It was theater for the masses, not for
the "majority."
In his 1971 interview with Bablet, Gatti stated he did
not want to continue writing for the traditional theater.
In reference to his play Rosa which was then being staged
in Kassel, Germany, he explained:
Rosa est en train d'tre monte Kassel. Elle
ne peut pas toucher les gens h. qui je voudrais
m'adresser parce qu'ils n1appartiennent tout
simplement pas ceux qui pourront la voir.
Elle devient un objet culturel, et avec elle
j'occupe une position privilgie par rapport
aux travailleurs. Quoi que je fasse, je suis
du c6t des privilges. ... Je suis au service
d'une culture pense par une classe qui en exploite
une autre.2
2
Bablet, p. 11.


81
discredited by the failure of the Fourth Republic and under
3
de Gaulle even the Gaullist party had only a marginal role.
The lessening of the ideological conflict, however, and the
relative disaffection from the parties did not necessarily
constitute depoliticization. Several of the older parties
survived. Political interest seems to have been diverted
rather than diminished. Energies and ideas which before
might have found an outlet through political clubs or inter
est groups appeared outside the conventional political
organizations, the giant demonstrations in 1962 against ter
rorism of the OAS, the direct action by groups like farmers,
shopkeepers and craftsmen, and the manifestations and gen
eral strike of 1968 being examples.
The weak organization in political parties was also
found in the trade unions and was due in part to a fear of
4
central direction. The unions in France are divided
among five central organizations. Half the total member
ship is split between the CGC (Confdration gnrale des
cadres white collar and supervisory staffs1 union), the
socialist-leaning FO (Force-Ouvrire the trade union
federation, mainly in public sector, which split from CGT
in 1947), the CFDT (Confdration frangaise democratique du
travail trade union federation formed in 1964 from CFTC)
Williams and Harrison, p. 374.
4
Philip M. Williams, David Goldey, and Martin Harrison,
French Politicians and Elections 1951-1969 (Cambridge,
England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970), p. 288.


30
g
emotions that would otherwise be denied to them. He sees
similarly powerful poetic metaphors of human emotion in
Brecht's plays and in Beckett's plays. Mother Courage
pulling her cart is a poetic image of human resilience and
tenderness just as the barren tree with the waiting figures
in Waiting for Godot is a poetic image of the emptiness of
human existence. According to Esslin the politically and
socially oriented playwrights simply concentrate their inten
tions on external reality (political conditions, social
problems) while the introspective poetic playwrights such
as Beckett and Ionesco tend to favor an inner truth. The
plays of Beckett and Ionesco are dreams which Esslin
believes are as real to them and to the audience as external
realities are to the Brechtians. Esslin thinks the two
types of theater are really heading toward some sort of
fusion.
It is true that both Brechtian and absurd theater have
brought a number of dramatic techniques into contemporary
recognition and use. Andrew Fitch cites as authors working
with elements which can be identified as epic or absurd
Jean Genet (Les Paravents) Peter Weiss (Marat'/Sade) and
9
Armand Gatti (particularly Auguste G.). Although there
Martin Esslin, An Anatomy of Drama (New York: Hill
and Wang), 1977), pp. 116-18.
q
Andrew Fitch, "A Fusion Avant-Gard?" Drama Survey,
5,1 (Spring 1966), 55; 57-58.


133
older woman, sings a song that is later sung by Laurence.
The first singing raises the spectator's curiosity, but by
the second time it is sung the spectator understands it
better because other themes have been introduced. Laurence
sings:
Je ne suis qu'une moinelle,
brode sur un drap de marie
si le drap se dchire
pour preuve que la moinelle
peut voler, vous offiriras-je
son cri? Vous 1'offrirais-je? (p. 65)
Rather s.acL and puzzling the song connotes the idea of a
violent loss of virginity, a central theme of the play. It
also suggests the impossible love of Auguste and Pauline,
Auguste's feelings of guilt concerning what happened to
Pauline, and the sexual exploitation by the White Baron.
All of which is inferred later when Pauline and Roger, com
pletely drunk, finish the song after Pauline's father has
been dragged out of the marathon dance. Pauline and Roger
sing:
Et quand le cri s'teindra
Moi qui n'ai vcu que pour lui
Moi, voil. que je tomberai. (p. 66)
After this scene the White Baron takes Pauline away, Roger
Estribot is put in jail, and Auguste G., standing on his
bed, cries, "avec la rvolution, on balayera tout ga" (p. 67)
Thus the themes of virginity, sexual exploitation, the
exploitation of the workers, and revolution are interwoven.


85
of the means of production were not enough to abolish
classes or class struggle. Lenin attempted to deal with the
problem by talking of the necessity for a cultural revolution
which would take ideological power from the bourgeoisie.
This idea, however, was never fully developed by him.
In the 1960s the historical mission of the working
class to revolt in order to liberate all mankind by libera
ting itself was transferred to the proletarian countries of
Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The fixation on Cuba,
Algeria, North Vietnam or China found supporters among lef-
7
tist Cahtolics. The missionary tradition of the French
Church had sensitized it to the problem of decolonization
through its experience in Asia and Africa, and then to the
economic and social problems of the underdeveloped countries
in South America. Difficulties in some of the women's
orders and the revival of the worker priest movement testi
fied to this unrest. The Church like the PCF was finding
its moral authority questioned from the left by its own mem
bers. The rejection of capitalism on grounds of Catholic
social theory and interest in the Third World created support
for the new left and hostility toward U.S. actions in
Vietnam. Several Catholic student militants were among the
first to be arrested in May 1968.
7
Williams et al., p. 246.


143
Nous n'aurions jamais pu accomplir en faveur de la
tolerance, de la justice, de la comprehension entre les
hommes, ce que nous avons pu faire du fond de ce couloir"
(p. 171). A huge prop is also used to represent President
Coolidge; only his striped pants are visible. In one
episode Judge Thayer's voice is a taped response to the
pleas of Vanzetti's sister who requests clemency for her
brother. The device contrasts the human emotions of
Vanzetti's sister with the cold attitude of the judge who
states he is acting to save civilization. Gatti thus uses
the same device, a mechanical recording or a huge prop
representing a person, to communicate different types of
information and to create different kinds of reactions in
real spectators.
A particularly striking prop is used to criticize big
business. A soldier agonizing on a cross is lowered from
the flies. A neon sign then introduces the theme of big
business by flashing "OFFERT PAR L'AMERICAN FUNERAIRIA CO."
followed by "EMBAUMER EST UN DEVOIR NATIONAL" (p. 51).
These phrases in the style of modern advertising fade out
as the soldier reappears. In fact, Gatti's elaborate
stage directions in the text illustrate the skill with
which he visualizes a scene. These visual images are at
times even more important than the text. Perhaps this is
natural since Gatti has directed films and uses some film
techniques in his theater such as fading and jumping from
one location to another. During the soldier episode,


Ill
Work committees were organized in different institu
tions and more or less revolutionary reform plans were
drawn up and discussed. In Villeurbanne, Roger Planchn
called together the directors of state-subsidized theaters
and cultural houses. Over thirty theater people gathered
to discuss reforms. Differences of opinion, however, made
it difficult to form a common view about issues. They did
agree that efforts were needed to bring the "nonpublic,"
particularly workers, to their theaters. This, of course,
was an admission of the fact that their theater productions
had not attracted the masses. In the Odon workers spoke,
often for the first time, before a large group of people.
Other theaters also became forums for discussion, although
they were not occupied.
The events of May made clearly visible the contra
dictions in the government-sponsored popular theater move
ment which were apparent even before May 1968. Judith
Miller, writing in 1977, confirmed that popular theater was
dead. Not only did the maisons de la culture eliminate
their inexpensive subscriptions, thus abandoning the policy
of attracting working and lower-middle-class audiences to
their theatrical productions, but they also began to place
more emphasis on sports, safely nonpolitical, than on
theater.^
Judith Graves Miller, Theater and Revolution in
France since 1968 (Lexington, Kentucky: French Forum, 1977),
pp. 137-39; 141.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The guidance, advice and foresight of Dr. Raymond
Gay-Crosier of the Department of Romance Languages and
Literatures in the orientation of the subject presented
were of paramount importance and made this dissertation
possible. The interest and thoughtful remarks of Dr. Wayne
Connor of the same Department and of Dr. Otto Johnston of
the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Liter
atures were of great assistance throughout the writing pro
cess. Finally, the review of the dissertation by Dr. Hal
Rennert of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages
and Literatures is greatly appreciated.
IV


4
activities connected with the school course are used to
introduce different themes. In the preface to the play
Gatti states: "Treize visions du monde plus ou moins anta-
gonistes- c'est-a-dire treize pieces possibles- vont
s'affronter le long de cette rue Saint-Blaise qui, dans
le XXe arrondissement, va de la Commune nos jours.
The thirteen different views are those of Martine Doussel
a salesgirl in a dairy (soleil reflechi), Mireille Berque
an employee in the clothing industry (soleil modre),
Roberte Boulise an unemployed girl formerly working in a
flower shop (tournesol), Maurice ProfUot-- an employee at
city hall (soleil municipal), Raymond Krasewki a worker
in a furniture factory (soleil revendicatif), Pierre
Sulvivani' a painter (soleil baroque) Antoine Marpeaux-*-
a metallurgist (soleil insatisfait), Yves Paumier--
a messenger in a publication house (soleil excentrique),
Claudius Rouget a guard at the townhall (soleil commemora-
tif V Michel Arsenian a deliverer in the clothing indus
try (soleil subalterne) Max Brousse an odd-job man who
is a Spaniard with an assumed French name (soleil marginal),
Herv le Bihana streetcleaner (sole11 noir-Antillais),
and the Arab Ali Amrani, who is an unskilled worker (cog).
In order to have the students write a composition,
the teacher introduces a newspaper article which states:
Armand Gatti, Les Treize SoleiIs de la rue Saint-
Blaise (Paris: Seuil, 1968), p. 7. All quotations in the
text are from this edition.


80
Yet on the French domestic scene there was political
unrest the same year de Gaulle started his politique de la
grandeur. The year 1963 was marked by the miners' union
strike which became total. Railroad workers, electricians,
and gas employees observed work stoppages in solidarity.
The miners marched on Paris and the sympathy of the church
authority and other categories of workers caused the govern
ment to back down and grant employees of the SNCF (Socit
Nationale de Chemins de Fer) and the EDF (Electricit de
France) pay raises.
Political Parties and Groups in France 1958-1968
France in the 1960s was still a fairly nonegalitarian
society in which class divisions were rigid though often
2
taken for granted. More even than the family, the schools
and universities adhered to a formal, nonparticipatory
authority structure. The educational system remained a bar
rier to greater equality and social mobility. Consequently,
it is not surprising that the explosion of 1968 began in the
universities and spread rapidly to many high schools.
Furthermore, in the 1960s political parties were not
serving as an effective means for voicing opposition to
government policies. The political parties were deeply
Philip M. Williams and Martin Harrison, Politics and
Society in De Gaulle's Republic (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor
Books, 1973), pp. 23-27.


211
MacCabe, Colin. Godard: Images, Sounds, Politics. Bloom
ington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1980.
Madral, Philippe. Le Thtre hors les murs: Six Animateurs
et trois lus municipaux nous parlent. Paris: Seuil,
T5ZT. ;
Merrick, Gordon. "The Toad in the Ointment." The New
Republic, 142, 7 (15 Feb. 1960), 20.
Michaud-Mailland, Jean. "Notes au spectateur idal selon
Armand Gatti." Les Lettres Frangaise, 1187 (15-21 June
1967), p. 22.
Mierau, Fritz. Erfindung und Korrektur: Tretjakow, Aesthe-
tik der OperativitatT Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1976.
Miller, Judith Graves. Theater and Revolution in France
since 1968. Lexington, Ky.: French Forum, 1977.
Mingalon, Jean-Louis. "Une Saison en France," Cit
Panorama, 14 (Mar.-May 1968), pp. 6-12.
Ministre des Relations Extrieures Cellule d'Animation
Audio-Visuelle. Armand Gatti: Une Rtrospective.
Paris: ANALEPH, lMT :
Mosby, Aline. "French Culture undergoing sweeping Changes."
The San Juan Star, 20 April 1982, p. 5, cols. 1-3.
Mossuz, Janine. Andr Malraux et le gaullisme. Paris;
Armand Colin^ 1970.
"The New Philosophers." Time, 12 Sept. 1977, pp. 29-30.
"A New Right Raises its Voice: Science and Paganism at the
Service of a Reactionary Doctrine." Time, 13 August
1979, p. 31.
ores, Dominique. "Gatti, une dramaturgie en suspens."
Les Lettres Nouvelles (Sept.-Oct. 1969), pp. 173-183.
Poirot-Delpech, Bertrand. "Chant public devant deux
chaises lectriques' d'Armand Gatti." In Au soir le
soir: Thtre 1960-1970. Paris: Mercure de France,
lSSS", pp.'186-189".
"Que demande le peuple. In Au soir le soir:
Thtre 1960-1970. Paris: Mercure de France, 1969,
p; 240.
"Que ferez-vous en Mai?" In Au soir le soir:
Thtre 1960-1970. Paris: Mercure de France, 1969,
pp. 243-246.


6
At the time of the interview Gatti had written about twenty-
seven plays of which nineteen had been published.
The facts about Gatti's activities during the 1960s are
well known, yet no study has been made of his themes and
techniques in relation to the political and intellectual
context of the period. This I propose to do, limiting my
attention to La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G.,
Chant public devant deux chaises lectriques, Vcomme
Vietnam, and Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise.
These four major plays were seen by large audiences and
best illustrate his themes and techniques. They provide
excellent examples of the close relationship between popular
theater and the political and intellectual trends in France.
Before considering these plays in detail, however, I shall
first review the political and cultural background of the
de Gaulle years and discuss the development of popular
theater in France, especially with reference to the influ
ence of Brecht.


190
however, rarely expressed the vitality and commitment evi
dent in Gatti1s plays (Benedetto's plays being perhaps a
noteworthy exception).
A year after Copfermann's article appeared, Alfred
Simon cited as successful results of improvisations and col
lective creations Jean-Louis Barrault's Rabelais, Ariane
Mnouchkine* s Les Clowns, and Roger Planchn's La Mise en
2
pieces d 'Cid'. In reference to Planchn's play he
stated:
La mise en pieces du Cid est sortie toute arme du
happening de Mai, apothose en forme de liquidation.
Avec une verve inouie, Roger Planchn met la machi-
nerie du theatre en delire. Celui qui est le plus
grand crateur du moment et un guide de 1'action
thtrale salue la fin du theatre dans un vieux monde
qui n'en finit pas de finir, clebre le grand dsarroi,
transforme le crmonial du nant en kermesse.-*
Simon did not think the class struggle should be made the
dynamic force of plays. According to him, dogmatic Brechtism
and activism of the Left, even though they influenced a rela
tively small portion of the repertory of the popular theater,
rendered this type of theater vulnerable to attacks from
reactionaries. He instead called for a popular theater for
pleasure, not by principle, since a theater without a public
makes it impossible for theater to serve any purpose in the
Alfred Simon, "Thtre et dsastre; qui croit encore
au thtre populaire?" Esprit, 393 (June 1970), pp. 1140-41.
3
Simon, p. 1149.


142
nothing to stop it. Gatti's aim is to point up injustices
so that each member of the audience in his or her own daily
life will take action against such injustices.
In Lyon Gatti has actors, acting as actors, incarnate
the characters Webster Thayer the judge, Fuller the gover
nor, and Stewart the police Commissioner, since spectators
would not identify with those who directly caused the
deaths of the innocent anarchists.^ During the supposed
intermission on stage Derlinski, the theater director in
Lyon, plays a recording of the song Chant sur la Colline
aux Cerises. Supposedly, Sacco sang this song as a greet
ing when Vanzetti was brought to death row in the Charles
town prison. Since they were not allowed to see or talk
to each other, Vanzetti understood Sacco's greeting and
joined in the singing.
Other props like the recording of the song are impor
tant in this play. In the beginning of the second half of
the play huge portraits of Sacco and Vanzetti are lowered
from the flies to represent the symbolic presence of the
two anarchists. At the end of the play, two large por
traits of Sacco and Vanzetti are again lowered from the
flies. Then a recorded voice representing Vanzetti states
his last words before being executed: "Notre condamnation
est devenue notre carriere. Elle sera notre russite.
15
Gatti, Chant public, preface, p. 15,


18
Sartre's line of reasoning. Sartre's own plays, which
illustrate his existentialist philosophy, emphasize the
subjective view of characters and use traditional theater
techniques.
Sartre does, however, express opinions about the
intellectual's position in society which are similar to
those of Walter Benjamin, an advocate of Brecht. Sartre
perceives a contradiction within the ideological and
political framework in which an intellectual uses his know-
18
ledge. The intellectual receives a general education in
a particular society which has an interest in perpetuating
an ideology of classes. This bourgeois ideology instills in
an intellectual from childhood on a racist attitude and a
humanism it presents as being universal. But the profession
of the intellectual as a writer entails exposing the truth,
the facts, and the contradictions in society. Therefore a
conflict exists between the bourgeois ideology and the role
of the intellectual. To free himself from this contradic
tion the intellectual must take a radical position on issues.
If the intellectual lives this contradiction without
questioning it, Sartre believes he is actually defending the
ideology and is not an intellectual. However the writer
who sees the contradiction and takes steps to combat it is
an intellectual.
18
Jean-Paul Sartre, "Intellektuelle und Revolution,"
Neues Forum, 211-212 (June-July 1971), p. 34.


72
permits the revelation of "being." In this instance
imagination, chance, and the unforeseen are restored as an
opening toward the unlimited possibilities of man to act
upon himself and nature. Lefebvre means here especially
the interpretation of history as a cultural or political
(ideological) system.
The problem of "getting out" of history, or the domi
nant ideology's idea of history, and of inverting the con
stituted system should be dealt with by an urban revolution.
It is the urban section which will perhaps make it possible
for a new humanism to succeed the death of man achieved by
the industrial society and its bureaucratic society of con-
29
sumers. As defined by Lefebvre, the urban revolution
implies a reversing or transforming of all social structures
and relations in the society, and the destruction of power.
The urban revolution will destroy obstacles which reduce
differences to particularities and which mask the different
ways of living in an urban society.
In many respects Lefebvre's ideas coincide with those
of the new left. According to him the idea of liberal
pluralism focuses attention on particularities, not dif
ferences. In this way it reflects them as being unimportant
in relation to the homogenity, should such particularities
present a menace to the continuation of the order,
29
Vachet, pp. 414-18.


199
Other similarities exist between Godard's experiments
and themes and Gatti's. Godard uses parallels, juxtaposi
tion, contrasts, counterpoint and films within films to
express his themestechniques which Gatti also uses. Both
authors are concerned with a critical view of and for
society, with particular interest focused on the spectator's
viewpoint. And, structural elements are used to communicate
political themes and intellectual trends.
Influenced by Brecht's and Althusser's theories,
Godard has chosen to question the existing set of produc
tion relations: the financing of films, the methods of pro
duction and distribution, and the organization of sounds and
images which composes the films themselves. He tries to
analyze what relations are at work in the production process
in order to question how it is possible to make films polit
ically instead of making political films. In the 1970s both
Gatti and Godard, working outside the established distribu
tion system, made video films which were aired on French
television. During the 1970s, a radical critique of society
appeared more often in films and film reviews than in French
theater. The similarities between Godard's and Gatti's in
tentions and experimentation, however, result most likely
from the political and intellectual climate discussed pre
viously. Godard's experimentation is based on complex
theoretical analyses whereas Gatti's expression is largely
based on his personal experiences.


147
reasons in Hamburg, becomes Madeiros. Madeiros was the
young robber who told the police it was the Morelle brothers
who killed the cashiers Sacco and Vanzetti were accused of
murdering. The authorities did not accept his testimony
and executed him along with Sacco and Vanzetti.
In Auguste G. Gatti depicts the cruelty and violence
in a working-class district, in Chant public he shows the
dignity and heroism of workers. Vastadour-Vanzetti states:
J'ai beaucoup parl de moi, et j'en ai presque
oubli Sacco. Lui aussi est un ouvrier qui a tout
sacrifi la cause; son argent, ses ambitions, sa
femme, ses enfants, sa vie. [Ni lui, ni moi],
n'avons jamais mange, de notre enfance a ce jour,
un morceau de pain que la sueur de notre front
n'ait gagnjamais, (p. 132)
Motivated by his personal experience of being raised in a
slum, Gatti has become informed about anarchists, union
movements, revolutionary movements, and historical periods
related to such actions. Also because of his background,
Gatti was not conditioned by the traditional French culture
other playwrights of the 1960s experienced, and thus he
brings a different point of view to the theater. Similari
ties do exist, however, between Gatti and Jean Genet.
Because of their personal experiences (Genet spent many
years in jail as a criminal), they view society from the
outside, and both playwrights are critical of the French
society in which they function. Genet's plays deal indi
rectly with the themes of culture (Les Ngres) in conflict
with images of oneself, and the class struggle


90
and to build unity within the Gaullist organizations.
Furthermore, Malraux was one of* the principal authors of
the large Gaullist meetings for presidential and legislative
campaigns which took place in Paris on 15 December 1965,
21 January 1967, and 20 June 1968 and were known for their
spectacular effect and orchestration.
In the framework of the Gaullist party, Malraux inter
preted the mission of France to be the creation of a Eur-
africa which would equilibrate the strength of the two
superpowers. The role assigned to France was that of an
essential player on a global scale where the principal
actors were civilizations. Culture and particularly the
culture of France was viewed as a motivating force of
evolution. The role Malraux assigned to culture gradually
became more precise and was eventually formulated as the
great unifying myth which would make all the inhabitants of
the earth an immense fraternity. Gaullism gave him the
sufficient support necessary to present culture as the
great force of union which he believed had been hidden until
then by ideologies and religions.
Cultural Action
The political debate about the role of cultures and the
role of the intellectual continued throughout the 1960s.
Pierre Gaudibert in his Action culturelle: integration et/ou
subversion (1972) reviews the conflict between the animateurs
and the government administrators which arose as a result of


10
play Die Massnahme (The Measures Taken), Brecht and Eisler
transformed the concert form by changing the use of estab
lished musical and literary techniques. In addition, the
form of Brecht's epic theater causes the spectator to take
part in producing the play. Brecht consciously controls
the theater techniques he uses; he uses songs and montage
to "distance" the spectator from the play. These means of
interruption in the structure of the play permit the spec
tator to discover relationships. Benjamin believes that
Brecht changed the relationship between the stage and the
audience, the text and the presentation, and the director
and the actor by creating an epic theater which presents
situations instead of developing plots.
Benjamin also raises the problem of the role of the
5
intellectual m changing society. In 1934 he sees the dif
ference between the author and the public begin to disap
pear in the Soviet press; the reader is ready to become the
writer in what Benjamin calls the "literization" of living
relations. He believes the establishment of the author as a
producer would have to begin by the use of the press. How
ever, since the bourgeois educational system gives writers a
means of production which makes them a part of that class,
it is difficult for intellectuals to become proletarian.
Therefore, if the press remains in the hands of the
5
Benjamin, pp. 100; 115.


191
society. Simon indicated the direction some French theater
groups took after 1968. Roger Planchn's troupe is the most
important example.
Planchn sought to survive in order to have the right
to continue practicing theater. His Thtre de la Cit
became the TNP in Lyon in 1973. It is also true that the
political climate in France had changed and many audiences
preferred to see a beautiful, comical spectacle rather than
hear social and political rhetoric. During the 1970s,
Planchn periodically staged plays he had written in the
1960s, and his adaptions of French Classics or Shakespeare's
4
plays. In 1979 the TNP in Lyon produced Antoine et Cloptre.
The theme of the adaption was to show that Shakespeare can
not be accepted literally; his true meaning can only be
understood through the art of film, which by definition is
completely fabricated and accepted in its falseness. In the
play the action was moved to America in the 1930s and a film
was built around a Shakespearean scenario. Planchn's work
and inspiration during the 1970s were basically derived from
his experimentation in the 1960s.
Ariane Mnouchkine has been active in the theater since
the early 1960s. Her troupe, the Theatre du Soleil, first
became well known with its production of Arnold Wesker's
Michel Corvin, "Illusions scnique et illusions
thtrales sur la mise en scene contemporaine," Stanford
French Review, 3, 2 (Fall 1979), 153.


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski was born 18 March 1943 in
Midland, Michigan. She completed a bachelor's degree in
1965 in German at the University of Michigan after spending
her junior year abroad in Munich, Germany. During 1968-1969
she attended courses at the Sorbonne in Paris while enrolled
at the University of Illinois. The following year she com
pleted a master's degree in French at the University of
Illinois. In October 1982 she submitted her dissertation on
the subject of "Armand Gatti and Political Trends in French
Theater under de Gaulle (1958-1968)" to the University of
Florida and she received a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and
Literatures with German as her minor area of study in Decem
ber of the same year.
Her teaching experience includes having taught lower-
division courses in German as an instructor at the Univer
sity of South Florida (1971-1973), and numerous under
graduate courses in French as a teaching assistant at the
University of Illinois (1969-1970), and at the University of
Florida (1973-1974; 1981); and, as an instructor at the
University of South Florida (1971-1973) and New Mexico State
University (1979).
Her interests are contemporary German and French liter
ature, and theater techniques and interpretation.
214


34
Brecht's Les Visions de Simon Marchar (Theatre de la
Commune at Aubervilliers)and La Neige au milieu de l't
and Le Voleur de fentmes by Kuan-Han-Ching (Theatre de
Sartrouville) directed by Patrice Chreau.One produc
tion denounced racism, one gave a cruel image of France
under the Occupation, and the third showed man trapped in
an iniquitous social order. Yet Saurel questioned how
effective popular theater was when stating:
On voudrait tre sr que ce thtre critique,
historique, ne se limite pas au temps de la
reprsentation donne au nom d'une "culture" en
train de passer au stade industriel et, hlas,
aux mains des affairistes, qu'il en reste un
ferment actif, un levain qui modifie le specta-
teur, si peu que ce soit, pour que celui-l
1'occasion, accepte le combat direct. Mais qui
peut affirmer que tous ces mythes, ces fables,
ce rpertoire pique, didactique, que ce travail
effectu par des hommes qui croient ce quils
font c'est le cas de Garran, de Valverd,
de Chreau ne demeure lettre morte.^
Since in Gaullist France one was staging plays by
Brecht, Gatti, and Adamov in state-supported theaters, it
appeared to Saurel that the popular theater offered the
government the opportunity to recuperate any contestation
while giving the impression of being a very liberal admin
istration. In the same article she concluded:
Renee Saurel, "Les Fils de Brecht et les fils
d'Artaud," Les Temps Modernes, 260 (Jan. 1968), p. 1308.
12 Saurel, "Les Fils de Brecht," p. 1316.


CHAPTER VI
ARMAND GATTI: FRENCH PLAYWRIGHT OF THE 1960s
Since 1969 French theater critics have tended to ignore
Armand Gatti's importance as a playwright for understanding
French political theater during the 1960s. Denis Bablet
in his pictorially exceptional book Les Rvolutions sc-
niques du XXe sicle (1975) documents influence of German
and Russian theater of the 1920s and 1930s on French theater
of the 1960s. The political aspects of the popular theater
movement, however, are reduced to generalizations when, for
example, he states:
Le thtre d'aujourd'hui ne rompt pas avec le pass,
mme s'il le conteste. II lui arrive plus souvent au
contraire de la prolonger, souvent de faire
entrer dans le concret ce qui n'tait quide entre-
vue ou rve utopique, et cela grce au progrs des
moyens techniques. On retrouve dans maints spec
tacles modernes 1'influence--ou simple prsence
implicitede principes chers aux renovateurs du
dbut de ce sicle.
Bablet does not discuss the spirit in which theater activists
initiated experimentation with new techniques in popular
theater. He indirectly mentions Gatti only once when he
Denis Bablet, Les Rvolutions scnique du XXe sicle
(Paris: Socit internationale d'art XXe sicle, 1975),
p. 286.
113


59
place through a process of refusing pseudouniversal ideol
ogies in the name of revolutionary particularism. From the
new leftists' point of view we no longer have a generalized
conception of a civilization capable of inspiring a unified
individual to revolt. Instead, we have a many-sided revolu
tionary praxis, carried on simultaneously at every level
and consisting of a multiplicity of projects, each creating
new institutions, new identities, and new organs of direct
democracy.
What was called cultural revolution in the 1960s was
the reinvigoration of the endeavors launched by past gener
ations of revolutionaries. New problems posed by the con
temporary world crisis were taken up by the struggles asso
ciated with the idea of a new left and posed by it on a
level which was largely limited to the aesthetic or imag
inary realm. These included reappropriating the integrity
of our individual and social dimensions through the release
of suppressed creative needs and passions by the liberation
of language, and the reassertion of the modes of communica
tion which have been suppressed.
At the height of the new left movement's initial burst
of enthusiasm during the late 1960s, it had seemed that
cultural and political radicalism could be united in the
same effort. In the aftermath of repression and disappoin
ted hope, however, disillusionment set in and this unity
was broken, leaving the political radicals with their ideo
logical slogans and organizations, and the cultural


35
Qu'on le nomine thtre populaire, ou politique, ou
engage, ou de contestation, peu importe, ce qui
apparat c'est que ce thtre se dbat entre les
mailles d'un filet et que les hommes de bonne foi
qui le pratiquent s'puisent, et nous avec eux,
ressasser les termes d'une tragique contradiction.
The contradiction being that playwrights were attacking in
their plays the very government which was financing their
protests. Saurel judged that young directors such as
Lavelli, Garcia, and Savary, who staged an irrational, magic
kind of theater f ceremony or celebration in the line of
Artaud and opposed to Brecht's conception of theater, were
not experiencing a feeling of contradiction and powerless
ness, as were directors such as Chreau, Valverd, or Garran.
It is not the purpose of this study to establish that
one kind of theater in the 1960s was necessarily better than
other kinds. In fact it was the variety of theater experi
mentation in France, including "happenings" and controver
sial interpretations of French classics, which made the
decade exciting. A freedom of expression was common to many
projects. In her book Off-Stage Voices, Bettina Knapp
chooses a cross section of contemporary dramatists active in
the 1960s and classifies them under the following headings:
dramatists of the theater of the absurd (Robert Pinget,
Fernando Arrabal, Jacques Borel); poetic and imagistic
theater (Jean Vauthier, Marguerite Duras, Roland Dubillard,
13
Saurel, wLes Fils de Brecht," p. 1318.


49
Revolution were disbanded and reformed into a single league
of Soviet writers. In the transition from the revolutionary
to the totalitarian phase in Soviet cultural policy men like
Meyerhold were murdered. Under Stalin, socialist realism
became the guiding principle of Soviet cultural policy.
The term "socialist realism" was first used by Maxim
Gorky who had in mind a vague combination of realism and
socialist romanticism.^ Using Gorky's name, Zhdanov,
Stalin's cultural ideologist, speaking at the First Writers'
Congress decreed that socialist realism was to become the
official art doctrine. The concept remained unclear although
bureaucrats and ideologists see it as a combination of a
few basic principles such as "party-mindedness," "folkminded
ness," optimism, and positive heroes. Socialist realism is
actually a political category growing out of a totalitarian
system. It is primarily used as an instrument of mass per
suasion and psychological intimidation. Although the power
of persuasion inherent in art makes the Communists want to
control culture, a socialist realism which seeks to repre
sent reality not as it is but as it ought to be destroys the
power of art.
The totalitarian attempt to control art is not derived
from Marxist theory. According to the Marxist concept of
art as superstructure, the economic base (which includes the
geographic base, social milieu, and race) does not influence
3
Rhle, pp. 78-79.


132
old. This episode is first alluded to on page 27 of the
text. It is not until page 94 that a complete version of
what happened is related. Until that point the spectator
only knows that Auguste feels guilty about the incident and
that he is fearful of the Black Baron who states:
Vous tes tous victimes de la plus grand mysti
fication de l'histoire, une femme qui pour cacher
une crapuleuse grossesse s'est proclamee Vierge.
C'tait tenement norme qu la terre entire
l'a cru (Ne perdez pas confiance, les Ecritures- se
raliseront). (p. 27)
The Baron's statement demystifies religion, but it also
presents sexual relationships as evil and shameful.
The theme of sexual relationships is continually con
nected with the work situation in the play. The disagree
ment between Gamache and Auguste in their private lives con
cerning Laurence, Auguste's wife, parallels their differ
ent opinions about politics. Gamache supports the White
Baron and thinks Auguste should take better care of Laurence
by not getting involved in politics. The link between sex
ual repression, Auguste's guilt, and socio-political repres
sion is suggested concretely when the Black Baron is buried
in a coffin the very day that Auguste is employed by the
sanitation department. The White Baron seems to Auguste to
be the same as the Black Baron except that he looks a little
more prosperous.
Songs, as a Brechtian technique, also play a part in
the structure of Gatti's plays. For example, Angelina, an


20
. 21
critic. Within a text, as well as a text of literary
criticism, he perceives evidence of a continual process of
struggle between the dominant and the dominated going on.
Criticism adopts the mode of commentary on and evaluation
of art, yet matters more as a necessarily incomplete process
toward judgement and evaluation. The critical essay begins
to create the values by which art is judged. Said believes
criticism has above all the responsibility to oppose a mono
centrism which denies plurality and recognizes one idea as
the only idea possible, rather than acknowledge that an
idea in history is always one among many.
Said's view of criticism as being worldly, i.e. the
critic's role being to judge his historical situation, con
tinues the trend of developing a critical attitude toward
literature, culture, ideology and society as expressed by
Brecht, Benjamin, Sartre, and Prvost. This trend to see
the text in relation to history and actual events is,
according to Fredric Jameson, a natural evolution of
22
formalist ideas. He states that Russian Formalism began
during the First World War and disappeared in 1929. After
Edward W. Said, "The Text, the World, the Critic,"
in Textual Strategies; Perspectives in Post-Structuralist
Criticism, ed. Jose Harari (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell
Univ. Press, 1979), pp. 187-88.
22
Fredric Jameson, The Prison House of Language: A
Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1972),
preface pp. ix-x.


123
After he dies the police dump his body in the gutter to
make it appear as though he died as a result of a drunken
brawl.
Although the plot is simple, the structure of the play
and the staging techniques used are necessarily complex to
communicate the confused mental effort of the protagonist.
Auguste G. is divided into four parts designated as I, II,
III, and IV. Out of the fragments of information given in
brief flashbacks, flashpresents and flashforwards, sometimes
contradictory, the audience is obliged to construct the
story of the life of Auguste G. After the opening scene in
which the police intervene to break up a stike at the sani
tation department, the forty-six-year-old Auguste lies
injured on a cot in a special infirmary where he is visible
throughout the rest of the play. His delirious comments
counterpoint the events of his life as staged by other
actors. These scenes of his life are enacted or narrated
by four other Augustes played by different actors: Auguste
at nine years old in the slums of Marseille; Auguste as a
soldier at twenty-one in the First World War; Auguste at
thirty married to Laurence and involved in labor struggles
which lead to his death; and Auguste in old-age happily
retired and living on a pension from the state. Through
Gatti's use of nonlinear theater the spectator experiences
or at least becomes aware of the complex life of a simple
streetcleaner.


195
They were all part of collective writing and depicted dif
ferent ways of seeing the voyage of the peasant Adelin. The
people of the Community expressed themselves as did also
Gatti's group which built a show around the different reali
ties of characters from various villages.
Describing Gatti as a journalist of the theater, Jean
Duvignaud mentioned the Brabant Wallon project when summar
izing Gatti's activities in the following way:
Le seul dramaturge peut-tre qui ait aujourd'hui
compris les exigences d'une recherche pour laquelle
n'existe aucune esthtique (mais les esthtiques
viennent gnralement aprs les crateurs) est
Armand Gatti: lui seul parait avoir boulevers
assez compltement le texte thtral et le travail
de groupe au point d'entreprendre une sorte d'action/
agitation culturelle permanente. Depuis l'anne 1954
o il assiste 1'occasion d'un reportage l'crase-
ment de la revolution du Guatemala par des mercenaires
pays par "1'United Fruit" et qui lui fait crire
Le Quetzal; jusqu'aux toutes rcentes animations de
villages en Belgique en 1973, le chemin de Gatti
n'est pas celui d'un crivain qui mesure lentement
ses effets mais d'un journaliste du thtre qui
ralise compltement le voeu de Barthes d'une analyse
critique de la ralit. Cette oeuvre de contestation
se compose d'anne en anne selon le droulement des
vnements dans le monde, s'emparant ici et l de
tout ce qui peut servir l'efficacit dramatique
'une demarche qui cherche avant tout dnoncer une
situation.
During 1975 Gatti worked with high school students in
the CES (Classe de 1'Enseignement Secondaire) Jean-Lurgat
de Ris-Orangis. For a number of weeks he and his troupe
Jean Duvignaud et" Jean Lagoutte, Le Thtre con-
temporaine: culture :eti contre-culture (Paris: Larousse,
1974), pp. 200-01.


110
the TNP on 18 May 1968 activists voted to support the
Comit d'Action Revolutionnaire in the Odon. This
entailed supporting the action of the students and workers
in their fight against society and its structures, and the
occupation of the Odon as a means of questioning bourgeois
culture. They then organized committees which together
with worker and student committees discussed ways in which
those working in the theater could cooperate in changing
the society.
Armand Gatti, working with a group of theater activists,
tried to create spontaneous reactions in spectators in the
street Mouffetard by performing a montage of events that
had taken place during the Paris Commune. The performance
was interrupted and dispersed by police action. Gatti
received broken arms and other injuries. Under the direc
tion of Ariane Mnouchkine the Thtre du Soleil staged
Arnold Wesker's La Cuisine, which presented revolutionary
traits in everyday life, in factories. The actors and
workers at the Thtre Grard-Philipe in Saint-Denis went
on strike. The Thtre de la Commune at Aubervilliers
voiced its solidarity with students and workers. The
troupe mounted different productions in over fifty factor
ies. The director Gabriel Garran invited the Bread and
Puppet Theater to perform at Aubervilliers.
19
Werner Hildenbrand,
Frankreich," Theater -Heute,
"Theater und Revolution in
7 (July 1968), pp. 3-4.


129
unity among striking workers because of personal disagree
ments; and the police repression serving the interest of
big business. This "distancing" is increased by setting the
action in a working-class district between the First and
Second World Wars, by using episodes which are sometimes
contradictory and nonchronological, by including elements of
fantasy, and by exaggerating actions and characters.
In this nonlinear theater such motifs as fire, virginity,
and route 115, which leads away from poverty to the city
"like a dagger," are repeated in various forms and often
combined in the same scene. A government official comes
from town on route 115 to take part in a funeral procession
for fourty-eight victims of a fire which destroyed three-
fourths of La Vierge. Pauline, who is born during that fire,
later leaves on route 115 after winning the marathon dance
and losing her virginity to the White Baron who sponsored
the dance. During the First World War she dies during a
fire in a whorehouse. Her words are instructive;
Je suis ne de 1'incendie, Auguste mais ce n'est
pas pour cela que je suis partie. Le moment qui
vous a vu naitre, on le retrouve partout dans sa
vie. II met tout autour de vous un nombre croissant
de jalons, si bien qu'il finit par vous enfermer.
Si je suis partie c'est que j'en avais assez de
toute cette crasse. Je savais qu'au bout de la
dpartementale il y avait des bas fins, des chaus-
sures fourres et des hommes qui sentaient bon.
Je voulais tre au chaud.^
Armand Gatti, La Vie imaginaire de l'eboueur
Auguste G., in Thtre III (Paris: Seuil, 1962), p. 23. All


86
Vietnam in the Third World provided the Trotskyite and
the Chinese factions with an argument against the official
Communists. It seemed to show that if the most powerful
nation in the world could be beaten by a small but determined
people, revolution elsewhere was possible. Vietnam also
provided the occasion for confrontation with the university
and the police, and sympathy and support from students which
the political factions would probably otherwise not have
had. For example, the Comits Viet-Nam de Base were set up
to collect a billion francs to buy a hospital ship for
North Vietnam. Catholics and PSU (Parti Socialiste Unifi -
left-wing socialist party) members actively participated in
various Vietnam solidarity committees which effectively
established a network of organization.
The campaign against the Vietnam war occurred in con
junction with the campaign against the new university campus
on the northwestern part of Paris at Nanterre. In May 1968
the spark which touched off the conflict was harsh police
action against a student demonstration. A few student revo
lutionaries from the Nanterre campus, including Cohn Bendit,
were being disciplined by the Rector of Paris University.
More students protested in the courtyard of the Sorbonne.
The police were called to expel them, thousands of students
gathered to demonstrate and many were arrested. Night
after night in May students and riot police fought each
other across barricades in the Latin Quarter. Thousands of
students were injured or arrested. Outside Paris, students


161
the more general sense of a technological machine-oriented
view opposed to a more simple, naturals view. This con
trast is symbolized by the computer and the planche clous
(board with nails in it). The planche a clous represents
not so much a real weapon as a mentality which is seen as
different from that of the Pentagon officials. The North
Vietnamese guerrilla force uses what is at hand in their
daily lives to resist the striking force of the Americans
which uses sophisticated weapons and is directed by govern
ment officials who rely on machines. Gatti presents the
Vietnamese as being more human and individualized than the
officials of the American government whom he satirizes.
Props in V comme Vietnam are used to bring out the
significance of the play. A TV screen is installed within
the huge computer while surrounding it, is a cyclorama con
taining maps which light up the four screens. The total
effect is that of a command post. On the left side of the
stage is a raised platform on which a map of Vietnam is
placed. This structure serves as a staging place for dis
cussions at the Pentagon as well as for events that take
place in Vietnam. Gatti tries to open up the stage. More
over, as in Brecht's drama, accessories become active ele
ments in his productions in order to bring out the real
significance of the play. For example, in this play
Gatti wants to demonstrate that facts and statistics are
5
Ward, pp. 412; 419; 425.


65
represent itself and recognize itself in an uncritical
theater whose ideological material presupposed the formal
conditions for an aesthetic of the consciousness of self as
an identification with the hero. The themes of the classi
cal theater (politics, morality, religion, honor, glory,
passion) are ideological themes. This uncriticized ideology
is, in fact, the myths in which a society can recognize
itself, and the mirror it must break if it is to know itself.
Brecht's principal aim is to produce a critique of the
20
spontaneous ideology in which men live. The dynamic force
of the latent structure in Brecht's plays results from the
relationship existing between the consciousness of self
alienated in spontaneous ideology (mother Courage and her
sons) and the real conditions of their existence (war,
society). This relationship can only be acted and repre
sented as characters, with their gestures, acts, and story
working as structural elements in a play.
According to Althusser, the distance achieved by the
structure of Brecht's great plays .is simply an active and
21
living critique. The play is actually the development and
the production of a new consciousness in the spectator, who
after the end of the performance starts to act and complete
the play in real life.
20
Althusser, Pour Marx,
P
145.
21
Althusser, Pour Marx, p. 151.


74
able to regain its modernism and play an essential role in
an urban revolution which attempts to achieve the realiza
tion of man.
In the 1970s a group of young intellectuals known as
the nouveaux philosophes attacked Marxism as an obsolete
32
ideology that inevitably leads to totalitarianism. One
of the best known of the new philosophers is Bernard-Henri
Lvy, an editor at the Paris publishing house Grasset. He
attacks the promises of Marxism as being empty and the rev
olution as being a myth because the Soviet Union instead of
withering away grew into a reactionary machine. Andr
Glucksmann, another new philosopher, believes ideology
itself is inherently evil and that all the philosophical
systems of the 19th century are outdated because in the
modern world politics do not revolve around visions of
utopia, but rather around specific issues such as colonial
crimes, life in prisons, the drug problem, and the threat of
nuclear plants. Jean-Marie Benoit likewise believes politics
in the future will be more fluid, a world of small cells of
people coalescing on issues that affect them such as
problem-oriented groups related to women1s liberation and
human rights movements. The ideas of the new philosophers
appear to be a critical response to many ideas of the new
32
"The New Philosophers," Time, 12 Sept,
cols. 1-3; p. 30, cols. 1-3.
1977, p. 29,


CHAPTER V
POPULAR THEATER
Theater Decentralization
The socialist dream of a Theatre du Peuple, which had
existed since the French Revolution, had never been real
ized.^" The efforts of men like Romain Rolland had come to
little and the Thtre National Populaire, created by the
government for Firmin Germier in 1920, was unsuccessful from
the outset because of the conditions under which it was
expected to function. It was only in 1951, when Jean Vilar
was appointed director of the Theatre National Populaire
(TNP) by Jeanne Laurent, that a popular theater movement
established itself as a vital element in the French theater.
The success of the TNP consolidated a movement begun
as early as 1945 in the provinces by Jean Dast. Dast and
other producers founded permanent residential companies in
various cities, and later obtained the cooperation of muni
cipalities. Dast formed his group in Grenoble and then
migrated to Saint-tienne (1957) where the municipality was
Dorothy Knowles, "Introduction: Principles of Stag
ing ," in Forces in Modern French Drama: Studies in Varia
tions of the Permitted Lie, ed. John Fletcher (New York:
Frederick Ungar, 1972), pp. 11-32.
96


52
officially approved themes. In July 1954 Hu Feng submitted
his program for liberalization directly to the Central Com
mittee. In the spring of the following year, all the cul
tural groups of the Chinese People's Republic passed reso
lutions denouncing Hu Feng's heresy. He subsequently was
arrested and tried.
Between 1966 and 1968 took place the Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution which dominated events in China for a
decade. It was Mao's third purge of intellectuals and its
stated goal was the eradication of the four evils: old
ideas, old culture, old morality, and old customs. When Mao
perceived a growing hierarchization of administrative and
political structures threatening to reintroduce forms of
privilege and discrimination which had been associated with
capitalism, he used the concept of cultural revolution to
engage the Chinese people in a political struggle to combat
this hierarchization. The Cultural Revolution in China
stressed the importance of ideas and of understanding every
activity in terms of the class struggle. An essential prin
ciple was to combat the division between mental and manual
labor to enable the masses to participate directly in the
ideological struggle. The excesses of the Cultural Revolu
tion in China turned the campaign into a personality cult
around Mao.
In France during the 1960s it was the linking of the
importance of the personal struggle, particularly in the
ideological field, with a commitment to the Third World that.


CHAPTER VIII
1966-1968: V COMME VIETNAM AND LES TREIZE SOLEILS DE
LA RUE SAINT-BLAISE
The two other plays to be discussed, V comme Vietnam
and Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise, illustrate
how Gatti changed from taking an event in the past (death of
a striker between the two World Wars or the execution of
anarchists in 1927) to treating current problems such as the
war in Vietnam and the situation of the individual in the
French consumer society of the 1960s.
Both Auguste G. and Chant public were produced within
the time frame 1962-1966, in a period during which there
was much enthusiasm for popular theater. De Gaulle's pres
tige was rising, at least internationally, as a result of
his politique de la grandeur. Beginning in 1965-1966,
however, critics started questioning the concept of popular
theater and some of de Gaulle's policies. De Gaulle was
reelected on the 2nd ballot, not the first, and the Gaul-
lists failed in municipal elections. In 1966 the Ben Barka
scandal occurred when French police were implicated in his
disappearance. During the same year de Gaulle pulled French
forces out of NATO, visited the U.S.S.R., and continued to
attack the dollar and American actions in Asia. De Gaulles
anti-American attitude was paralleled in France by
156


193
doctors were reenacted. A huge prop of a woman's opened legs
sculptured in wood was the main set design. The Theatre
Populaire de Lorraine used elements of contemporary mass-
media in its parable Le Retour du Graully (1979) about the
capitalist-imperialist aid to underdeveloped nations being
used to repair damage caused by imperialistic policies in
the first place. And, the Theatre Eclat d'Annecy analyzed
Brechtian methods in order to use them in the staging of
the play Soldats by Carlos Reyes. This play, staged in
1979, is about banana workers on strike in Columbia in 1928.
Since the 1960s Andr Benedetto's troupe has been work
ing to create theater for le peuple. His Nouvelle Compagnie
d'Avignon tries to include contemporary aspects and pro
blems of our society in their productions and calls for
popular theater from the people. After 1968 Benedetto's
troupe involved spectators in the process of creation and
production. After several months of collaboration his
troupe and the inhabitants of the city Montauban performed
the play Le Siege de Montauban (1974). This play was in the
tradition of carnivals and popular fairs, with several per
formance areas used simultaneously. Benedetto described his
role as that of a public writer, a term Gatti also used to
describe himself in the late 1970s.
Armand Gatti is unique as a French playwright active in
the popular theater movement. Because he has had problems
producing his plays in state-subsidized theater in France
since 1968 < he has redirected his efforts toward other


118
character Don Tibureio and de Gaulle as being inconsequen
tial when he stated:
Gatti is no polemicist, but a poet who has passed
beyond the most advanced guard of the "new" theater
where character is subordinate to an intensely per
sonal search for identity and human reality, and
where a conventional concept of time and place has
no meaning at all. For an unproduced playwright,
Gatti has an astonishing command of theatrical short
hand. He has made of the mechanics of moving actors
around the stage and establishing a setting an extra
dramatic dimension, an active value, rather than a
deadening pause.5
Gatti's vision distinguished him from his avant-garde con
temporaries because it went beyond despair. Writing in
1960 Merrick thought Gatti would restore universal human
values to a theater that had become increasingly self-
absorbed in the hermetic.
Gatti's first success as a playwright came in 1962
when his play La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G.
was produced. Auguste G., which contains images of Gatti's
childhood and father, relates the existence of a man who
at the moment of his death tries to reconstruct and make
sense out of the events of his life. Roger Planchn
became interested in the play and included it in his pro
gram at the Thtre de la Cit at Villeurbanne in 1962.
At the same time Auguste G. was being produced at Villeur
banne, the Thtre des Clestins was rehearsing Gatti's
Gordon Merrick, "The Toad in the Ointment," The
New Republic, 142, 7 (Feb. 1960), 20.


22
his greatest plays while in exile during the Second World
War, his ideas about the theater, particularly his V-effects,
were influenced by formalist thought and activities in the
Russian theater of the 1920s-30s. Beginning in the
mid-1950s with the Berliner Ensemble's performances in
Paris and the publication of Brecht's Short Organum,
Brecht's ideas about theater inspired many experiments in
the French theater. During the same period, structuralist
thought in France reawakened a critical view of culture,
ideology, and history.
To fully understand the trend toward socio-political
drama influenced by Brecht in the 1960s in France, it is
necessary to review the debate in the theater between
advocates of the theater of the absurd and those of Brech-
tian theater, the renewed interest in Shakespearean plays
viewed as being popular and political, the intellectual
trends which contributed to the development of political
thought in the French theater, the political policies of
de Gaulle in relation to the decentralization of theaters
in France, and the popular theater movement.


revolution, a critique of bourgeois society) and those of
Louis Althusser (class struggle, cultural revolution, and
nondialectic history) appear transposed as themes in Gatti1s
plays. Examples of Gatti's techniques of "distancing" by
interruptions in the structural organization of the text are
interpreted to provide, as in the case of Brecht, a means of
encouraging the spectator to participate in the play by crit
ically judging what is presented. Through the discussion of
Brecht and the new left a connection is made between the
political and literary trends in Germany and Russia in the
1920s-1930s and the political trends in French theater of
the 1960s. The impact of political ideas on the themes of
Gatti's plays is used to elucidate the controversy which
arose concerning the interaction of culture and politics,
and the role of intellectuals and ideologies.
The conclusion describes what occurred in the French
popular theater in the 1970s. With his increased emphasis
on actor and spectator participation, Gatti is shown to be
one of the most radical practitioners of the current return
to a more spontaneous, political theatricality.


102
animateurs de thtre, leur libralisme politique.
Cette apparente gnrosit, loin d'tre une source
de menace pour la scurit du pouvoir, ne fait que
le renforcer.
The title of Philippe Madral's book, Le Thtre hors
les murs (The Theater Outside of: the Walls) refers to the
attitude of the Gaullist government toward theaters in the
suburbs of Paris. This attitude reflected a political atti
tude, since the state manifested an indifference toward
7
theaters promoted by Communist municipalities. Although
Guy Rtor, director of the TEP in the twentieth arrondis-
sement, received some subsidies in the 1960s, none of the
communes in the suburbs of Paris received financial aid
from the state to erect a theater. It was only in the late
1960s that Gabriel Garran, as an individual director,
received a subsidy, and Pierre Dbauche was promised a
maison de la culture.
Aspiring to form a conscious cultural policy, the
municipalities in Aubervilliers, Nanterre, Villejuif, Saint-
Denis, and Sartrouville took upon themselves the heavy
financial burden of supporting a theater. The directors of
these theaters were municipal employees or concessionaires,
an arrangement which gave them risks but also a certain
amount of freedom. Madral published intrviews with the
Temkine cites Lang, p. 133.
7
Philippe Madral, L Theatre hors les murs (Paris:
Seuil, 1969), pp. 21; 43.


108
1 6
during the 1966-1967 theater season. Of 283 plays pro
duced in subsidized and well-known private theaters, only
twelve were listed under political theater. Other cate
gories were classic, vaudeville, dramatic comedies and
drama, social, thesis, poetic, satire and parodies, and new
theater. Under political plays two by Gatti were listed:
Chroniques d'une plante provisoire (Grenier de Toulouse)
and V comme Vietnam (Grenier de Toulouse also at the TEP),
as well as Brecht's La Mere (Grenier de Toulouse). Gabriel
Cousin's 1'Opra noir (Thtre de la Commune at Aubervilliers)
was listed under social plays as was also Arnold Wesker's
La Cuisine (Cirque de Montmartre). Planchn's Bleus,
blancs, rouges ou les libertins (Thtre de la Cit) was
listed under dramatic comedies and dramas. Jean-Louis
Mingalon, who collected the information for the survey, con
cluded that although the troupes of the decentralization
sought a "rpertoire de contestation, de critique, de prise
. 17
de conscience" their concrete results were rather timid.
Even if the productions of Shakespeare's plays were con
sidered to be political, the fact remained that in the
1966-1967 season little experimentation was being done in
this direction.
16
Jean-Louis Mingalon, "Une Saison en France,"
Cit Panorama, 14 (Mar.-May 1968), pp. 6-12.
17
Mingalon, p. 12.


181
Mile. Blanc judges compositions according to her bour
geois culture. For this reason Max Brousse criticizes her
distribution of grades by stating:
Pour moi, vous reprsentez la culture (une certaine
culture qui consiste rchauffer les ftes mortes de
1'esprit), les grandes rvolutions de 1'esprit, dsa-
morces sans le contexte qui leur donnait leur vio
lence et leur inscurit les grandes rvolutions
enfin confortables, habitables, avec robinets pour
eau chaude et eau froide, rfrigrateur et air condi-
tionn. Rien de cette culture balbutiante, colreuse,
gnreuse, qui vient de la lutte de chaqu jour,
avec la parcelle de vrit transitoire trouver
chaqu jour pour reconqurir un peu de chaleur dans
1'indiffrence et la froideur d'un monde qu'on ne
connait pas. Rien a partir de la, nous n'aurons
jamais rien de commun. (pp. 71-72).
The suns reject Mile. Banc's opinions. From the "poubelles
de l'Histoire" (perhaps an indirect contrast to Beckett's
jars and garbage cans) to which their compositions have been
relegated, they start their resistance in the street Saint-
Blaise (p. 72).
The suns search for a new image of themselves and a
new culture. In the process they follow a number of wrong
leads. Genet in his play Les Ngres, in a completely dif
ferent style, suggests how hard it is for a black couple to
express their love without using the images dictated by a
dominant, colonialist culture. The problem of forming a new
identity is related to a critical view of ideology and cul
ture. In a similar manner the suns experience many fail
ures in their attempts to revolutionize society. Introduc
ing the idea of sexual revolution Brousse states: "Krasewki,
vous qui avez peut-tre eu (en son temps) le privilege de


200
During the mid-1970s Gatti did manage to stage a few
plays in France. In 1974 La Tribu des Carcanas en guerre
contre quoi? (Seuil, 1975) was presented at the Thtre
Ouvert at Avignon during the summer festival. In March 1976
Gatti presented in a private theater La Passion du general
Franco par les emigres eux-memes, an updated version of the
play banned in December 1968. And, in 1977 Gatti's play
Le Cheval qui se suicide par le feu (1977, Editions IRMMAD)
was presented at the Thtre Ouvert at Avignon during the
summer festival of 1977.
In the projects which Gatti has undertaken since 1970,
whether video films or plays, his constant themes and
techniques of distanciation are used even though the parti
cipation of the spectator is developed further. The "col
lective" work of Gatti's "Tribu" with communities, school
groups, or workers is definitively guided by Gatti's inspir
ation. The methods of work, means of expression, themes
developed and techniques used are Gatti's. This apparent
contradiction is elucidated by Gatti's definition of collec
tive writing.^ Gatti's idea of collective writing is one
plus one plus one, that is different creations of! individuals
who work together because they are motivated by the same
purpose. His contribution is to write the texts. Each
member contributing individually makes the whole project
14
Marc Kravetz
Liberation, July 21,
"Dialogue avec Armand Gatti
1979, col. 6, p. 13.
II


29
production of Ionesco's La Cantatrice chauve (1950). Subse
quently Jacques Mauclair, with Victimes du devoir (1953)
and Les Chaises (1956), helped to establish Ionesco in the
theater. Jean-Marie Serreau staged Amde ou comment s'en
debarrasser (1954) and La So'if' et la faim (1966) of Ionesco.
Roger Blin began his career with Artaud, then formed an
association with Samuel Beckett. He produced Beckett's
En attendant Godot (1953), Fin de partie (1957), La Derniere
Bande (1960) for the TNP (Rcamier), and Oh Les beau jours
(1963) for Madeleine Renaud at the Thtre de France. He
also produced Jean Genet's Les Ngres in 1959. Absurd
plays continued to be frequently staged during the 1960s
particularly in private theaters and at the Thtre de
France directed by Jean-Louis Barrault.
During the 1960s innovative European theater was domina
ted by two contending influences: the Brechtian (or epic)
and the absurd. Ionesco, who called the Brechtians propa
gandists distorting the truth in the interest of their polit
ical cause, was pitted against Kenneth Tynan, Sartre,
Adamov, and the collaborators of the review Thter Popu-
laire. Left-wing playwrights and critics who were enthu
siasts of Brecht attacked the works of Beckett and Ionesco,
stating they neglected social issues.
Martin Esslin believes this was a false controversy
because, for him, drama is concerned with recreating human
states of emotion that permit audiences to experience


87
occupied universities and demanded greater autonomy for
universities from Parisian control, and greater student
participation. The unrest then spread to the workers. By
the third week in May over half the industrial labor force
was on strike and hundreds of factories were occupied by
the workers. After a long silence, de Gaulle's address to
the nation on May 24th called for a referendum in June on
reform of the universities and participation by workers
(co-gestion) in the economy. The public voted against it.
Workers had declared a general strike because they
shared some of the students' complaints against the system
and had grievances of their own. In 1967 the workers were
forced to accept an increase in social security contributions
to help pay for the farmers brought into it by a previous
extension of the system. These increases were imposed by
administrative decree without discussion in parliament.
The rapid modernization of the country had brought some
unemployment in certain sectors and workers suspected that
the Budget and the Plan had allowed for more unemployment
than necessary so that while holding down inflation and
reducing tariff barriers in the Common Market, de Gaulle
could accumulate gold and develop the H-Bomb. In the private
sector there was unemployment; in the public sector wages
were held down as part of the stabilization plan, the mini
mum wage varied from region to region and had lagged behind
the cost of living.


180
superficial selfimage, and who are incapable of critical
reflection about social issues. The idea of revolution in
a consumer society is made to appear frivolous in contrast
to the idea of political revolution when Berque talks about
"une cuisinire hublot panoramique" being described as
revolutionary and then adds: "Ce serait bien tonnant que
les femmes de la rue Saint-Blaise fassent la revolution avec
des mitraillettes. (C'est bon pour les pays sous-dvelopps.)
Vous n'avez qu' voir les journaux" (p. 47). In contrast to
the committees' findings about the consumer society Max
Brousse (soleil marginal) calls for the "multiform" that is,
the acceptance of all possibilities in a pluralistic society
as opposed to one represented by a dominant ideology. His
comment introduces the theme of a dominant bourgeois culture
as represented by the school teacher Mile. Blanc.
With a whip in hand, Mile. Blanc strikes out sen
tences of the student compositions which she considers unin
teresting. "At this point the "Ballade de l'Echelle" is
repeated, thus interconnecting social-cultural-ideological
domination and economic domination. Mile. Blanc forces
Rouget, who wrote his composition about the Paris Commune,
the first workers' revolution, to assume the position of a
horse. She then climbs on his back and clacks her whip as
he pretends to gallop. Perhaps this concrete image of dom
ination does not succeed as a visual image, but the staging
reminds one of Genet's Le Balcn and Ionesco's La Legn.
Once more Gatti seems to draw attention to the theater as
theater.


212
"'La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G.. .'
d'Armand Gatti." In Au soir le soir: Thtre 1960-1970
Paris: Mercure de France, 1969, pp. 132-133.
Prvost, Claude. "Littrature et idologie." Nouvelle
Critique, 57 (Oct. 1972), pp. 16-23.
Rhle, Jrgen. Literature and Revolution: A Critical Study
of the Writer and Communism in the Twentieth Century.
Trans. Jean Steinberg of rev. ed. New York: Frederick
A. Prager, 1969.
Said, Edward W. "The Text, the World, the Critic." In
Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist
Criticism. Ed. Jos V. Karari. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell
Univ. Press, 1979, pp. 161-188.
Sandier, Giles. "Thtre populaire?" La Quinzaine Lit-
traire, 50 (1-15 May 1968), p. 26.
Sartre, Jean-Paul. "Intellektuelle und Revolution." Neues
Forum, 211 and 212 (June-July 1971), pp. 33-38.
Thtre pique et thtre dramatique." In Un
Thtre de situations. Eds. Michel Contat and MicEel
Rybalka. Paris: Gallimard, 1973, pp. 105-151.
Saurel, Rene. "Les Fils de Brecht et les fils d'Artaud."
Les Temps Modernes, 260 (Jan. 1968), pp. 1308-1319.
, "Avec Gignoux, Planchn et Rtor." Les Temps
Modernes, 282 (Jan. 1970), pp. 1117-1124.
"Sur la colline aux cerises, 'Chant public
devant deux chaises lectriques' d'Armand Gatti au
T.N.P.," Les Temps Modernes, 238 (1966), pp. 1671-1672.
Schifres, Alain. "Armand Gatti," Ralits, 188 (1966),
pp. 65-69.
Simon, Alfred. "Thtre et dsastre; qui croit encore au
thtre populaire?" Esprit, 393 (June 1970),
pp. 1136-1137.
Temkine, Raymonde. "Le Thtre, service public?" La Pense
144 (Apr. 1969), pp. 131-135.
Vachet, Andr. "De la fin de l'histoire 1'analyse dif-
frentielle: La Rvolution urbaine (les derniers
ouvrages d'Henri Lefebvre)." Dialogue, 11, 3 (Sept.
1972), 400-419.


CHAPTER II
BRECHT IN FRANCE
In the 1960s French playwrights and critics with
knowledge of Brecht's epic theater brought into being a new
movement in the French theater which made possible an enthu
siastic reception of Gatti's plays. Gatti's experimentation
in the theater concerning the structure of his plays, and
the techniques and devices used to stage them,would not
have been possible without the decentralization of the
theater in France, the notion of popular theater connected
with it, and an interest in the plays and theoretical works
of Bertolt Brecht.
Brecht became the cited example of a number of theater
directors and critics. Jean Vilar, who had produced Mre
Courage at the TNP as early as 1951, was impressed by
Brecht's remarks for the staging of his plays, although he
disregarded Brecht's theories on dramatic art. Roger
Planchn, who met with Brecht in the summer of 1955, took
Brecht's style of direction and theater interpretation as
a model. The interest in Brecht and popular theater promp
ted the founding of the review Thtre Populaire by the pub
lisher Arche. Contributors to this review were the most
enthusiastic defenders of Brecht's epic theater. Jean
Duvignaud, Jean Paris, Bernard Dort, Roland Barthes,
23


106
Also sounding like a political activist, Jos Valverd,
director of the Theatre Grard-Philipe at Saint-Denis, said
in March 1968 that there was a battle being waged in the
theater by people like Planchn and Dort against the ten
dency of Artaud. He considered theater people who followed
the Artaud trend to be participating in the desire of the
bourgeoisie to draw the French intelligentsia towards irra
tionalism. ^
From the point of view of Marxist critique, Valverd
believed a theater production should not be judged in iso
lation from its historical context, but rather in relation
to the two opposing currents (Brecht and Artaud) and the
problems posed by the class struggle. He also believed the
majority of the society, including the working class,
actually lived ideologically on the representation of the
world as erected by bourgeois morals. According to him it
was significant that the majority of films with a large
popular success present an ideology which rendered as
natural and unquestionable social phenomena such as the
riches of some and the economic exploitation of others.
Among other works, Valverd's troupe staged Brecht's
Mere Courage (1966), Adamov's La Politique des restes
(1966), and Shakespeare's Romo et Juliette (May 1969).
13
Madral, p. 129.


68
la systematisation, ce qui n'exclut as les con
tradictions, voire les incoherences.^
From the viewpoint of sociology, Lefebvre believes ideolo
gies are essential elements of cultures and civilizations.
Yet, in his L1Ideologic structuraliste (1971), he views
structuralist ideology as being the harmful ideology of
24
those m power between 1960 and 1970. In his opinion the
approach of the structuralists neglected real processes and
real problems in the society.
Although the intelligentsia in France are on the left,
it is often the right which filters the ideas of the left
to adopt them to the existing social relations. In the case
of structuralist thought Lefebvre views the retreat of intel
lectual thought towards the archeology of social sciences,
that is the return to primitive cultures, as a means of
escaping the present by finding the actual time in the
archaic. By doing this, intellectuals indirectly disavowed
the aspirations of the Third World. Lefebvre also thinks
the attempts to try and "structure" the modern society by
such means as the coupure pistemologique and other mental
concepts worked to conserve the established order. Concern
ing many structuralists preoccupations with language
Henri Lefebvre, Le Langage et la Socit (Paris:
Gallimard, 1966), p. 321.
Henri Lefebvre, L1IdeoTogie structuraliste (Paris:
Anthropos, 1971, pp. 10-11.


184
his composition. This episode ends Mile. Blanc's "nightmare
of being attacked by her students. Herv's composition
topic also reassures her because it reflects the influence
of detective stories, an accepted form of cultural diversion
In addition, Herv leaves one sun undefined. Doussel then
becomes this sun and therefore succeeds in liberating her
self from established, accepted, fixed forms of bourgeois
culture. Doussel will start her courses by basing them on
the salesgirl in a dairy, who created her. She concludes:
Peut-tre la seule rvolution solaire laquelle
(dans notre tat) nous puissions prtendre c'est
de nous inventer une culture (la fabriquer avec
ce que nous sommes). A Eugne Varlin. Les
ouvriers relieurs reconnaissants." C'est avec cette
inscription de la montre qu'elle a commenc. (p. 117)
Varlin's watch was taken from his body after he was executed
during the period of repression following the Paris Commune
in 1871. Supposedly a rich bourgeois wore it and showed it
at dinner parties. For Gatti, Varlin remains a symbol like
Sacco and Vanzetti "hanging in suspense," still alive in
the sense that he inspires others to continue the history of
workers' struggles. Their history and their point of view
has not yet been written. Doussel must begin with what was
inscribed by Varlin's coworkers because even Varlin's grue
some death is described in history by a bourgeois writer
for whom Varlin is a hero merely of past history. For Gatti
the past is a living part of the present and the future.
Therefore Varlin's struggle must be viewed in terms of con
temporary revolutionary struggles.


208
Benmussa, Simone. "Le Thtre des metteurs en scne."
Cahiers Renaud-Barrault, 74 (1971), pp. 58-64.
Benot, Yves. "Le Thtre d'Armand Gatti et l'inquitude
contemporaine." La Pense, 128 (1966), pp. 119-132.
Brewster, Ben. "From Shklovsky to Brecht: A Reply."
Screen, 15, 2 (summer 1974), 82-102.
Brook, Peter. The Empty Space. New York: Avon, 1969.
Brown, Bruce. Marx, Freud, and the Critique of Everyday
Life: Toward a Permanent Cultural Revolution.
New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973.
Cohn, Ruby. Currents in Contemporary Drama. Bloomington:
Indiana Univ. Press, 1969.
"Le Colloque de Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne 'Dans les maisons
de la culture le pouvoir doit tre remis aux cra-
teurs' dclare Roger Planchn.'" Dernire Heure
Lyonnaise, 19 March 1968, p. 8, cols. 1-3.
Copfermann, Emile. "La Rsistible Dcouverte du thtre
de Monsieur Bertolt Brecht en France." Les Lettres
Frangaises, 1276 (26 Mar.-2 Apr., 1969), pp. 14-15.
Corvin, Michel. "Illusions scnique et illusions thtrale:
Sur la mise en scne contemporaine." Stanford French
Review, 3, 2 (fall 1979), 145-160.
Devarrieux, Claire. "Nous somme tous des chats gurilleros."
Le Monde, 27 Nov. 1975, p. 15, cols. 1-4.
Dort, Bernard. "Brecht devant Shakespeare." Revue d'Histoire
de Thtre, 1 (1965), pp. 69-75.
"Les 'Nouveaux Thtres' A l'heure du choix."
Les Temps Modernes, 239 (Apr. 1966), pp. 1826-1855.
Duprs, Georges. "Le Thtre malade de la culture."
Partisans, 36 (Feb.-Mar. 1967) pp. 22-27.
Duryce, Annick Jourdan. Armand Gatti: Un Thtre nouveau
pour un public nouveau. Doctoral dissertation Columbia.
Onlyrsity1971.
Duvignaud, Jean. L'Acteur: Esquisse d'une sociologie du
comdien. 2nd ed. Paris: Gallimard, 1974.
Sociologie du thtre: Essais sur les ombres
collectives. 2nd rev. ed. Paris: PUF, 1974.


165
aid ceux qui l'taient. Depuis on nous a demand
de quitter nos terres pour nous couper de la
guerilla. Nous avons refuse. Le village a t
bombard et mis derrire les barbeles. Nos terres
ont t passes au bulldozer et sont devenues la
base de Kien Cuong. (p. 16)
The town Kien Cuong is the focal point of the action which
links the Vietnamese directly to the Pentagon. The Viet
namese guerrillas are able to attack the air base by infil
trating the hameau strategique from which they dig tunnels
to attack the military installation.
In the play Gatti presents the social, economic, and
political issues from the point of view of the Vietnamese.
The razing of the town Kien Cuong by American bulldozers
destroys part of the history and culture of the villagers..
In contrast to the Vietnamese conception of history and
their attachment to the land, Dr. XXX states: "Ecrit l'his-
toire celui qui gagne la guerre" (p. 28). Quadrature
replies that when the U.S. will be in "hyperhistory"
there will be 200 possible versions of history and the com
puter will choose the one most adapted to the circumstances.
Here Gatti is humorously criticizing the structuralist
models of history as well as the language chosen by poli
ticians to describe events.
Humor as well as criticism also occurs when President
Johnson as Mgasheriff enters the Pentagon and a coin is
put into the computer to create a Texan atmosphere by
playing Western music. Other characters on stage sit


37
the Elizabethan theater which appeared to him to be an antic
ipation of epic theater.^ According to Dort, everything
that was at hand could be included in Shakespeare's tragedy:
everyday events, tales of crime, history, legends, politics
and philosophy. Brecht also liked the fact that Shakespeare1 s
plays were not only adaptations of earlier works, but they
even contained in them whole fragments of former works. To
Brecht they appeared to be constructed according to the
basic technique of montage which permits including the
heterogeneous elements present in epic literature. Brecht
was also intrigued by Shakespeare's theater because it
could be considered to be a product of collective work, a
work which was never definitive since it was always open
to revisions. Furthermore, Brecht noted in Shakespeare's
plays V-effects: roles of women were played by men and the
countryside was not imitated by dcor but instead described
by the poet in the middle of the action.
In an article appearing in 1959 in Cit Panorama, a
review published by the Thtre de la Cit at Villeurbanne,
the reasons why Planchn's troupe found it particularly
appropriate to stage Shakespeare's Henry IV were stated as
follows:
- Parce que le "temps dangereux" o vcut
Shakespeare n'est pas sans ressembler au ntre.
16
Dort, p. 70.


100
because of debts, and Marcel-Noel Marchal was in severe
financial trouble in Lyon.
Inspired by the events of May and by criticism from
the new left, theater people called together by Roger
3
Planchn formed the Council of Villeurbanne (25 May 1968).
This group consisted of most of the cultural house direc
tors and popular theater animateurs. In what was a general
questioning of the purpose of the cultural houses and the
popular troupes, the council members issued a joint mani
festo. In it they stated the belief that in order to
reach the workers or "nonpublic" (FrancisJeanson's expres
sion) they should not simply be distributors of a bourgeois
heritage. Instead, they should be centers of an actively
creative culture in every field, especially in theater.
Moreover, their creativity was to have a greater social and
political basis. As the 1960s came to a close, the talk
was less of maisons de la culture than that of maIsons
eclatees or "splintered" houses. Rather than more buildings
of the "cathedral" type, the idea was to establish numerous
cells that could more easily penetrate masses of people.
There was also more emphasis on participatory projects:
studios, workshops, or other devices which would involve
the public more actively.
3
Lee, pp. 108-09.


ARMAND GATTI AND POLITICAL TRENDS IN FRENCH
THEATER UNDER DE GAULLE (1958-1978)
BY
BONNIE LAURIE PYTLINSKI
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1982

Copyright 1982
By
Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski

To my husband
Jerzy Teodor Pytlinski

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The guidance, advice and foresight of Dr. Raymond
Gay-Crosier of the Department of Romance Languages and
Literatures in the orientation of the subject presented
were of paramount importance and made this dissertation
possible. The interest and thoughtful remarks of Dr. Wayne
Connor of the same Department and of Dr. Otto Johnston of
the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Liter
atures were of great assistance throughout the writing pro
cess. Finally, the review of the dissertation by Dr. Hal
Rennert of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages
and Literatures is greatly appreciated.
IV

TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER PAGE
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iv
ABSTRACT V
INTRODUCTION 1
I BRECHT: THE LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND GERMAN
THEATER IN THE 1920s-1930s AND FRENCH THEATER
IN THE 1960s 7
II BRECHT IN FRANCE 23
Brecht versus Theater of the Absura 28
Shakespeare and Brecht as Models 36
Brecht and the Actor 42
III POLITICAL THOUGHT 46
Cultural Revolution 46
The New Left 53
Class Struggle, Structure, Ideology 60
IV POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ACTION IN FRANCE
UNDER DE GAULLE 77
De Gaulle 77
Political Parties and Groups in France
1958-1968 80
Malraux and Gaullist Cultural Policies... 88
Cultural Action 90
V POPULAR THEATER 96
Theater Decentralization 96
Peripheral Theaters 101
Theater Activities During May 1968 109
VI ARMAND GATTI: FRENCH PLAYWRIGHT OF THE
1960s 113
v

VII 1962-1966: LA VIE IMAGINAIRE DE L1EBOUEUR
AUGUSTE G. AND CHANT PUBLIC DEVANT DEUX
CHAISES ELECTRIQUES 122
VIII 1966-1968: V COMME VIETNAM AND LES TREIZE
SOLEILS DE LA RUE SAINT-BLAISE. ... 156
IX POPULAR THEATER AFTER MAY 1968 189
BIBLIOGRAPHY 210
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 214
vi

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
ARMAND GATTI AND POLITICAL TRENDS IN FRENCH
THEATER UNDER DE GAULLE (1958-1978)
By
Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski
December 1982
Chairman: Dr. Raymond Gay-Crosier
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures
The playwright Armand Gatti was an innovator in the
French theater during the period 1958-1968. In this study
four of his plays produced in the 1960s are discussed:
La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G., Chant public
devant deux chaises lectriques, V comme Vietnam, and Les
Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise. These four major
plays illustrate a theater which sought to be more respon
sive to events and problems in French society. They are
studied within the framework of developments in popular
theater, the influence of Brecht, the emergence of a new
left and other political groups, and Gaullist cultural
policies.
It is shown that the ideas of the Marxist philosophers
Henri Lefebvre (the possibilities of the individual, urban
vu

revolution, a critique of bourgeois society) and those of
Louis Althusser (class struggle, cultural revolution, and
nondialectic history) appear transposed as themes in Gatti1s
plays. Examples of Gatti's techniques of "distancing" by
interruptions in the structural organization of the text are
interpreted to provide, as in the case of Brecht, a means of
encouraging the spectator to participate in the play by crit
ically judging what is presented. Through the discussion of
Brecht and the new left a connection is made between the
political and literary trends in Germany and Russia in the
1920s-1930s and the political trends in French theater of
the 1960s. The impact of political ideas on the themes of
Gatti's plays is used to elucidate the controversy which
arose concerning the interaction of culture and politics,
and the role of intellectuals and ideologies.
The conclusion describes what occurred in the French
popular theater in the 1970s. With his increased emphasis
on actor and spectator participation, Gatti is shown to be
one of the most radical practitioners of the current return
to a more spontaneous, political theatricality.

INTRODUCTION
From de Gaulle's establishment of the Fifth Republic
in September 1958 to the demonstrations of May 1968,
political and literary thought in France stimulated experi
ments in the theater. The subject matter chosen for plays,
the form in which they were written, and the techniques and-
devices used in staging them were affected. The theater
became a political issue during this period because of the
unusual interaction between politics, literature, and
theater. Attention was turned toward the voter, the reader,
and the spectator.
The decade began with the organization of a "popular"
theater in Villeurbanne, the working-class suburb of Lyon,
by the theater director Roger Planchn. By the mid-1960s,
however, the critic Bernard Dort questioned whether popular
theater was possible in a French society where workers, in
fact, did not attend the theater. Culture became not only
the preoccupation of persons interested in the theater but
also that of politicians. Such notions as culture, cultural
action and, in some cases, cultural revolution were used by
political parties and radical groups to support ideological
points of view.
Armand Gatti was an innovator in the theater during
this period. His participation in the popular theater
1

2
movement included writing plays, reading them to union
groups, directing productions of his plays, forming a close-
knit theater troupe, interacting with the theater public,
and making statements about the purpose of the theater. His
plays, by their subject matter and form, reflect political
and social themes of the period and thus represent a theater
which sought to be more responsive to events and problems in
the society.
As a young man Gatti lived through the occupation, the
resistance, and the liberation of France during the Second
World War. In the 1950s as a journalist, and in the 1960s
and 1970s as a playwright, he was acutely aware of social
injustice in France and in the Third World. Interested in
history and its relation to present-day events in the world,
Gatti wrote books about Russia, China, and Churchill, and
articles about dictators in Central America. In 1962 he
directed the film El Otro Cristopher (The Other Christopher)
in Cuba before starting to direct the staging of his own
plays in France. His global view whether expressed in books,
articles, films or plays always deals with social problems.
Two important characteristics of Gatti's style in his
works are naivety and optimism. In an interview with
Denis Bablet in 1971 Gatti explained that the theater is a
means for him to try to recapture the wonderful possibility
of invention he felt as a child and the feelings he experi
enced when he joined the Maquis. Concerning the latter he
recalled:

3
C'tait un trou, dans une fort, par un froid
peler. Je suis entr dans ce trou sous la terre.
Et dans ce trou, au debut, il n'y avait rien, pas
d'armes, on se cherchait. J'ai commenc rever
le monde, rver 1'Europe, rver tout ce qu'on
devait faire, les rapports changer, mais la
mesure d'un gosse de seize ans, qui se sent homme
et qui ne l'est pas encore. Je crois que faire..du
thtre c'est pour moi retourner dans ce trou.
In many of Gatti1s plays this apparent child's view conveys
the optimism that the possibility to create a just society
does exist. Momentary defeats such as the Commune of Paris
(1871) are to be viewed as a necessary part of future vic
tories. His characters are uncomplicated and simple. They
often lack the ability to analyze their situation, and their
emotional and behavioral characteristics are directly
related to their social milieu. It is the spectator who
critically analyzes the themes presented in the plays.
Workers and guerrilla fighters who seek to make society
more humane are represented as good, while owners of big
businesses, government officials, and those who serve them
or their own self-interest, are regarded as evil and
satirized.
Jean Vilar, desiring to promote young playwrights,
first drew attention to Gatti by staging his play Le Crapaud-
Buffle (Oct. 1959) to inaugurate the Recamier, the small
experimental theater associated with the Theatre National
Denis Bablet, "Entretien avec Armand Gatti,
Travail Thtral, 3 (1971) p. 19.
II

4
Populaire (TNP). The play received unfavorable reviews. It
was not until Roger Planchn's troupe of the Theatre de la
Cit at Villeurbanne staged Gatti's La Vie iinaginaire de
l'eboueur Auguste G. (1962) that Gatti was regarded as a
successful playwright. Throughout the 1960s Armand Gatti
and Roger Planchn were considered to be the two theater
people the most likely to succeed in creating a French pop
ular theater. Although Gatti was greatly influenced by
working with Planchn's troupe in 1962, and even used many
of Planchn's actors for the TNP production of his Chant
public devant deux chaises lectriques (1966), Planchon's
troupe never staged another play of Gatti's after the pre
sentation of Auguste G. Instead, the Grenier Thtre at
Toulouse, under the direction of Maurice Sarrazin, was
particularly willing to stage Gatti's plays. The TNP, under
the direction of Georges Wilson, staged Gatti's Chant public
and rehearsed his La Passion du gnral Franco which was
banned in December 1968 just before it was scheduled to
open.
Gatti's difficulties regarding the French government's
cultural policy arose because of the disagreement between
critics, government officials, and theater directors concern
ing the concept of popular theater, and because of the polit
ical themes in his plays. After the events of May 1968
Gatti continued to work with the troupe of actors known as
Gatti's "Tribu," dedicated to furthering their conception
of popular theater which included the active participation

5
of spectators. Gatti's themes and basic idea of popular
theater did not change in the 1970s. Yet critics who mis
understood his notion of popular theater equally misunder
stood Gatti himself. Thus after being regarded as the most
promising playwright in connection with the popular theater
movement in the 1960s Gatti was subsequently ignored as
a French playwright when the political climate in France
changed after 196 8. For a French critic such as Alfred Simon,
popular theater meant theater for the majority. For Gatti
and other theater activists and critics influenced by Brecht,
popular theater meant a political theater that expressed
solidarity with the underprivileged in French society and
the Third World. It was theater for the masses, not for
the "majority."
In his 1971 interview with Bablet, Gatti stated he did
not want to continue writing for the traditional theater.
In reference to his play Rosa which was then being staged
in Kassel, Germany, he explained:
Rosa est en train d'tre monte Kassel. Elle
ne peut pas toucher les gens h. qui je voudrais
m'adresser parce qu'ils n1appartiennent tout
simplement pas ceux qui pourront la voir.
Elle devient un objet culturel, et avec elle
j'occupe une position privilgie par rapport
aux travailleurs. Quoi que je fasse, je suis
du c6t des privilges. ... Je suis au service
d'une culture pense par une classe qui en exploite
une autre.2
2
Bablet, p. 11.

6
At the time of the interview Gatti had written about twenty-
seven plays of which nineteen had been published.
The facts about Gatti's activities during the 1960s are
well known, yet no study has been made of his themes and
techniques in relation to the political and intellectual
context of the period. This I propose to do, limiting my
attention to La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G.,
Chant public devant deux chaises lectriques, Vcomme
Vietnam, and Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise.
These four major plays were seen by large audiences and
best illustrate his themes and techniques. They provide
excellent examples of the close relationship between popular
theater and the political and intellectual trends in France.
Before considering these plays in detail, however, I shall
first review the political and cultural background of the
de Gaulle years and discuss the development of popular
theater in France, especially with reference to the influ
ence of Brecht.

CHAPTER I
BRECHT: THE LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND GERMAN THEATER
IN THE 1920s-1930s AND FRENCH THEATER IN THE 1960s
Armand Gatti's theater activities in the 1960s can be
viewed in relation to ideas in the theater in the 1920s and
1930s in Russia and Germany. Such concerns as social con
sciousness, popular theater, interest in the participation
of the spectator, and a critical view of society recur in a
different context in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the transla
tions in the 1960s of works by Brecht, Piscator, and
Meyerhold point toward such a comparison. It is therefore
helpful to think of Brecht as a link to theater in the 1920s
and 1930s in Russia and Germany for French popular theater
of the 1960s.
The 1920s and 1930s were years of crisis and social
change in Germany and Russia. Brecht was aware of trends in
the theater and in the formalist literary circles in Russia.
Although a thorough study has not been made of the Russian
influence in Brecht's works, it is known that Brecht, through
his friend Sergei Tretiakov, knew about the activities of
Shklovsky, Meyerhold, and Mayakovsky. Tretiakov, a theore
tician of socialist art, attempted to create theater capable
of "operating" in society by creating a socialist public.
His "production" play Teh will ein Kind haben (I Want to
7

8
have a Child) is viewed as a social experiment on the stage
where love and sex are examined.'*' The protagonist Milda
embodies the problem of a new organization of sex and
instinct. Concerned about the "production" of intelligent
children, Milda wants to have a child without being emotion
ally involved with the father. Her behavior is contrasted
with the jealous behavior of the more human Lipa, whose
husband Milda uses for her personal goal. Milda's behavior
in the play is presented as a social problem that the spec
tators are called upon to consider. After nurseries are
built, a project of Milda, the Mildas will disappear. And,
the Lipas will evolve into a new form of woman of which the
spectator is not yet aware, but which will be the result of
his participation in social changes in the society.
Brecht adopted Tretiakov's play about Milda for the
German stage and Meyerhold, although he was unable to stage
the play because it was banned, rehearsed it from 1927 to
1930. Tretiakov, a poet, playwright and journalist, worked
with Meyerhold as a dramatist and with Shklovsky as an
editor of the review Lef. Brecht discussed the literary
term priem ostraneniga(making strange) with Tretiakov in
connection with the acting technique of the Chinese actor
Mei-Lang-Fang, who gave a demonstration of his technique in
Fritz Mierau, Erfindung und Korrektur; Tretjakow,
Aesthetik der Operativitat (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1976),
p. 17.

9
2
Moscow during Brecht's visit there. Later Brecht developed
his own acting method of Verfremdungseffekte (alienation
effects). The purpose of Brecht's V-effects is to permit
the spectator to develop a critical distance toward what
is presented. Therefore the word distanciation rather than
alienation describes better his application in the theater
of the literary theory related to the term priem ostraneni tpa.
For both Tretiakov and Brecht this practical applica
tion of distanciation in the theater involved a socio
political purpose. Walter Benjamin discussed this aspect
of Tretiakov's and Brecht's works in his lecture given in
Paris in 1934 entitled "Der Autor alsProduzent" ("The
Author as Producer"). He stated that the political intent
of a literary work can only be justified if it is fully
integrated into the literary quality of the work and, in
3
fact, constitutes this literary quality. Furthermore, a
functional dependency exists between the right political
intent and the advanced literary techniques of a period.
According to Benjamin, the technical forms of litera
ture have to be transformed in order for political criti-
4
cism to be effective. For example, in Brecht's didactic
Marjorie L. Hoover, Meyerhold: The Art of Conscious
Theater (Amherst: Univ. of Mass. Press, 1974), p. 264.
Walter Benjamin, "Der Autor ais Produzent," in
Versuche iiber Brecht, ed. Rolf Tiedemann (Frankfurt/Main:
Suhrkamp, 1967), p. 96.
4
Benjamin, pp. 108-12.

10
play Die Massnahme (The Measures Taken), Brecht and Eisler
transformed the concert form by changing the use of estab
lished musical and literary techniques. In addition, the
form of Brecht's epic theater causes the spectator to take
part in producing the play. Brecht consciously controls
the theater techniques he uses; he uses songs and montage
to "distance" the spectator from the play. These means of
interruption in the structure of the play permit the spec
tator to discover relationships. Benjamin believes that
Brecht changed the relationship between the stage and the
audience, the text and the presentation, and the director
and the actor by creating an epic theater which presents
situations instead of developing plots.
Benjamin also raises the problem of the role of the
5
intellectual m changing society. In 1934 he sees the dif
ference between the author and the public begin to disap
pear in the Soviet press; the reader is ready to become the
writer in what Benjamin calls the "literization" of living
relations. He believes the establishment of the author as a
producer would have to begin by the use of the press. How
ever, since the bourgeois educational system gives writers a
means of production which makes them a part of that class,
it is difficult for intellectuals to become proletarian.
Therefore, if the press remains in the hands of the
5
Benjamin, pp. 100; 115.

11
bourgeoisie, revolutionary statements could be assimilated
without actually threatening the class in power.
Tretiakov also believes in the 1930s that the workers
and farmers who write articles or letters published in
newspapers act to "push" the worker into literature and
thus create a new relationship between the writer and the
g
reader. The profession of the writer is changed from a
contemplative role to one of carrying out an operation. All
work, including writing, is viewed as a political and eco
nomic act which is part of the class struggle. The class
enemy is not simply embodied as evil, but rather as that
part in every man which appears as outdated ideas or habit
ual behavior in need of being changed.
In his own literary work Tretiakov examines facts in
terms of their general social interest and changes them into
an argument leading to practical conclusions. His theater,
which includes montage of attractions, documentaries, melo
dramas, agitation guignol, dramatization of newspaper arti
cles, and production plays, is an attempt to illustrate the
application of literary contributions to the practice of
social change in the actual society. Even though Tretiakov
did not believe in developing a personal style or in
professional writing, Benjamin cited him, along with Brecht,
6
Mierau, pp. 23-24.

12
as a writer whose works contain both political purpose
7
and literary quality.
In the 1920s the Lef group and the sociological for
malists moved from Shklovsky's formalist theory of the lit
erary device to consider its application in the proletarian
g
revolution. Such formalists attempted to inscribe their
practice within the concept of cultural revolution. For
them the transformation of existing relations of production
and productive forces for the transition to communism also
implied the transformation of existing ideological relations.
The final aim of "production" art was the dissolution of
art into life by breaking down the distinction between
artistic work and productive labor and by giving the ordi
nary worker the distant and controlled relation to his work
that was characteristic of the laid bare device.
Alienation-effects are for Brecht, as they were for
the formalists, autonomous technical devices of art, not
9
avatars of the alienation of man under capitalism.
Brecht's most important theoretical work on the theater is
his Short Organum for the Theater, written in 1948 with
appendices added later. Parts of this work were first
Benjamin, p. 98.
g
Ben Brewster, "From Shklovsky to Brecht: A Reply,"
Screen, 15, 2 (Summer 1974), 88-89, 91.
9
Brewster, p. 94.

13
published in France in the review Theatre Populaire in
1955. Brecht transforms devices of art in order to present
a critical view of society. In the prologue to the Short
Organum he states:
The battle was for a theatre fit for the scientific
age, and where its planners found it too hard to
borrow or steal from the armoury of aesthetic con
cepts enough weapons to defend themselves against
the aesthetics of the Press they simply threatened
to transform the means of enjoyment into an instru
ment of instruction. 0
A new type of theater was needed because new forms of
organization and a new vision of life had evolved. In this
scientific age man could adopt familiar objects about him
to serve him.^ But, the new approach to nature was not
applied to society. It was not in the interest of the
evolving bourgeois class to apply this new way of thinking
and feeling to the relations which people have to one
another during the exploiting and dominating process.
Indeed, the role of the bourgeois class would then come to
an end. Brecht therefore concludes that the productive
attitude to be taken up toward nature and society enter
tainingly in the theater is a critical one, and states:
Bertolt Brecht, "Short Organum for the Theater,"
in Brecht on Theater: The Development of an Aesthetic, ed.
and trans. John Willet (New York: Hill and Wang, 1964),
p. 179.
11
Brecht, pp. 184-85.

14
It [theater] constructs its workable representations
of society, which are then in a position to influence
society, wholly and entirely as a game: for those who
are constructing society it sets out society's expe
riences, past and present alike, in such a manner
that the audience can "appreciate" the feelings,
insights and impulses which are distilled by the
wisest, most passionate among us from the events of
the day or the century. They must be entertained
with the wisdom that comes from the solution of
problems, with the anger that is a practical
expression of sympathy with the underdog, with the
respect due to those who respect humanity, or rather
whatever is kind to humanity, in short, with what
ever delights those who are producing something. 2
Brecht's theoretical ideas about the theater imply
changes in acting and staging. The kind of acting which was
tried out at the Schiffbauerdamm Theater in Berlin between
the First and Second World Wars was based on the effect of
distancing. For Brecht a representation that alienates is
one which allows the spectator to recognize its subject
while making it appear unfamiliar. The V-effects are
intended to free socially-conditioned phenomena from a famil
iarity which protects them from being understood. In the
Short Organum he states:
This technique [distanciation] allows the theater to
make use of its representations of the new social
scientific method known as dialectical materialism.
In order to unearth society's laws of motion this
method treats social situations as processes, and
traces out all their inconsistencies. It regards
nothing as existing except in as far as it changes,
in other words is in disharmony with itself. This
12
Brecht, p. 186.

15
also goes for those human feelings, opinions and
attitudes through which at any time the form of men's
life together finds its expression. ^
In order to produce V-effects the actor has to work
against whatever means he has learned to get the audience
to identify with the characters he plays. This does not
mean, however, that the actor will or should succeed in
inhibiting this identification completely. Brecht clarifies
this point in the following appendix. to the original
Short Organ vim.
a) However dogmatic it may seem to insist that self-
identification with the character should be
avoided in the performance, our generation can
listen to this warning with advantage. However
determinedly they obey it they can hardly carry
it out to the letter, so the most likely result
is that truly rendering contradiction between
experience and portrayal, empathy and demonstra
tion, justification and criticism, which is
aimed at.
b) The contradiction between acting (demonstration)
and experience (empathy) often leads the unin
structed to suppose that only one or the other
can be manifest in the work of the actor (as if
the Short Organum concentrated entirely on acting
and the old tradition entirely on experience). In
reality it is a matter of two mutually hostile
processes which fuse in the actor's work; his per
formance is not just composed of a bit of one and
a bit of the other. His particular effectiveness
comes from the tussle and the tension of the two
opposites, and also from their depth. The style
in which the S.O. is written is partly to blame
for this.
13
Brecht,
P*
193.
14
Brecht,
p. 277.

16
It is true that the style of the Short Organum, which
is more expository than theoretical, has caused some con
fusion about Brecht's theories. Brecht did discard the
label of epic theater, although he never renounced the con
cept of progress toward conscious experience which he felt
15
epic theater makes possible. For Brecht the techniques of
distanciation (V-effects) are the key to the theater's com
bative character. The application of such techniques
assumes that society considers its condition to be historic
and capable of improvement.
Most French dramatists and theater directors in the
1960s seemed to overlook the importance of distanciation
as an integral part of Brecht's theater. Jean-Paul Sartre
during his lecture entitled "Thtre pique et thtre
dramatique" given in 1959 at the Sorbonne for the ATEP (an
association of Parisian theater students headed by Ariane
Mnouchkine at the time) summarized Brecht's theater as
follows:
Vous savez ce qu'est le thtre pique de Brecht,
vous connaissez sa recherche principale qui est de
montrer, d'expliquer et de faire juger plutt que de
faire participer. II veut montrer la fois l'acte
individuel, et ce qu'il appelle la gestus sociale qui
conditionne cet acte, il veut montrer les contradic
tions qu'il y a dans toute conduite et en mme temps
15
Brecht, p. 273.

17
le systme social qui engendre ces contradictions,
tout ceci l'intrieur d'une reprsentation.^
Finding both the dramatic genre and the epic genre to be
insufficient, Sartre goes on to suggest creating a theater
which includes a subjective view along with a critical view
of society. He thinks Brecht's V-effects work against
creating such a theater because in his opinion:
Quand on ne partage pas les fins d'un group social
qu'on dfinit, on peut, en effet, crer une sorte de
distanciation et, par consquent, montrer les gens du
dehors et mme quelquefois rendre par un chant ce
qu'ils pensent: mais quand on est dans une socit
dont on partage les principes, ga devient beaucoup
plus difficile. Nous avons affaire ce
moment-l un autre thtre, thtre qui essaie de
comprendre, et c'est prcisment, mon avis, la
diffrence entre l'pique et le dramatique; dans le
dramatique, on peut essayer de comprendre, mais
dans l'pique, tel qu'on nous le prsente actulle-
ment, on explique ce qu'on ne comprend pas. '
Sartre's criticism of Brecht's techniques of distancia
tion can best be understood in relation to the debate among
some Marxists regarding how to include a subjective view in
the Marxist objective view of society. Sartre thought exis
tentialism, which he considered to be a humanism, could
introduce this dimension. Marxists, however, did not follow
Jean-Paul Sartre, "Thtre pique et thtre drama
tique," in Un Thtre de situation, eds. Michel Contat and
Michel Rybalka (Paris: Gallimard, 1973), pp. 104-05.
17
Sartre, p. 149.

18
Sartre's line of reasoning. Sartre's own plays, which
illustrate his existentialist philosophy, emphasize the
subjective view of characters and use traditional theater
techniques.
Sartre does, however, express opinions about the
intellectual's position in society which are similar to
those of Walter Benjamin, an advocate of Brecht. Sartre
perceives a contradiction within the ideological and
political framework in which an intellectual uses his know-
18
ledge. The intellectual receives a general education in
a particular society which has an interest in perpetuating
an ideology of classes. This bourgeois ideology instills in
an intellectual from childhood on a racist attitude and a
humanism it presents as being universal. But the profession
of the intellectual as a writer entails exposing the truth,
the facts, and the contradictions in society. Therefore a
conflict exists between the bourgeois ideology and the role
of the intellectual. To free himself from this contradic
tion the intellectual must take a radical position on issues.
If the intellectual lives this contradiction without
questioning it, Sartre believes he is actually defending the
ideology and is not an intellectual. However the writer
who sees the contradiction and takes steps to combat it is
an intellectual.
18
Jean-Paul Sartre, "Intellektuelle und Revolution,"
Neues Forum, 211-212 (June-July 1971), p. 34.

19
During the late 1960s and the 1970s other French
critics debated the role of the intellectual. Although the
exact relationship between the influence of intellectuals
and that of ideologies could not be defined, critics recog
nized the important roles of both in elaborating images
which guide different social classes. According to Claude
Prvost, "les hommes se servent de l'idologie mais, tout
autant et mme davantage, sont galement produits et mis en
movement par l'idologie, par ce qui fonctionne comme un
vritable inconscient culturel." Prvost also speaks of
the importance of techniques in relation to a critique of
ideologies. He states that Brecht, conscious of the tech
niques he used, created new meaning by using traditional
literary forms:
La pratique mme de Brecht rvle son effort
constant pour emprunter partout des techniques et
mme "formes fixes"; en apparence figes par la
tradition (la ballade, le sonnet et jusqu'au verset
biblique) et qui transporte Dieu sait quelles
idologies. ... Si les techniques, moyens et
procds ne sont pas neutres, Brecht pense qu'ils
peuvent tre neutraliss pour, remploys dans un
autre contexte, tre investis de significations
nouvelles.20
Moreover, Edward Said directs attention to the rela
tion between ideologies and the profession of a literary
19
Claude Prvost, "Littrature et idologie,"
Nouvelle Critique, 57 (Oct. 1972), p. 17.
20
Prvost, p. 22.

20
. 21
critic. Within a text, as well as a text of literary
criticism, he perceives evidence of a continual process of
struggle between the dominant and the dominated going on.
Criticism adopts the mode of commentary on and evaluation
of art, yet matters more as a necessarily incomplete process
toward judgement and evaluation. The critical essay begins
to create the values by which art is judged. Said believes
criticism has above all the responsibility to oppose a mono
centrism which denies plurality and recognizes one idea as
the only idea possible, rather than acknowledge that an
idea in history is always one among many.
Said's view of criticism as being worldly, i.e. the
critic's role being to judge his historical situation, con
tinues the trend of developing a critical attitude toward
literature, culture, ideology and society as expressed by
Brecht, Benjamin, Sartre, and Prvost. This trend to see
the text in relation to history and actual events is,
according to Fredric Jameson, a natural evolution of
22
formalist ideas. He states that Russian Formalism began
during the First World War and disappeared in 1929. After
Edward W. Said, "The Text, the World, the Critic,"
in Textual Strategies; Perspectives in Post-Structuralist
Criticism, ed. Jose Harari (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell
Univ. Press, 1979), pp. 187-88.
22
Fredric Jameson, The Prison House of Language: A
Critical Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism
(Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1972),
preface pp. ix-x.

21
that date many formalists developed into literary historians,
.mainly in the historical novel and in the movies. Their
image of literary history as mutation proved to be unsatis
factory as philosophy and yet stimulating for the imagin
ation. Jameson dates the structuralist movement from the
publication of Claude Lvi-Strauss' Tristes tropiques (1955)
to its high point in 1966-1967 when Jacques Lacan published
his Ecrits and Jacques Derrida published his first major
texts. Structuralists like Lvi-Strauss reawakened thought
on the origins of culture and changed our perception of
history. Jameson summarizes the influence of formalist and
structuralist thought on history as follows:
To say, in short, that synchronic systems cannot
deal in any adequate conceptual way with temporal
phenomena is not to say that we do not emerge from
them with a heightened sense of the mystery of
diachrony itself. We have tended to take temporality
for granted; where everything is historical, the
idea ofhistory itself has seemed to empty of
content. Perhaps that is, indeed, the ultimate
propedeutic value of the linguistic mode; to renew
our fascination with the seeds of time. 3
In the theater both in the 1920s-30s and in the 1960s
a critical view of the relationship between dramatic art
and the real, historical world became a major concern for
some dramatists. During both historical periods, in
Russia and Germany (1920s-30s) and then in France (1960s),
the changes in the existing society paralleled socio
political activities in the theater. Although Brecht wrote
23
Jameson, preface p. x.

22
his greatest plays while in exile during the Second World
War, his ideas about the theater, particularly his V-effects,
were influenced by formalist thought and activities in the
Russian theater of the 1920s-30s. Beginning in the
mid-1950s with the Berliner Ensemble's performances in
Paris and the publication of Brecht's Short Organum,
Brecht's ideas about theater inspired many experiments in
the French theater. During the same period, structuralist
thought in France reawakened a critical view of culture,
ideology, and history.
To fully understand the trend toward socio-political
drama influenced by Brecht in the 1960s in France, it is
necessary to review the debate in the theater between
advocates of the theater of the absurd and those of Brech-
tian theater, the renewed interest in Shakespearean plays
viewed as being popular and political, the intellectual
trends which contributed to the development of political
thought in the French theater, the political policies of
de Gaulle in relation to the decentralization of theaters
in France, and the popular theater movement.

CHAPTER II
BRECHT IN FRANCE
In the 1960s French playwrights and critics with
knowledge of Brecht's epic theater brought into being a new
movement in the French theater which made possible an enthu
siastic reception of Gatti's plays. Gatti's experimentation
in the theater concerning the structure of his plays, and
the techniques and devices used to stage them,would not
have been possible without the decentralization of the
theater in France, the notion of popular theater connected
with it, and an interest in the plays and theoretical works
of Bertolt Brecht.
Brecht became the cited example of a number of theater
directors and critics. Jean Vilar, who had produced Mre
Courage at the TNP as early as 1951, was impressed by
Brecht's remarks for the staging of his plays, although he
disregarded Brecht's theories on dramatic art. Roger
Planchn, who met with Brecht in the summer of 1955, took
Brecht's style of direction and theater interpretation as
a model. The interest in Brecht and popular theater promp
ted the founding of the review Thtre Populaire by the pub
lisher Arche. Contributors to this review were the most
enthusiastic defenders of Brecht's epic theater. Jean
Duvignaud, Jean Paris, Bernard Dort, Roland Barthes,
23

24
Arthur Adamov, and Andr Gisselbrecht presented their views
about Brecht's plays and theoretical works in articles in
this review. For them popular theater meant a critical
theater which should activate the spectator, that is
political theater.
In the early 1950s in France, with the exception of
the plays of Camus and Sartre, no political theater existed.^
Yet the political situation in France demanded such drama
in a form more directly appealing than the plays of Camus
and Sartre where the characters illustrate existential
2
philosophical beliefs. Both playwrights present uncommon
experiences that occur in the uncommon lives of heroes:
Sartre's include a Greek prince, a South American deserter,
a Communist party leader, a general of peasant wars, a
prince of German industry; those of Camus are a Roman
Emperor, a Tchekoslovakian emigrant, a Russian poet-assassin,
and a Spanish hero. Both writers attempted to forge myths
of rebels who seek clarity despite the absurdity of being-
in-the-world. Whereas Sartre called upon heroes to take
action to make history, Camus believed one could not act
without first having certain values mainly a solidarity
with other men.
Agns Hfner, Brecht in Frankreich 1930-1963: Ver-
breitung, Aufnahme, Wirkung (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlerischer,
1968), p. 47.
o
Ruby Cohn
(Blooming-

25
The actual political events in France and Brecht's
theater contributed toward establishing political drama in
France. Brecht viewed the theater as having an ideological
purpose; its function was to transform society by showing
the spectator that he could intervene in the historical
process. Brecht experts writing articles for the review
Thtre Populaire judged the French staging of a Brecht
play negatively if it varied from the Berliner Ensemble
model, or if it presented the political content in a banal
commonplace way. The bourgeois critic Jean-Jacques Gautier,
on the other hand, praised the type of staging which showed
3
a tendency toward generalizing the political theme.
Whereas Vilar believed the function of the theater was to
integrate the individual into the community, Gatti, more in
line with the critics of Thtre Populaire, felt that the
theater's purpose was to form critical spectators. As a
playwright he, like Brecht, sought to "divide" the audience
and did not believe a theater performance could create a
unity which did not actually exist in the society.
Through the efforts of the review Thtre Populaire
(published from 1953 to 1964) Brecht's plays and theoretical
works were discussed. The concept of epic theater as a
system and method, and the idea that a social conflict is
inseparable from its historical context, were established.
3
Hfner, p. 115.

26
The critic Bernard Dort was mainly concerned with the
social and historical approach as the style principle for
4
the structure of Brecht's drama. In his Lecture de Brecht
(1960) he explored the structure of Brecht's work and sys
tem and emphasized his conception of the world and man as
realities which are changeable. He saw this as the newness
of Brecht's drama in contrast to classical theater in which
the world and man are shown as unchangeable. Dort's
interest in the epic realism of Brecht's work was also a
sign of an increasing interest in realism in French theater
in the 1960s. Roland Barthes regarded Brecht's theater as
Marxist theater constructed on the basis of dialectic and
5
historical materialism. Andr Gisselbrecht believed it
illustrated that the class struggle prevented goodness by
showing the connection and dependence of morals on the
capitalistic economic system. He also thought Brecht
pointed toward the reasoning that the only way out for the
spectator is a revolutionary struggle founded on the know
ledge of the laws of the society.
In 1957 Roger Planchn was the first director to stage
Arthur Adamov's Paolo Paoli, a social critical drama dealing
with the First World War and the economic relationship
Hiifner, p. 57 cites Dort Thtre Populaire 11, 1955,
p. 29.
5
Hiifner, pp. 134; 136-38.

27
between the individual and the society. In the same year he
was the first director to stage Michael Vinaver's play
Les Corens; some critics considered this play to be the
first attempt to create a French epic theater. Planchn was
the only French director who was using the style of the
Berliner Ensemble and the theories of Brecht as models for
staging plays.^ One of the first performances characterized
by the Brecht supporters as being Brechtian was Planchn's
Henry IV (1957); George Dandin and La Seconde Surprise de
11 amour followed (1958-1959). For Planchn, realistic drama
such as Shakespeare's, Calderon's or Molire's required a
Brechtian staging, that is one which rendered the social
aspects of the drama prominent.
In 1960 Planchn felt that one could not stage a play
by Brecht without engaging oneself both politically and
esthetically. In order to produce Brecht's plays, a certain
degree of political engagement is necessary. It is for this
reason that Brecht's plays were staged only at the TNP or in
regional theaters. Whether the concept of popular theater
was understood as political theater, as it was by Roger
Planchn, Andr Gisselbrecht, Roland Barthes and Bernard
Dort, or as "thtre pour le peuple" which was not bourgeois
theater, by Jean Dast, Jean Vilar and Alfred Simon, what
was decisive for the success of Brecht in France was the
6
Hfner, pp. 125; 192.

28
political view Brecht afforded and the readiness of some
French critics, directors, and actors to follow his example.
After 1961, however, Planchn did not include any
more Brecht plays in his repertory. By the beginning of
the 1960s the situation had changed concerning some French
critics' attitudes toward Brecht. For the right, the polit
ical engagement of Brecht no longer seemed so dangerous
since his death in 1955. Some critics on the left, such
as Jean-Paul Sartre, Alfred Simon, and Michael Vinaver,
7
reacted against copying Brecht. Without denying Brecht's
significance in their development, many playwrights wanted
to establish their own criteria. Armand Gat'ti and Gabriel
Cousin brought out their first plays at this time. Realism
and politics are the main concepts which such new playwrights
had in common with Brecht's theater.
Brecht versus Theater of the Absurd
Another aspect of Brecht's influence on the French
theater which needs to be dealt with is the controversy
between Brechtian theater and the theater of the absurd.
There were a number of free-lance directors, working in
Paris or for theater festivals in the provinces, who were
staging plays by well-known, so-called absurd playwrights.
Nicolas Bataille launched the theater of the absurd with his
7
Hvifner, p. 153.

29
production of Ionesco's La Cantatrice chauve (1950). Subse
quently Jacques Mauclair, with Victimes du devoir (1953)
and Les Chaises (1956), helped to establish Ionesco in the
theater. Jean-Marie Serreau staged Amde ou comment s'en
debarrasser (1954) and La So'if' et la faim (1966) of Ionesco.
Roger Blin began his career with Artaud, then formed an
association with Samuel Beckett. He produced Beckett's
En attendant Godot (1953), Fin de partie (1957), La Derniere
Bande (1960) for the TNP (Rcamier), and Oh Les beau jours
(1963) for Madeleine Renaud at the Thtre de France. He
also produced Jean Genet's Les Ngres in 1959. Absurd
plays continued to be frequently staged during the 1960s
particularly in private theaters and at the Thtre de
France directed by Jean-Louis Barrault.
During the 1960s innovative European theater was domina
ted by two contending influences: the Brechtian (or epic)
and the absurd. Ionesco, who called the Brechtians propa
gandists distorting the truth in the interest of their polit
ical cause, was pitted against Kenneth Tynan, Sartre,
Adamov, and the collaborators of the review Thter Popu-
laire. Left-wing playwrights and critics who were enthu
siasts of Brecht attacked the works of Beckett and Ionesco,
stating they neglected social issues.
Martin Esslin believes this was a false controversy
because, for him, drama is concerned with recreating human
states of emotion that permit audiences to experience

30
g
emotions that would otherwise be denied to them. He sees
similarly powerful poetic metaphors of human emotion in
Brecht's plays and in Beckett's plays. Mother Courage
pulling her cart is a poetic image of human resilience and
tenderness just as the barren tree with the waiting figures
in Waiting for Godot is a poetic image of the emptiness of
human existence. According to Esslin the politically and
socially oriented playwrights simply concentrate their inten
tions on external reality (political conditions, social
problems) while the introspective poetic playwrights such
as Beckett and Ionesco tend to favor an inner truth. The
plays of Beckett and Ionesco are dreams which Esslin
believes are as real to them and to the audience as external
realities are to the Brechtians. Esslin thinks the two
types of theater are really heading toward some sort of
fusion.
It is true that both Brechtian and absurd theater have
brought a number of dramatic techniques into contemporary
recognition and use. Andrew Fitch cites as authors working
with elements which can be identified as epic or absurd
Jean Genet (Les Paravents) Peter Weiss (Marat'/Sade) and
9
Armand Gatti (particularly Auguste G.). Although there
Martin Esslin, An Anatomy of Drama (New York: Hill
and Wang), 1977), pp. 116-18.
q
Andrew Fitch, "A Fusion Avant-Gard?" Drama Survey,
5,1 (Spring 1966), 55; 57-58.

31
is a mixture of elements from both styles in the plays
cited, these elements are presented in conflict, as opposite
sides of a debate or confrontation. For example in
Les Paravents, political satire exists mainly as a backdrop
and counterpoint to the themes of death, illusion, and the
outcast's story. In Marat/Sade the only element of the
absurd is the lunatic world against which takes place the
debate between the individual and the collective. In Gatti's
play, the death of the protagonist and the social conflict
which causes it are not in apparent conflict. For this
reason Fitch believes the play, like others by Gatti, may be
the closest approximation of the absurd and the epic. Yet,
when Gatti does use absurd techniques (music hall clowning,
exaggeration, dream language) to explore the meaningfulness
of human experience, he wants them to serve as episodic
counterpoint to point up the essential political and histor
ical nature of the play. Fitch concludes, therefore, that
the combination of absurd and epic elements in the three
plays discussed occurs in the form of tension, that is a
counterpoint construction which actually points up an
incongruity between the elements. According to him, no
playwright can adhere to both absurd and epic theater,
since they pose a fundamental choice on the philosophical
and existential levels and illustrate irreconcilable
differences.

32
Norman Holland also states there is a basic difference
between absurd and epic theater.1 He makes a distinction
between the effect on the audience of both types of plays.
To do so he differentiates the style of the 1930s from the
one after the Second World War. He refers to the 1930s style
as "modernique" and the postwar style as "postmodernique."
As defined by Holland, the 1930s style is characterized by
traditional beliefs which were held with passion and convic
tion, such as those aroused by the Spanish Civil War. The
postwar style includes mass murders, sick comedians,
abstract expression, politics concerning non-Western
peoples, the UN and NATO, a decline in ideology in favor of
a confrontation of specific crises such as the Korean war,
the H-bomb, an unwillingness to commit oneself to any
belief, and a quest for certitude in terms of internal
states while confronting the incomprehensibility of the
external world.
Having established the difference between these two
styles, Holland states that a playwright such as Ionesco in
a meta-play (Holland's term) creates in us a deep sense of
personal uncertainity about ourselves, an unclear relation
of self to object (audience to the work); he then offers
intellection as a self-defeating way of dealing with the
Norman N. Holland, "Recent Drama Criticism: Bathtubs
in the Nose," The Hudson Review, 17, 4 (Winter 1964),
622-23; 625-26.

33
miniature psychosis the play has caused. Brecht's style,
according to Holland, is between the postwar style and the
1930s style of theater. Believing the right attitude
toward any real, important phenomenon is a casual, contemp
tuous one, since it is the only one which permits concen
tration and alertness, Brecht calls for an attitude of
criticism and demands acting that will enable the audience
to draw abstract conclusions. In this way he is "post-
modernique." Yet to the extent that he is a Marxist, his
plays have both a social concern and a placing of events in
historical space and time that does not occur in meta
theater. Consequently his style can also be considered
"modernique." Holland concludes that Brecht has taken the
best of both the "modernique" style and the "postmodernique"
style by writing plays which are richer and more humane than
Ionesco's. His plays involve a belief, and although Brecht
confuses his audiences in a "postmodernique" way, he offers
belief as a solution to the conflicts of the play.
Fitch bases his analysis of epic and absurd theater on
structural elements in plays; Holland bases his on the reac
tion of the spectator. Both critics recognize a social
purpose in epic theater which is not present in absurd
theater. In January 1968, however, Rene Saurel voiced
discouragement concerning the fils de Brecht and the social
purpose of popular theater when reviewing four plays being
presented in suburban Parisian theaters: Adamov's La Poli
tique des restes (Thtre Grard-Philipe at Saint-Denis);

34
Brecht's Les Visions de Simon Marchar (Theatre de la
Commune at Aubervilliers)and La Neige au milieu de l't
and Le Voleur de fentmes by Kuan-Han-Ching (Theatre de
Sartrouville) directed by Patrice Chreau.One produc
tion denounced racism, one gave a cruel image of France
under the Occupation, and the third showed man trapped in
an iniquitous social order. Yet Saurel questioned how
effective popular theater was when stating:
On voudrait tre sr que ce thtre critique,
historique, ne se limite pas au temps de la
reprsentation donne au nom d'une "culture" en
train de passer au stade industriel et, hlas,
aux mains des affairistes, qu'il en reste un
ferment actif, un levain qui modifie le specta-
teur, si peu que ce soit, pour que celui-l
1'occasion, accepte le combat direct. Mais qui
peut affirmer que tous ces mythes, ces fables,
ce rpertoire pique, didactique, que ce travail
effectu par des hommes qui croient ce quils
font c'est le cas de Garran, de Valverd,
de Chreau ne demeure lettre morte.^
Since in Gaullist France one was staging plays by
Brecht, Gatti, and Adamov in state-supported theaters, it
appeared to Saurel that the popular theater offered the
government the opportunity to recuperate any contestation
while giving the impression of being a very liberal admin
istration. In the same article she concluded:
Renee Saurel, "Les Fils de Brecht et les fils
d'Artaud," Les Temps Modernes, 260 (Jan. 1968), p. 1308.
12 Saurel, "Les Fils de Brecht," p. 1316.

35
Qu'on le nomine thtre populaire, ou politique, ou
engage, ou de contestation, peu importe, ce qui
apparat c'est que ce thtre se dbat entre les
mailles d'un filet et que les hommes de bonne foi
qui le pratiquent s'puisent, et nous avec eux,
ressasser les termes d'une tragique contradiction.
The contradiction being that playwrights were attacking in
their plays the very government which was financing their
protests. Saurel judged that young directors such as
Lavelli, Garcia, and Savary, who staged an irrational, magic
kind of theater f ceremony or celebration in the line of
Artaud and opposed to Brecht's conception of theater, were
not experiencing a feeling of contradiction and powerless
ness, as were directors such as Chreau, Valverd, or Garran.
It is not the purpose of this study to establish that
one kind of theater in the 1960s was necessarily better than
other kinds. In fact it was the variety of theater experi
mentation in France, including "happenings" and controver
sial interpretations of French classics, which made the
decade exciting. A freedom of expression was common to many
projects. In her book Off-Stage Voices, Bettina Knapp
chooses a cross section of contemporary dramatists active in
the 1960s and classifies them under the following headings:
dramatists of the theater of the absurd (Robert Pinget,
Fernando Arrabal, Jacques Borel); poetic and imagistic
theater (Jean Vauthier, Marguerite Duras, Roland Dubillard,
13
Saurel, wLes Fils de Brecht," p. 1318.

36
Romain Weingarten, Nathalie Saurraute, Jean-Claude Carrire,
Frangois Billetdoux, Liliane Atlan); socially-oriented dra
matists (Armand Gatti, Georges Michel, Gabriel Cousin);
humorous and farcical theater (Jeanine Worms, Ren de Obaldi,
14
Rezvani). In addition, an interest in freely adapting
Shakespeare1s plays coincided with the attempt to create
political theater in France. Brecht served as an example
for such projects, since he freely adapted Shakespeare's
Coriolanus and spoke of Elizabethan theater and Shakespeare
in his theoretical works.
Shakespeare and Brecht as Models
Bernard Dort noted that Brecht simultaneously exalted
15
Shakespeare and turned him into derision. For Brecht
Shakespeare was at the same time the most qualified, and
therefore the most harmful, representative of what he called
"old" theater. He was also the precursor of the new theater
in which Brecht in the 1950s saw the necessary result of the
epic form.
While Brecht rejected the ideology of Shakespeare's
tragic vision of the universe, he did accept the forms of
Bettina Knapp, Off-Stage Voices: Interviews with
Modern French Dramatists, ed. Alba Amoie (Troy, N.Y.:
Whitson, 1975) p^ 1~.
^ Bernard Dort, "Brecht devant Shakespeare," Revue
d'Histoire de Thtre, 1 (1965), pp. 73-74.

37
the Elizabethan theater which appeared to him to be an antic
ipation of epic theater.^ According to Dort, everything
that was at hand could be included in Shakespeare's tragedy:
everyday events, tales of crime, history, legends, politics
and philosophy. Brecht also liked the fact that Shakespeare1 s
plays were not only adaptations of earlier works, but they
even contained in them whole fragments of former works. To
Brecht they appeared to be constructed according to the
basic technique of montage which permits including the
heterogeneous elements present in epic literature. Brecht
was also intrigued by Shakespeare's theater because it
could be considered to be a product of collective work, a
work which was never definitive since it was always open
to revisions. Furthermore, Brecht noted in Shakespeare's
plays V-effects: roles of women were played by men and the
countryside was not imitated by dcor but instead described
by the poet in the middle of the action.
In an article appearing in 1959 in Cit Panorama, a
review published by the Thtre de la Cit at Villeurbanne,
the reasons why Planchn's troupe found it particularly
appropriate to stage Shakespeare's Henry IV were stated as
follows:
- Parce que le "temps dangereux" o vcut
Shakespeare n'est pas sans ressembler au ntre.
16
Dort, p. 70.

38
- Parce que le theatre shakespearien, theatre de
l'hoinme, sans distinction de race, de nation, de
classe ou de culture, semble tre l1instrument
ideal d'une experience de thtre populaire
- Parce que les "caracteres" n'y sont jamais traits
pour eux-mmes, mais toujours travers de grandes
collisions historiques, et que les destins indivi
duis y sont toujours indissolublement lis au
destin collectif.
- Parce que, crit pour un public populaire, compris
par lui en son temps, le thtre shakespearien est ^
rest accessible au public populaire d'aujourd'hui.
But Jean Jacquot in his article entitled "Vers un thtre du
peuple" criticizes Planchn's interpretation of this play
of Shakespeare by stating:
II parait ressortir de tout ceci qu'un animateur qui
voudrait faire du thtre un instrument de culture
populaire, en montrant des pices qui donnent penser,
qui approfondissent la conscience et dveloppent
le sens des responsabilits, n'aurait qu' laisser
parler Shakespeare, et permettre son oeuvre de
s'organiser sur la scne selon la loi qui lui est
propre.
Jacquot believes such plays contain self-evident universal
values which do not need to be explained in a theater pro
duction .
Jacquot proceeds to state exactly which elements he does
not like in Planchn's production. These innovations
resemble Brechtian techniques. For example as a means to
"Pourquoi Henri IV?" Cit-Panorama, 4 (Apr.-May 1959)
cited by Jean Jacquot in "Vers un thtre du peuple,"
Etudes Anglaises, 2 (Apr.-June 1969), p. 233.
18
Jacquot, p. 234.

39
break up and counteract the poetic effect of the text during
a long monologue. Planchn has Henry IV stuff himself with
food. He adds silent scenes which show the suffering,
brutality, and humiliation endured by the soldiers and the
masses. Jacquot finds the mute scenes acceptable, but he
does not like the staging of the combat scene between prince
Henry and Hotspurs where the partisans of the prince are
shown to attack and kill Hotspurs. Nor does he like the
scene showing the prince accomplishing "curious gymnastics"
at the foot of a large crucifix in an inn, while expressing
repentence at a place in the text which Jacquot believes
19
does not suggest such repentence. He also dislikes the
idea of Falstaff being a spokesman for the people, the pro
jection of commentaries on a screen during the changing of
scenes, and the music used in fragments, superimposed or
mixed with other noise, to characterize institutions and
social groups. Brecht, however, encouraged such experimen
tation as witnessed by his notes on Coriolanus.
The English director Peter Brook who staged plays in
France during the 1960s believes there is a need to find
one's way "forward" to Shakespeare in the post-Brecht
20
theater. Since Shakespeare's theater allowed the play
wright to move from the world of action to the world of
19
Jacquot,
P-
235.
Peter Brook, The Empty Space (New York: Avon, 1969),
p. 33.

40
inner impressions, Brook sees both Brecht and Beckett con
tained in Shakespeare unreconciled. The spectator identi
fies emotionally, subjectivelyand yet can evaluate polit
ically, objectively in relation to the society. In a state
ment about the structural elements of Shakespeare's plays
Brook concludes:
Because the profound reaches past the everyday, a
heightened language and a ritualistic use of rhythm
brings us to those very aspects of life which the
surface hides: and yet because the poet and the
visionary do not seem like ordinary people, because
the epic state is not one on which we normally dwell,
it is equally possible for Shakespeare with a break
in his rhythm, a twist into prose, a shift into
slangy conversation or else a direct word from the
audience to remind us in plain common sense-of
where we are and to return us to the familiar rough
world of spades as spades.21
The element of "roughness" which Brook finds in Shake
speare is also the theater which Brook characterizes as
popular, a source which he believes continually revives the
genre. Through the ages popular theater has taken many
forms and the factor which they have in common is roughness.
It is a theater close to the people which uses such elements
as satire and grotesque caricature, asides, placards,
topical references, local jokes, songs, dances, contrasts,
22
exaggeration, false noses, stock types, and slapstick.
Brook sees this quality of roughness in the Elizabethan
21
Brook,
P-
80.
22
Brook,
pp.
59-64.

41
theater and in the present-day English theater. He strongly
believes that along with serious, committed work there must
be irresponsibility. He views the gaiety on which this
theater feeds as the same energy that produces rebellion
and opposition. The wish to change society and to get it to
confront eternal hypocrises can be dealt with through such
characters as Falstaff and Tartuffe, who provide the author
with a means to attack and criticize through laughter.
In the early 1960s Roger Planchn's troupe pieced
together a play which they entitled Les Trois Mousquetaires
in the "rough" spirit that Brook defined in 1969. Dumas'
novel was simply used as a framework. The authors and
directors of that era/ Brecht, Claudel, Vilar, Barrault and
Planchn himself (particularly their styles of directing),
were pitted against one another in a satiric manner. Fol
lowing May 1968, Planchn's troupe staged "La Contestion
et la Mise en Pieces de la plus illustre des tragedies fran-
gaises Le Cid de Pierre Corneille, suivie d'une "cruelle"
mise a mort de 1'Auteur dramatique et d'une distribution
gracieuse de diverses conserves culturelles." In this
collective work inspired by Planchn the problems of con
temporary theater are parodied (Hair as well as Arrabal,
Grotowski, and maisons de la culture ). May 1968 is com
memorated by a ballet with large black flags and red flags,
and graffiti. Rene Saurel commenting on the play describes

42
it as "la joyeuse mise au tombeau d'une poque et la fin
23
d'une grande illusion."
The productions of Ariane Mnouchkine's Theatre du
Soleil took a similar direction in the 1970s. In some
respects, however, their research in popular theater seems
to lack the vitality of opposition which Brook defines as
"roughness." The troupe is not actually playing to a
popular audience and their experimentation emphasizes a
critical examination of the theater as theater more than
a gaiety aimed at producing rebellion or effective social
criticism.
Brecht and the Actor
One more aspect that should be discussed in relation
to Brecht is the importance of the profession of acting in
the 1960s and the 1970s. The new attention directed toward
the actor in France is evidenced by Jean Duvignaud's
L'Acteur: Esquisse d'une sociologie du comdien (1965), and
Odette Aslan's L'Acteur au XX sicle; Evolution de la tech
nique, prbleme d'thique (1974).
Duvignaud thinks the actor represents all the possibil
ities of an era and of a society.^ According to him, the
23
Rene Saurel, "Avec Gignoux, Planchn et Rtor."
Les Temps Modernes, 282 (Jan. 1970), p. 1120.
24
Jean Duvignaud, L'Acteur; Esquisse d'une sociologie
du comdien (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), p. 169.

43
actor in our times has a new social role. He has been
elevated to the level of a creator, since he is not only
an interpretor but also an inventor who creates the forms
of live participation. This trend is associated with the
liberation of the theater through new techniques and the
appearance of new audiences. An actor in the theater or in
films is often a metteur en scene, and his being an actor
has an influence on how dramatic works will be interpreted.
Although he is seldom an author, he sometimes participates
in collective writing and does assume most of the other
activities involved in the practice of theater. In the
comtemporary society the actor has also taken on the symbols
of politics and engagement.
Odette Aslan, basing most of her remarks on Brechts
theoretical works Schriften zum Theater (Writings on
Theater), defines a committed and politically engaged actor
as a Brechtian actor who is part of a theater group having
25
a political objective. He therefore studies all the
aspects of the proposed situation in a play by interrogating
himself and formulating his objections. To create the dis-
tanciation needed to discover the various aspects of a role,
roles are not distributed in function of the physical aspects
of the actors, during rehearsals actors exchange roles, and
sometimes roles are ridiculed by comic actors. This
25
Odette Aslan,
technique, problme d'thique
L'Acteur au XX
(Paris
sicle: Evolution de la
Seghers, 1974) p. 162.

44
distanciation is related to the actor's intention to make
society better by inciting the spectator to take part in
the struggle to stop the inequality of different classes.
The actor wants to show the spectator the alternatives
which are open to the character. Besides what one decides
to do, there also exists what one has decided not to do.
Referring to the techniques used by actors to struc
ture a play's staging, Aslan states that each scene exists
in itself, although the actor indicates at all times a
2 6
relationship with the final scene. The insertion of pro
jections on screens, the intrusion of music, and bright
lights work to break up the continuity of the acting. The
actor passes from prose to verse and from speaking to sing
ing, with the songs being a part of the antiillusionist
interruptions in the spectacle. Gestures are selected
which express the global attitude of the social character
istic illustrated in the play. This gestus is the mimed
expression of the social relationships which are established
between men of a certain period. The spoken text of the
actor is broken down in function of the gestus. Beyond the
sense of each phrase, the actor works to put into light the
fundamental gestus. These gestures can be brusk, syncopated
or contradictory. The dcor, costumes, accessories, and
everything which constitutes the mise en scene should work
to facilitate the actor's actions.
26
Aslan, pp. 171; 299.

45
Aslan considers Roger Planchn and Giogio Strehler
to be directors influenced by Brecht's idea of distancia-
tion and a desire to politicize the spectacle by establish
ing a link between what is happening on the stage and what
is taking place in the actual world. It should be remem
bered, however, that Aslan summarizes Brecht's theories
abcut acting; in practice various directors and theater
groups interpret Brecht's theories in different ways.

CHAPTER III
POLITICAL THOUGHT
Cultural Revolution
As early as 1916 ideas such as cogestion, workers'
councils, and cultural revolution were being discussed in
Italy. Antonio Gramsci, a revolutionary socialist, defined
then what many theater activists and Brechtian critics in
France in the 1960s advocated as the purpose of culture in
relation to popular theater. For Gramsci culture has noth
ing to do with a university degree.'1' Rather than formal
ized education, it is a disciplining of one's inner self to
come to terms with one's own personality. Culture is the
attainment of a higher awareness with which one succeeds in
understanding one's own historical value, function in life,
rights and obligations. According to Gramsci, however, it
is only by degrees that humanity acquires this consciousness
of its own value, and wins for itself the right to throw off
the patterns of organization imposed on it by minorities at
previous periods in history. This consciousness is formed
Antonio Gramsci, "Socialism and Culture," II Grido
del Popolo, 29 January 1916, in Antonio Gramsci: Selections
from Political Writings 1910-1929, trans. John Mathews
(New York: International Publisher, 1977), pp. 12-13.
46

47
as a result of intelligent reflection at first by just a
few people and later by a whole class on why certain con
ditions exist and how best to convert the facts of oppres
sion into rebellion and social change.
This means that every revolution is preceded by an
intense period of criticism, and the diffusion of culture
and ideas among masses of men. Gramsci cites as an example
the French Revolution. The Enlightenment (the preceding
cultural period) was a revolution in itself. It gave Europe
a unified bourgeois consciousness, one which was sensitive
to the misfortunes of the common people and which prepared
the way for the revolt that followed in France. Napoleon's
armies found their road already prepared by books and pam
phlets that had come out of Paris in the first half of the
eighteenth century. After the French events had created a
unified consciousness, a demonstration in Paris was enough to
provoke similar disturbances in Milan, Vienna, and smaller
cities in France, Germany, and Italy.
Gramsci saw the same phenomenon occurring in 1916 in
the case of socialism. It was through a critical view of
capitalist civilization that the unified consciousness of
the proletariat was being formed. This critical view implied
Gramsci's definition of culture, that is a consciousness of
a self which is opposed to others, which is differentiated,
and which can judge facts and events in so far as they tend
to drive history forward or backward in terms of social

48
progress. Thus, Gramsci's view of the purpose of culture
connotes political involvement.
In 1922 in Russia, new literary groups sprang up propa
gating ideas in manifestos and pamphlets which proclaimed
2
freedom from the previous culture. Such groups as the agit
prop (agitation and propaganda), the Proletcult (proletarian
culture), the Constructivists, the peasant writers, and the
Formalists prepared the way for a critical view of the
existing society. The Russian Futurists established them
selves in the Commissariat for Popular Education and suc
ceeded for a time in controlling cultural life. Mayakovsky
traveled throughout the country reading poetry in factories.
His Mystery-Bouffe (1918) written for popular festivals is a
mixture of heroic deeds and aggressive buffoonery. It was
staged by Meyerhold on the first anniversary of the Revo
lution. Written just ten years after the Revolution,
Mayakovsky's last works express hatred of the new class of
Communist elite. His satires The Bedbug (1928) and The Bath
(1929) illustrate a Stalinist bureaucracy.
Toward the end of the 1920s the favorable conditions
which had made possible the creative development of art in
the Soviet Union were wiped out. Mayakovsky committed sui
cide in 1930. In 1932 all artists' groups formed during the
Jiirgen Riihle, Literature and Revolution: A Critical
Study of the Writer and Communism in the Twentieth Century,
trans. Jean Steinberg (New York: Frederick A. Prager, 1969)
pp. 3; 5; 14; 18.

49
Revolution were disbanded and reformed into a single league
of Soviet writers. In the transition from the revolutionary
to the totalitarian phase in Soviet cultural policy men like
Meyerhold were murdered. Under Stalin, socialist realism
became the guiding principle of Soviet cultural policy.
The term "socialist realism" was first used by Maxim
Gorky who had in mind a vague combination of realism and
socialist romanticism.^ Using Gorky's name, Zhdanov,
Stalin's cultural ideologist, speaking at the First Writers'
Congress decreed that socialist realism was to become the
official art doctrine. The concept remained unclear although
bureaucrats and ideologists see it as a combination of a
few basic principles such as "party-mindedness," "folkminded
ness," optimism, and positive heroes. Socialist realism is
actually a political category growing out of a totalitarian
system. It is primarily used as an instrument of mass per
suasion and psychological intimidation. Although the power
of persuasion inherent in art makes the Communists want to
control culture, a socialist realism which seeks to repre
sent reality not as it is but as it ought to be destroys the
power of art.
The totalitarian attempt to control art is not derived
from Marxist theory. According to the Marxist concept of
art as superstructure, the economic base (which includes the
geographic base, social milieu, and race) does not influence
3
Rhle, pp. 78-79.

50
ideology particularly more remote spheres like art and
literature directly or deterministically, but instead
4
through a variety of factors. Tradition, individuality,
and social change play some part. Ideology in turn influ
ences the economic base and helps shape economic and his
torical processes. Art stands in an extremely complicated
and contradictory relationship to the social base and to
politics and can never be completely understood sociolog
ically or determined. Moreover every work of art contains
personal and aesthetic aspects which have nothing to do
with social history. In their fight for the liberation of
art. Communist writers such as Kolakowski, Lukcs, and
Garaudy take refuge in Marx. In doing so they contradict
the Leninist social concept which is totalitarian and con
tinues to serve as the guideline in the the Soviet Union.
In Germany after the First World War it became apparent
that Expressionism was not merely a revolt against existing
art forms. The destruction of existing forms indicated the
5
destruction of the existing social order. The intellec
tual revolution preceded the political revolution. Expres
sionists such as Kurt Eisner, Ernst Toller,Walter Hasenclever
and Bertolt Brecht were also members of the Independent
Social Democratic Party. They helped set up revolutionary
Rhle, pp. 131-32; 135-38.
5
Rhle, pp. 147-49.

51
governments and sat on workers' councils. With the decline
of the revolutionary wave, the Independent Social Democratic
Party disbanded; its left wing went over to the Communist
Party in 1920 and its right wing returned to the Social Dem
ocratic Party in 1922. In 1923 a new trend evolved called
"New Objectivism." It included topical novels and journal
istic reportage, epic and documentary plays, reviews, popu
lar songs, and jazz. Its aim was to have literature look
at the world objectively and realistically, in order to
form a critical view of the world.
In 1942 Mao Tse-tung, a founding member of the Commun
ist Party in China, summoned the left-wing writers to a
conference in Communist-held Yenan Province and proposed
g
Lu Hsin as a model to follow. Mao asked writers to break
with the classical literary tradition by writing in the
language of the workers, peasants, and soldiers. Hu Feng,
a Communist since the 1920s and a close friend of Lu Hsin,
was regarded as China's leading Marxist literary critic.
Like Lu Hsin, he was involved in constant arguments with the
Party bureaucrats. After Stalin's death he launched an
attack on Communist cultural policy which demanded that a
revolutionary writer adhere to Communist ideology, develop
an understanding of the lives of workers, peasants and
soldiers, follow the Party line, and confine himself to
6
Rhle, pp. 410; 420; 431.

52
officially approved themes. In July 1954 Hu Feng submitted
his program for liberalization directly to the Central Com
mittee. In the spring of the following year, all the cul
tural groups of the Chinese People's Republic passed reso
lutions denouncing Hu Feng's heresy. He subsequently was
arrested and tried.
Between 1966 and 1968 took place the Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution which dominated events in China for a
decade. It was Mao's third purge of intellectuals and its
stated goal was the eradication of the four evils: old
ideas, old culture, old morality, and old customs. When Mao
perceived a growing hierarchization of administrative and
political structures threatening to reintroduce forms of
privilege and discrimination which had been associated with
capitalism, he used the concept of cultural revolution to
engage the Chinese people in a political struggle to combat
this hierarchization. The Cultural Revolution in China
stressed the importance of ideas and of understanding every
activity in terms of the class struggle. An essential prin
ciple was to combat the division between mental and manual
labor to enable the masses to participate directly in the
ideological struggle. The excesses of the Cultural Revolu
tion in China turned the campaign into a personality cult
around Mao.
In France during the 1960s it was the linking of the
importance of the personal struggle, particularly in the
ideological field, with a commitment to the Third World that.

53
made Maoism an appropriate form for the expression of
hatred of the consumer society with links to underdeveloped
7
countries and markets. Jean-Luc Godard was attracted to
Maoism because it did not dictate in advance the form of
films that must be made. It insisted that this was an open
question which, as in other areas of ideological struggle,
must be solved by a combination of practical experiment and
theoretical reflection. Godard's commitment to Maoism was
to wane after 1972 but between 1967 and 1972 he worked on
films with Maoist students. He first came in contact with
them while filming La Chinoise (1967). He collaborated with
Jean-Pierre Gorin, a young French Maoist, on the last four
Dziga-Vertov films: Vent d'est (1970), Lotte in Italia (1970),
Valdimir et Rosa (1970) and the unfinished Jusqu'. la vic
to ire (1970), as well as on the films Tout va bien (1972)
and Letter to Jane (1972).
The New Left
The new left in the West in the 1960s introduced a new
era moved by new impulses and ideas. The Bolsheviks had
Colin MacCabe, Godard: images, Sounds, Politics
(Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1980), p. 58.
o
The Vertov group was named after the Soviet film
maker Dziga Vertov. In the 1920s he insisted that the main
concern then was the current state of the class struggle.
He also emphasized the importance of montage before shooting
films. Godard formed the Vertov Group with French Maoist
students in the late 1960s.

54
failed to grasp the necessity for the revolutionary process
to be accompanied by a "reform of consciousness," such as
the young Marx and subsequently Gramsci had called for, by
which the proletariat would become intellectually and emo-
tionally emancipated from the existing system. The strug
gle against political and economic power carried on by radi
cal minorities only becomes revolutionary when accompanied
by a struggle for a reform of consciousness within the
masses. Herein lies the relevance of the cultural Marxists
of the 1920s and 1930s for the new left in the 1960s. The
former most clearly understood the necessity of overcoming
the dichotomy between the personal and the political.
According to these cultural revolutionaries the critical
economic consciousness of Marxism -its grasp of the
dynamics of social and historical life had to be fused
with a comprehension of the factors underlying everyday life
and the forces conditioning the psychic development of the
individual personality. Such a broadened perspective would
restore the problems of the individual to a central position
alongside those of the collectivity, and would facilitate
the control of individuals over their everyday lives without
external constraints.
Bruce Brown, Marx, Freud, and the Critique of Every
day Life: Toward a Permanent 'Cultural Revolution (New York:
Monthly Review Press, 1973), pp. 15-16, 22-29.

55
In France between the two World Wars the surrealists
sought a method of cultural revolution based on a new con
ception of human possibilities and aimed at unlocking
physical and psychological barriers between the conscious
and the unconscious, the inner world and the outer world, so
as to create a sur-ralit in which the real and the imag
inary would fuse and dominate life. The existing social,
scientific, and philosophical values were to be radically
transformed through the liberation of the unconscious. In
Central Europe, Wilhelm Reich was investigating a new cul
tural revolution project based on the idea that forms of
class domination imposed on the masses by repressive society
were related to a parallel process of psychological and
sexual repression imposed on individuals during socializa
tion within the patriarchal family.
What both Reich and the surrealists were attempting to
do in their reformulations of revolutionary thought, Reich
through a synthesis of Freud and Marx and the surrealists
through a less systematic unification of politics, psycho
logy, and art, was to develop a new definition of radical
politics which would overcome the insufficiency of Marxism.
They were among the first to recognize the revolutionary
potential contained within the crisis of everyday life as it
was beginning to be revealed in the 1920s by the breakdown
of the patriarchal family, of traditional sexual morality,
and of old cultural patterns. The emergence of struggles on

56
the part of women and youth for greater independence and in
search of new life-styles evidenced this change.
After having been neglected for decades, the original
cultural revolutionary project emerged throughout the indus
trial West during the 1960s as a "new" left. From the per
spective of the new left it appears that the antiauthori
tarian student movement, the youth culture, the revolts of
minorities within the industrial countries, and the move
ment for female and sexual liberation constitute potentially
revolutionary responses to capitalist exploitation and
oppression. Of fundamental importance to the new leftists
are the claims of the individual against the power of a
bureaucratic administrative apparatus which has fragmented
all social activity.
To the socio-economic critique of capitalism begun by
Marx, Freud's psychoanalysis added an attack on the tradi
tional values of bourgeois society and its institutions and
the realities of socio-economic and psycho-sexual repression.
It offered a means of liberation to attack inherited ideals,
myths, and moral patterns, and provided the basis for a
new practice of individual self-enlightenment and creation.
Not until around 1955 did the links between psychoanalysis
and Marxism become once again explicit and the discussion
of the original Freudian Marxist themes of theorists like
Reich, Fromm, and Horkheimer take place in the works of
Herbert Marcuse and younger writers such as Jiirgen Habermas
and Reimut Reiche.

57
The perspective of Wilhelm Reich and others found its
most important postwar voice in the French review Socialisme
ou Barbarie. The new left's interest in the ideas of the
1930s updated to our time includes the impact of automation
and cybernation, which transform the relations between
worker and machine and the nature of administration and
knowledge of production; the growth of cities and the urban
ization of the countryside; the disappearance of the peasant
or the independent farmer class in the industrial countries;
and the radicalization of the peasantry in the Third World.
Along with these processes accompanying the transition from
competitive capitalism into state capitalism there is a
second revolution in the sphere of everyday life.'*' Charac
teristics of this transformation are the dissolution of
the patriarchal family, the emancipation of youth and women,
the liberation of sexuality, increased leisure, consumption,
and the education of the proletarian masses.
An important element for the new left in this trans
formation of society is the idea of a fragmented struggle.
Reich formulated in the 1930s that class contradiction
expresses itself in actual class struggle indirectly.^
Revolutionary struggle is diffuse as well as specifically
directed. It is expressed throughout the various cultural
spheres and institutional contexts in specific conflicts
10
Brown,
pp.
149-50;
178-79
11
Brown,
pp.
135-36;
143.

58
and transformations of individuals.rather than in a direct
opposition of capital and labor. Therefore, the struggle
of the proletarians to liberate themselves effectively from
class domination requires not only an assault on the power
of capital but also a concept and practice of cultural rev
olution and psychological self-liberation. Political work
is seen as necessarily going beyond propagandistic criti
cism of existing society to take on a constructive aspect.
It is sought to cause a coming-to-consciousness within
different groups through a process of confronting different
concrete problems in the interests of a struggle for the
self-organization of different aspects of daily life.
According to the new leftists, in the face of world
wide organization of repression, the reemergence of opposi
tion has had to begin with a return to the basic reassertion
of differentiationthat is, the contestation launched out
side of the established "apparatus" and conducted in the
name of racial, cultural, linguistic, and sexual particu-
12
lansm. Therefore the developments of revolutionary move
ments, both in the Third World and among the colonized
minorities of the metropolitan countries, are fought in
the name of national independence and ethnic solidarity,
and not proletarian internationalism. The politicization of
youth and women and blacks in the industrial West has taken
12
Brown, pp. 192; 196-97.

59
place through a process of refusing pseudouniversal ideol
ogies in the name of revolutionary particularism. From the
new leftists' point of view we no longer have a generalized
conception of a civilization capable of inspiring a unified
individual to revolt. Instead, we have a many-sided revolu
tionary praxis, carried on simultaneously at every level
and consisting of a multiplicity of projects, each creating
new institutions, new identities, and new organs of direct
democracy.
What was called cultural revolution in the 1960s was
the reinvigoration of the endeavors launched by past gener
ations of revolutionaries. New problems posed by the con
temporary world crisis were taken up by the struggles asso
ciated with the idea of a new left and posed by it on a
level which was largely limited to the aesthetic or imag
inary realm. These included reappropriating the integrity
of our individual and social dimensions through the release
of suppressed creative needs and passions by the liberation
of language, and the reassertion of the modes of communica
tion which have been suppressed.
At the height of the new left movement's initial burst
of enthusiasm during the late 1960s, it had seemed that
cultural and political radicalism could be united in the
same effort. In the aftermath of repression and disappoin
ted hope, however, disillusionment set in and this unity
was broken, leaving the political radicals with their ideo
logical slogans and organizations, and the cultural

60
revolutionaries convinced that organized work was a waste
of time. The disagreement and disappointment concerning
the relationship between culture and politics were particu
larly visible in what happened to the popular theater move
ment in France.
Class Struggle/ Structure/ Ideology
In the French context Louis Althusser, a member of the
Communist Party, renewed interest in Marx by applying a
structuralist approach to Marxist theories and to literary
criticism. Among other works he published "Comment lire
'Le Capital'" (1965), Pour Marx (1966), and Lnine et la
philosophie (1969) in the 1960s.
Althusser considers The Capital (Marx' critique of
capitalist economy and the basis for scientific socialism
published in 1867) to still be relevant, since it illu
strates the mechanism of bourgeois exploitation of the pro
letariat through increases in the hours of work, intensifi
cation of productivity and the cadence of work, decreases
13
m salary, and unemployment. He believes The Capital
makes it possible for workers, salaried employees, managers,
and some intellectual "workers" such as teachers, research
ers, engineers, technicians, doctors, architects, and
Louis Althusser, "Comment lire 'Le Capital'," in
Positions (1964-1975) (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1975),
P- 158.

61
students to understand the mechanisms of capitalist society
in order to orient themselves in the class struggle.
Updating Marx' ideas, Althusser states that capitalism
functions without massacres in metropolitan countries, but
in practice its methods of massacres and robbing is trans
ferred to the Third World: Latin America, Africa, Asia
with a most recent example being seen in the massacres by
14
Americans m Vietnam. He considers the case m Vietnam
to mark a different phase, however, since people have
learned to organize and defend themselves.
Althusser, as a Western Marxist, developed the ideas of
Mao Tse-tung by theorizing about the importance of cultural
struggle. In an essay entitled "Ideology and Ideological
State Apparatuses" (1971) he states that it is not a ques
tion of opposing truth to ideology, but rather a question of
analyzing particular ideological struggles; that is, the
15
function of any particular system of representations.
These systems of representations are not simply a matter of
ideas; they are systems of particular practices which
produce them. These practices are organized on a political
basis that has to be recognized and struggled against.
In the analysis of classical Marxist-Leninist theory,
it was traditional to consider that the state possessed
14
Althusser,
"Comment lire," pp. 50; 55; 58.
15
MacCabe, p. 65.

62
a number of repressive apparatuses (the police, the army) to
maintain the control of the dominant class. Althusser's
originality was to postulate that ideological state appara
tuses maintained the dominance of the ruling class through
noncoercive means by producing subjects willing to repro
duce the relations of production. He considered the two
most important state apparatuses in the cultural struggle to
be education and the family.
Viewed by Althusser, the Marxist totality is a com
plex unity of separate and specific levels which may be
relatively autonomous of each other within a given historical
social formation. The essential point is that the Marxist
totality is not to be understood as a simple dialectic of
essence (the economic base) versus the phenomena (the super
structure) where the latter is reducible to the former, but
as a complex internally structured totality of various
layers and levels interrelated in all sorts of relations of
16
determination. The totality is asymmetrical and may be
dominated by one of its elements.
Althusser's interpretation of history illustrates well
his concept of the Marxist totality. According to him,
history can be given content only by defining historical
time as a specific form of existence of a social totality
with structural levels of different temporalities in
Miriam Glucksmann, Structuralist Analysis in Contem
porary Social Thought; A Comparison of the Theories of
Claude Lvi-Strauss and Louis Althusser (London; Routledge
and Kegan Paul), 1974), p. 107.

63
relations of correspondence and noncorrespondence.
Different levels of the totality are considered to have their
own time-scale related to their relative autonomy. These
levels may be related to each other in different ways at
different moments. The relationship between one social for
mation and the one that follows it is to be understood in
terms of displacement rather than as the gradual unfolding
of an innate development. Each element has its own history
and time-scale and the resultant structure must be viewed as
a more or less conjunctural unity of different and separate
histories. There is no general time base or general concep
tion of time which can comprehend this structural history.
Althusser thus introduces a flexible analysis of the social
formation which conceives of different types of internal
relationships between its elements. From a Marxist point of
view he continues Lenin and Gramsci's critique of academicism
and determinism, and elaborates an understanding of the
relationship between theoretical and political practice.
Althusser believes that theory is part of the struc
ture of forces that men can use politically to change the
world in a revolutionary way. This relationship between
theoretical and political practice can be illustrated by
discussing his article on materialist theater which includes
a structuralist analysis of Brecht's use of distancing
17
Glucksmann, p. 109.

64
18
effects. In this article Althusser speaks of a latent
asymmetrical-critical structure in Brecht's plays Mother
Courage and Galileo. The dynamic force of this latent
structure, which consists of the coexistence without any
explicit relation of a dialectical temporality and a non-
dialectical temporality, is the basis for a critique of the
illusions of consciousness. In Mother Courage, the war is
opposed to the personal tragedies of her blindness; in
Galileo, history is slower than consciousness impatient for
the truth. The silent confrontation of a consciousness with
a reality which is indifferent makes possible a critique of
the illusions of consciousness. According to Althusser, it
is not the dialogue of the play which produces this critique,
but the internal balances and imbalances of forces between
the elements of the play's structure.
Althusser thinks consciousness does not accede to
reality through its own internal development, but through
19
the discovery of what is other than itself. For this
reason be believes Brecht overcame a problematic aspect of
the classical theater when he excluded any pretentions to
self-recovery and self-representation in the consciousness
of self in a hero. Classical theater was inclined to
Louis Althusser, "Le Piccolo Bertolazzi et Brecht:
notes sur un theatre matrialiste," in Pour Marx (Paris:
Maspero, 1965), p. 142, 145-48.
19
Althusser, Pour Marx, p. 144

65
represent itself and recognize itself in an uncritical
theater whose ideological material presupposed the formal
conditions for an aesthetic of the consciousness of self as
an identification with the hero. The themes of the classi
cal theater (politics, morality, religion, honor, glory,
passion) are ideological themes. This uncriticized ideology
is, in fact, the myths in which a society can recognize
itself, and the mirror it must break if it is to know itself.
Brecht's principal aim is to produce a critique of the
20
spontaneous ideology in which men live. The dynamic force
of the latent structure in Brecht's plays results from the
relationship existing between the consciousness of self
alienated in spontaneous ideology (mother Courage and her
sons) and the real conditions of their existence (war,
society). This relationship can only be acted and repre
sented as characters, with their gestures, acts, and story
working as structural elements in a play.
According to Althusser, the distance achieved by the
structure of Brecht's great plays .is simply an active and
21
living critique. The play is actually the development and
the production of a new consciousness in the spectator, who
after the end of the performance starts to act and complete
the play in real life.
20
Althusser, Pour Marx,
P
145.
21
Althusser, Pour Marx, p. 151.

66
In the 1960s the rise of structuralism was the distin
guishing feature in philosophy and methodology. "Struc
turalism" does not designate a philosophical thesis, but
points to the use of the notion of a structure as a tool, a
method, or an explanatory category. The term "structure"
was taken from linguistics and mathematics. The important
impact of linguistics on philosophy occurred in conjunction
with the rise in structuralism. Attention was directed
toward language as a structure and as the production of
knowledge.
Jacques Lacan, who bases his work on a reinterpretation
of Freud, first published some of his famous seminars in a
large volume entitled Ecrits (1966). Lacan thinks the uncon
scious is structured and its structures manifest themselves
in its "language" (dreams, slips of the tongue, jokes).
These structures, he believes, must be interpreted according
to the techniques of modern linguistics. A quotation from
his lecture "De la jouissance" illustrates how he relates
the structure of language and the expression of sex.
Tout ce qui s'est articul de l'etre suppose qu'on
puisse se refuser au prdicat et dire l'homme est
par exemple sans dire quoi. Ce qu'il en est de l'tre
est troitement reli cette section du prdicat.
Des lors, rien ne peut en tre dit sinon par des
dtours en impasse, des dmonstrations d'impossi-
bilit logique, par o aucun prdicat ne suffit. Ce
qui est de l'tre, d'un tre qui se poserait comme
absolu, n'est jamais que la fracture, la cassure.

67
11 interruption de la formule tre sexu en tant que
l'tre sexu est intress dans la jouissance.22
Claude Lvi-Strauss uses linguistics and its structural
method to account for various systems of marriage and kin
ship; he asserts there is a close analogy between language
structures and kinship relations. In his Le Cru et le cuit
(1964), his sequence on mythologies, he researches the
structure of myths. Believing in the invariability of
mental structure, he concentrates on synchronic descriptions
and explanations.
Opposition to the structuralists has come from Marxists
like Henri Lefebvre who stress the importance of the indivi
dual in a diachronic, linear view of history. During the
1960s Lefebvre analyzed the concept of ideologies and how
they function in relation to culture. In his Le Langage
et la socit (1966) he gives the following definition of
an ideology:
Une idologie comprend toujours que son agent
d'Elaboration ou d'utilisation soit un groupe, une
classe ou une nation plusieurs aspects: repre
sentation de soi pour soi, representation de soi
pour les autres. Plusieurs images s'entrecroisent:
image du monde, image de la socit, image de l'homme.
Et cela h travers quelque chose de partiel (qui se
veut total) et de partiel (que se dit vrai): 1'idol
ogie. Avec une tendance A la cohrence, et mme A
22
Jacques Lacan
Jacques-Alain Miller
, Le Sminaire d Jacques Lacan,
(Paris: Seuil, 1975), p. 16.
ed.

68
la systematisation, ce qui n'exclut as les con
tradictions, voire les incoherences.^
From the viewpoint of sociology, Lefebvre believes ideolo
gies are essential elements of cultures and civilizations.
Yet, in his L1Ideologic structuraliste (1971), he views
structuralist ideology as being the harmful ideology of
24
those m power between 1960 and 1970. In his opinion the
approach of the structuralists neglected real processes and
real problems in the society.
Although the intelligentsia in France are on the left,
it is often the right which filters the ideas of the left
to adopt them to the existing social relations. In the case
of structuralist thought Lefebvre views the retreat of intel
lectual thought towards the archeology of social sciences,
that is the return to primitive cultures, as a means of
escaping the present by finding the actual time in the
archaic. By doing this, intellectuals indirectly disavowed
the aspirations of the Third World. Lefebvre also thinks
the attempts to try and "structure" the modern society by
such means as the coupure pistemologique and other mental
concepts worked to conserve the established order. Concern
ing many structuralists preoccupations with language
Henri Lefebvre, Le Langage et la Socit (Paris:
Gallimard, 1966), p. 321.
Henri Lefebvre, L1IdeoTogie structuraliste (Paris:
Anthropos, 1971, pp. 10-11.

69
Lefebvre notes:
Effectivement, des que nous y pensons, le fait d'etre
pris dans un systme la fois opaque et translucide,
le langage, et de ne pas pouvoir en sortir, n'est-il
pas angoissant? II y a un systme, ou le Systme.
Sous le langage, un abime, une bance. La-dessus
1'horizon desert. Le langage n'a pas de rfrentiel.
II ne renvoie a rien d'autre, ni au reel, ni a
l'homme, ni a 1'oeuvre ou a telle oeuvre, ni au
quotidien ou bien au non-quotidien. 5
He also does not like the premise of proposing a model, a
mental construction, be it methodological or epistemological,
which is supposed to eliminate from the actual world many
illusions and appearances as well as the individual, the
subject as discourse. Such action affirms the identity of
that which is real and intelligible to be in the system.
From a mental concept one jumps to a social reality and to
a normalization of this reality.
In his Au-del du structuralism (1971) Lefebvre gives
a long, excellent description of his interpretation of the
evolution of the bourgeois class in relation to its ideol-
2 6
ogy. Leftist writers in France view bourgeois ideology as
the dominant ideology in French society. Since much of the
contestation of the left is directed against the bourgeois
class and the idea leftists have of bourgeois ideology, it
ZD Lefebvre, L' ldeologie structuraliste, pp. 71-72.
2 6
Henri Lefebvre, Au-dela du structuralism (Paris:
Anthropos, 1971, pp. 170-92.

70
is important to summarize some of Lefebvre's main conclu
sions. According to him, the old style of the bourgeoisie
which created its own world within the home and the family
no longer exists. The bourgeoisie was forced to enlarge
its horizons to the whole world in order to reaffirm its
position. In doing so, it imposed its own norms on French
society. The moral tradition of the bourgeoisie continues
to propose the family as the norm and model of social life.
The family is the source of virtues, values, regular behav
ior and regulating behavior. But in order to adapt to
modern conditions, the bourgeoisie accommodated itself with
immorality. Crimes, adulterous love, and homosexuality
were reduced to aberrations of bourgeois moral attitudes.
In this way the bourgeoisie succeeded in gaining a large
segment of the society to accept its ideology. Conse
quently its moral tradition could be used as an ideological
instrument.
The bourgeoisie's fear began in 1918, and continued in
1936 (The Popular Front), in 1945 (the Liberation), and in
1958. Each time the bourgeoisie succeeded, in the name of
morals and esthetics, in neutralizing and capturing the
surge of revolutionary ideas, and in adapting to the new
era. The bourgeoisie continually installed and imposed
its moral order after each revolutionary period. The con
cept of this moral order is both ethical and political.
Through the moral order, the political power imposes a
social order which suits it. It permits various moral

71
attitudes to exist on the condition that they do not serve
the opposition. This moral order contains in it the nega
tion of morality under the guise of official public morals.
In this way an ideology in which no one believes evolved
into official virtues which emphasize the "values" of inte
gration and adaptation, and regulate behavior on a global
scale in the society. This ideology, which presents modes
and patterns of behavior rather than symbolic images, is
described by Lefebvre in the following way:
Cette ideologic comporte une part d'utopie, mais
une utopie tres particulire: la conservation de
l'existant et de la stabilit considre comme
indfiniment possible et comme infiniment sou-
haitable. ... II enveloppe une apologie du normal
et du sain, par opposition au malsain et 1'anormal,
avec des techniques et recettes pour obtenir la
moralit sociale et individuelle. On I'obtient par
1'adaptation et 1'intgration, par 1'adoption de
conduites rgulatrices, par l'acception des
"modeles" et patterns. Plusieurs mythes consacrent
les conditions de la stabilit: comme dans l'Etat
existant, plnitude de la personnalit des chefs,
srnit des responsables, aptitude des comptents,
souverainet des experts.27
Lefebvre changes around the structuralists' idea of the
2 8
end of history and gives it a different meaning. For him
the end of history as appearance and as a philosophy which
justifies the legitimacy of the appearance of the bourgeoisie
Lefebvre, Au^-deli du structuralisme, p. 175.
2 8
Andr Vachet,"De-la fin de l'histoire & 1'analyse
diffrentielle La Rvolution urbaine (les derniers ouv-
rages d'Henri Lefebvre)," Dialogue, 11, 3 (Sept. 1972), 403.

72
permits the revelation of "being." In this instance
imagination, chance, and the unforeseen are restored as an
opening toward the unlimited possibilities of man to act
upon himself and nature. Lefebvre means here especially
the interpretation of history as a cultural or political
(ideological) system.
The problem of "getting out" of history, or the domi
nant ideology's idea of history, and of inverting the con
stituted system should be dealt with by an urban revolution.
It is the urban section which will perhaps make it possible
for a new humanism to succeed the death of man achieved by
the industrial society and its bureaucratic society of con-
29
sumers. As defined by Lefebvre, the urban revolution
implies a reversing or transforming of all social structures
and relations in the society, and the destruction of power.
The urban revolution will destroy obstacles which reduce
differences to particularities and which mask the different
ways of living in an urban society.
In many respects Lefebvre's ideas coincide with those
of the new left. According to him the idea of liberal
pluralism focuses attention on particularities, not dif
ferences. In this way it reflects them as being unimportant
in relation to the homogenity, should such particularities
present a menace to the continuation of the order,
29
Vachet, pp. 414-18.

73
30
politics, and values of the established system. Thus the
idea of pluralism can take the form of repression and
imperialism. The principle of difference, however, is a
means of choosing resistance as an alternative. It intro
duces the unlimited aspect of what is possible and makes
possible the reversal of the established order. For this
reason differential thought, as opposed to pluralistic, is
naturally revolutionary.
Politically this means auto-gestion, beginning from
production, and the disappearance of the state. This
auto-gestion signifies that ultimately the urban revolution
and concrete democracy develop at the same time. It also
entails a radical critique of ideologies, specialized
sciences, and specialized politics.
To fill the gap between intellectual theory and social
. 31
praxis Lefebvre introduces the term transduction. Trans
duction means the elaboration of a theoretical object, a
possible object, from information about reality and the
problem posed by this reality. The result is an experimen
tal utopia, that is the exploration of the human possibility
with the aid of the imagination accompanied by an incessant
critique and continual reference to a given problem in
reality. Lefebvre believes in this way philosophy will be
30
31
Vachet,
Vachet,
p. 410.
p. 419.

74
able to regain its modernism and play an essential role in
an urban revolution which attempts to achieve the realiza
tion of man.
In the 1970s a group of young intellectuals known as
the nouveaux philosophes attacked Marxism as an obsolete
32
ideology that inevitably leads to totalitarianism. One
of the best known of the new philosophers is Bernard-Henri
Lvy, an editor at the Paris publishing house Grasset. He
attacks the promises of Marxism as being empty and the rev
olution as being a myth because the Soviet Union instead of
withering away grew into a reactionary machine. Andr
Glucksmann, another new philosopher, believes ideology
itself is inherently evil and that all the philosophical
systems of the 19th century are outdated because in the
modern world politics do not revolve around visions of
utopia, but rather around specific issues such as colonial
crimes, life in prisons, the drug problem, and the threat of
nuclear plants. Jean-Marie Benoit likewise believes politics
in the future will be more fluid, a world of small cells of
people coalescing on issues that affect them such as
problem-oriented groups related to women1s liberation and
human rights movements. The ideas of the new philosophers
appear to be a critical response to many ideas of the new
32
"The New Philosophers," Time, 12 Sept,
cols. 1-3; p. 30, cols. 1-3.
1977, p. 29,

75
left. As a result of the events of May 1968 they have a
more pessimistic view of the possibilities of political
action.
Right-wing thinkers also challenged the ideas of the
new left. The "new" right elitist philosophy of the 1970s
is a rejection of Rousseauist egalitarianism and the demo-
33
cratxc ideals that follow from it. New rightists look to
pagan and Indo-European cultures for alternative social
models. The philosopher Alain de Benoist, a founder of the
new rightist movement, believes that individuals and races
are divided by barriers of hereditary inequality. He there
fore calls for a "meritocratic" society in which the ablest
and most intelligent would rule. As a reaction to the
events of May 1968, Benoist and a number of rightists
organized a counterrevolutionary society called Research
and Study Group on European Civilization (GRECE). In 1974
GRECE member Yvan Blot, with fellow students at the Ecole
Nationale d'Administration, formed the Club de l'Horloge
(Clock Club), a lobby group that promotes such rightist
issues as racism, eugenics, and Nietzschean ethics. Blot
is a high-ranking official in the neo-Gaullist party, the
Rassemblement pour la Rpublique, The new rightist journal^
ist Louis Pauwels edits the weekend supplement to the
"A New Right raises its Voice; Science and Paganism
at the service of a Reactionary Doctrine," Time, 13 August
1979, p. 31, cols. 13.

76
Parisian daily Le Figaro. He appointed Benoist the maga
zine's culture editor. Obviously the cultural movement of
the new right is a form of political activism.

CHAPTER IV
POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ACTION IN FRANCE UNDER DE GAULLE
De Gaulle
The disintegration of civilian authority in Algiers was
the cause of the return of General de Gaulle to power in
France. By May 1958, after more than three years of fight
ing, the supporters of the Algerian war had lost their
majority in parliament. Pierre Pflimlin, the Christian Dem
ocrat nominated for the premiership, was known to oppose an
escalation of the war by an invasion of Tunisia and was
suspected of favoring an attempt to negotiate with the
nationals. In an effort to frighten parliament out of nom
inating Pflimlin, the Algiers settlers rioted, took over the
Government House with help from the army, and persuaded
General Massu to set up a Committee of Public Safety.
Thirty-six hours later, General Salan in Algeria launched a
public appeal to de Gaulle which received an immediate res
ponse. On 15 May 1958 de Gaulle announced his readiness to
take over the government authority.
On 24 May 1958 a small group of parachutists seized
Corsica for the Gaullists without encountering any resis
tance from the authorities or the population. After private
negotiations between Pflimlin and de Gaulle, the premier
77

78
resigned on May 28th. De Gaulle obtained temporary powers
from parliament to govern and legislate when on 1 June 1958
he was elected by a majority of a hundred, with the Commun
ists, half the Socialists, and others such as Pierre
Mends-France and Franqois Mittrrant in the minority. In
September 1958 a new constitution was approved which greatly
strengthened the president's power. The president in France
is elected by universal suffrage for seven years, he chooses
the prime minister, he alone can dissolve the national assem
bly and submit laws passed by the parliament to a referendum;
he has the right to pardon, to negotiate and ratify treaties,
to conclude military agreements which do not require parlia
mentary ratification, and in exceptional circumstances he
can assume all powers.
The terrorism of the OAS (Organisation de l1Arme :¡
Secrte began in Algiers in September 1958, and soon devel
oped into indiscriminate attacks on Moslems and a scorched-
earth policy. Terrorism spread to Paris with bomb attacks on
the homes and offices of Gaullists or left-wing supporters
of the FLN (Force de Libration Nationale). Frenchmen demon
strating against OAS terrorism and the Algerian war met with
police hostility. A turning point in public opinion occur
red when eight Communist demonstrators were killed by police
action at the Charonne subway station on 8 February 1962
during a demonstration against the OAS which had been organ
ized by labor unions, The obsequies of the victimes became
one of the largest left-wing demonstrations in Paris since

79
the Second World War, with 500,000 people marching to
protest against the war and the police. On 19 March 1962 an
agreement was signed with the FNL at Evian.
Having ended the Algerian war with the signing of the
Evian treaty in 1962, de Gaulle turned his attention to
international politics.^- He was able to initiate political
action because the October 1962 referendum changed the elec
tion of the president to universal suffrage, thereby strength
ening the president's position, and because as a result of
the 1962 parliamentary elections in November, a coherent
absolute majority to back Gaullist policies had been elected.
This situation permitted de Gaulle to begin his politique
de la grandeur in 1963. He opposed England's candidature
for the Common Market, believing the English would serve
American interests in Europe. He opposed the multilateral
nuclear force proposed by the Americans for Europe and,
instead, signed a Franco-German alliance and worked for
closer ties with the U.S.S.R. De Gaulle sought to gain
for France an important place in world politics as a peace
maker between the two superpowers; Gaullist foreign policy
worked to stimulate local nationalisms against the super
powers. For this reason de Gaulle sided with the Arabs in
the Middle East War of June 1967 and spoke out for a Qubec
libre in July 1967.
Pierre Viansson-Pont, Histoire de la Rpublique Gaul-
lienne (Paris: Fayard, 1971), pp. 75; 77.

80
Yet on the French domestic scene there was political
unrest the same year de Gaulle started his politique de la
grandeur. The year 1963 was marked by the miners' union
strike which became total. Railroad workers, electricians,
and gas employees observed work stoppages in solidarity.
The miners marched on Paris and the sympathy of the church
authority and other categories of workers caused the govern
ment to back down and grant employees of the SNCF (Socit
Nationale de Chemins de Fer) and the EDF (Electricit de
France) pay raises.
Political Parties and Groups in France 1958-1968
France in the 1960s was still a fairly nonegalitarian
society in which class divisions were rigid though often
2
taken for granted. More even than the family, the schools
and universities adhered to a formal, nonparticipatory
authority structure. The educational system remained a bar
rier to greater equality and social mobility. Consequently,
it is not surprising that the explosion of 1968 began in the
universities and spread rapidly to many high schools.
Furthermore, in the 1960s political parties were not
serving as an effective means for voicing opposition to
government policies. The political parties were deeply
Philip M. Williams and Martin Harrison, Politics and
Society in De Gaulle's Republic (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor
Books, 1973), pp. 23-27.

81
discredited by the failure of the Fourth Republic and under
3
de Gaulle even the Gaullist party had only a marginal role.
The lessening of the ideological conflict, however, and the
relative disaffection from the parties did not necessarily
constitute depoliticization. Several of the older parties
survived. Political interest seems to have been diverted
rather than diminished. Energies and ideas which before
might have found an outlet through political clubs or inter
est groups appeared outside the conventional political
organizations, the giant demonstrations in 1962 against ter
rorism of the OAS, the direct action by groups like farmers,
shopkeepers and craftsmen, and the manifestations and gen
eral strike of 1968 being examples.
The weak organization in political parties was also
found in the trade unions and was due in part to a fear of
4
central direction. The unions in France are divided
among five central organizations. Half the total member
ship is split between the CGC (Confdration gnrale des
cadres white collar and supervisory staffs1 union), the
socialist-leaning FO (Force-Ouvrire the trade union
federation, mainly in public sector, which split from CGT
in 1947), the CFDT (Confdration frangaise democratique du
travail trade union federation formed in 1964 from CFTC)
Williams and Harrison, p. 374.
4
Philip M. Williams, David Goldey, and Martin Harrison,
French Politicians and Elections 1951-1969 (Cambridge,
England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970), p. 288.

82
Catholic-leaning and the most militant of all the centrals,
and the CFTC (Confederation frangaise des travailleurs
chrtiens majority changed name to CFDT in 1964) which
remains Catholic and conservative. The other half is the
CGT (Confdration genrale du travail, largest trade union
federation Communist dominated since 1945). The CGT
retains its original confederate structure and part of its
anarcho-syndicalist tradition as do also the FO and CFDT.
This anarcho-syndicalist tradition is reflected in some of
Gatti's plays, particularly Auguste G. and Chant public.
Gatti at times rented a hall and read first versions of his
plays to CGT groups during the 1960s.
Of all the major Western Communist parties, the PCF
(Parti Communiste Frangais) suffered most from the problems
of destalinization which began after the Twentieth Communist
Congress in 1956. The tensions in the party between Italian
and Chinese alternatives were felt most acutely among
intellectuals and students of the Union des Etudiants Com-
munistes (UEC), which had also been penetrated by Trotsky-
ites. In order to destroy the base of the Italian faction
the party decided to disband the UEC; the largest faction
reformed under the leadership of Alain Krivine in the Trot-
skyite Jeunesse Communiste Rvolutionnaire (JCR). The party
in this way cut itself off from the students, as it had pre
viously alienated many intellectuals. Released from the
discipline of the party by the disbanding of the UEC, its
student members joined the JCR and FER (Fdration des

83
Etudiants Rvolutionnaires) another smaller Trotskyite
organization and various Maoist groups. The most important
of the latter was the Jeunesse Communiste Marxiste
Lniniste (JCML).
The history of European Maoism was relatively short
lived and ceased to have much meaning by 1974 when La Gauche
Proltarienne, a French Maoist group, dissolved itself.^
Its political significance disappeared with the failure of
the revolutionary movements in the late 1960s in France and
in Italy. When the split between Russia and China occur
red in the early 1960s almost all other Communist parties
split into a pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese faction. In Europe
the pro-Chinese factions left or were expelled and founded
new Communist movements. They showed their allegiance to
Mao's teaching by adopting the adjective Marxist-Leninist
to emphasize their continuity with the original revolution
ary politics of the party. The Sino-Soviet split occurred
because the Chinese refused to accept the Soviet doctrine of
peaceful coexistence. The Chinese viewed this doctrine as
a refusal to face the realities of revolutionary struggle.
They denounced it as a new form of imperialism, social impe
rialism, in which the Russians and Americans split the
world into spheres of influence that they controlled. The
stress on national independence from the superpowers went
together with support for the Third World against the
5
MacCabe, p. 55.

84
developed world whose forms of aid, both Western and Eastern,
were viewed as trapping the underdeveloped countries in
the position of client states. From this political position
it was theorized that the fundamental contradiction in the
contemporary world was not that between capital and prole
tariat but that between the developed and the underdeveloped
countries.
In the West, the stress on the importance of personal
life-styles in determining the revolutionary potential of a
party or country was the most important feature of Maoism.
In the Western countries communist militants could express
their distrust of bourgeois life-styles by setting upMarxist-
Leninist parties that would break with bourgeois forms at
every level of life. This stress on the daily struggle
between the bourgeois and proletarian line in one's life
subverted the form of the political and included within its
sphere every aspect of life. However, it also threatened
to reduce all aspects of life to the political which proved
to be the main weakness in Leninist politics.
Mao drew on two Leninist ideas, self-criticism and
cultural revolution.^ The key Maoist concept was cultural
revolution. This concept had been advanced by Lenin towards
the end of his life to cope with the problem that the polit
ical seizure of the state and the economic reorganization
6
MacCabe, p. 57.

85
of the means of production were not enough to abolish
classes or class struggle. Lenin attempted to deal with the
problem by talking of the necessity for a cultural revolution
which would take ideological power from the bourgeoisie.
This idea, however, was never fully developed by him.
In the 1960s the historical mission of the working
class to revolt in order to liberate all mankind by libera
ting itself was transferred to the proletarian countries of
Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The fixation on Cuba,
Algeria, North Vietnam or China found supporters among lef-
7
tist Cahtolics. The missionary tradition of the French
Church had sensitized it to the problem of decolonization
through its experience in Asia and Africa, and then to the
economic and social problems of the underdeveloped countries
in South America. Difficulties in some of the women's
orders and the revival of the worker priest movement testi
fied to this unrest. The Church like the PCF was finding
its moral authority questioned from the left by its own mem
bers. The rejection of capitalism on grounds of Catholic
social theory and interest in the Third World created support
for the new left and hostility toward U.S. actions in
Vietnam. Several Catholic student militants were among the
first to be arrested in May 1968.
7
Williams et al., p. 246.

86
Vietnam in the Third World provided the Trotskyite and
the Chinese factions with an argument against the official
Communists. It seemed to show that if the most powerful
nation in the world could be beaten by a small but determined
people, revolution elsewhere was possible. Vietnam also
provided the occasion for confrontation with the university
and the police, and sympathy and support from students which
the political factions would probably otherwise not have
had. For example, the Comits Viet-Nam de Base were set up
to collect a billion francs to buy a hospital ship for
North Vietnam. Catholics and PSU (Parti Socialiste Unifi -
left-wing socialist party) members actively participated in
various Vietnam solidarity committees which effectively
established a network of organization.
The campaign against the Vietnam war occurred in con
junction with the campaign against the new university campus
on the northwestern part of Paris at Nanterre. In May 1968
the spark which touched off the conflict was harsh police
action against a student demonstration. A few student revo
lutionaries from the Nanterre campus, including Cohn Bendit,
were being disciplined by the Rector of Paris University.
More students protested in the courtyard of the Sorbonne.
The police were called to expel them, thousands of students
gathered to demonstrate and many were arrested. Night
after night in May students and riot police fought each
other across barricades in the Latin Quarter. Thousands of
students were injured or arrested. Outside Paris, students

87
occupied universities and demanded greater autonomy for
universities from Parisian control, and greater student
participation. The unrest then spread to the workers. By
the third week in May over half the industrial labor force
was on strike and hundreds of factories were occupied by
the workers. After a long silence, de Gaulle's address to
the nation on May 24th called for a referendum in June on
reform of the universities and participation by workers
(co-gestion) in the economy. The public voted against it.
Workers had declared a general strike because they
shared some of the students' complaints against the system
and had grievances of their own. In 1967 the workers were
forced to accept an increase in social security contributions
to help pay for the farmers brought into it by a previous
extension of the system. These increases were imposed by
administrative decree without discussion in parliament.
The rapid modernization of the country had brought some
unemployment in certain sectors and workers suspected that
the Budget and the Plan had allowed for more unemployment
than necessary so that while holding down inflation and
reducing tariff barriers in the Common Market, de Gaulle
could accumulate gold and develop the H-Bomb. In the private
sector there was unemployment; in the public sector wages
were held down as part of the stabilization plan, the mini
mum wage varied from region to region and had lagged behind
the cost of living.

88
Malraux and Gaullist Cultural Policies
As students moved from trying to reform their univer
sities to attempting to revolutionize society, Andr Malraux
explained to a large Gaullist rally at the Porte de Versailles
on 21 June 1968 that the May events really represented a
crisis of Western civilization. The Gaullist campaign theme
was the defense of the Republic and the liberty of its citi
zens from anarchy and the Communist danger.
Earlier in 1968, Malraux had angered film directors
when his Ministry dismissed Henri Langlois, the founder of
the Cinematheque Frangaise. Pierre Barbia, immediately after
he was appointed to replace Langlois, fired the Cinmathque's
sixty employees. Within hours Godard, Truffaut, Resnais,
Marker, Bresson, and Renoir announced that because Langlois
was dismissed they would refuse to allow their films to be
shown at the Cinmathque. Paris producers, actors, and
directors held protest demonstrations which were violently
broken up by the police. They also picketed the cinema.
With criticism being voiced even among the government's sup
porters, Malraux could not justify the action of his Minis
try. Consequently he agreed to grant the Cinmathque
independence from state control on stringent financial
terms and to reinstate Langlois.
Andr Malraux was the key person in the state appara
tus in charge of cultural policy in the 1960s. In 1945
he had been asked to join de Gaulle's circle of supporters

89
to deal with the group's relations with intellectuals, pro-
g
jects for a political program for culture, and opinion polls.
On various occasions he stated his intention to make French*-
men aware of the important role he himself assigned to
culture. He wanted to oppose culture to what he described
as factories of dreams: theater, film, television, the press,
and a certain type of literature which he interpreted as
playing on the power of instincts such as sex, blood, and
death. Once having been appointed Minister of Cultural
Affairs by de Gaulle in 1959, Malraux presented his projects
to the Senate.
Under Malraux's direction important projects were
accomplished: the maisons de La culture, the protection
of historical sites, the installation of statues by Maillol
in the Tuileries, the cleaning of the facades of Parisian
monuments, the organization of huge expositions, and the
decentralization of theaters. At the same time Malraux was
actively involved in politics. In October 1962 he became
a patron of the Association pour la Cinquime Rpublique,
a movement which united various Gaullist groups. He defended
the diverse Gaullist positions which were taken successively
from 1959 to 1962. Until 1962 his speeches concentrated on
the problem of Algeria. After 962 he used his energy to
defend the government against opposition political parties
Janine Mossuz, Andr Malraux et le Gaullisme CParis:
Armand Colin, 1970), pp. 70, 167; 180; 193; 285,

90
and to build unity within the Gaullist organizations.
Furthermore, Malraux was one of* the principal authors of
the large Gaullist meetings for presidential and legislative
campaigns which took place in Paris on 15 December 1965,
21 January 1967, and 20 June 1968 and were known for their
spectacular effect and orchestration.
In the framework of the Gaullist party, Malraux inter
preted the mission of France to be the creation of a Eur-
africa which would equilibrate the strength of the two
superpowers. The role assigned to France was that of an
essential player on a global scale where the principal
actors were civilizations. Culture and particularly the
culture of France was viewed as a motivating force of
evolution. The role Malraux assigned to culture gradually
became more precise and was eventually formulated as the
great unifying myth which would make all the inhabitants of
the earth an immense fraternity. Gaullism gave him the
sufficient support necessary to present culture as the
great force of union which he believed had been hidden until
then by ideologies and religions.
Cultural Action
The political debate about the role of cultures and the
role of the intellectual continued throughout the 1960s.
Pierre Gaudibert in his Action culturelle: integration et/ou
subversion (1972) reviews the conflict between the animateurs
and the government administrators which arose as a result of

91
differing conceptions of the role of culture in society.
According to him, the purported progressive disappearance
of ideologies to be replaced by a new and scientific ration
alism was a new "ideology-mask-illusion11 permitting some to
devote themselves to purely technical problems and actions
beyond political and ideological options which, however,
9
remained the key to the system of cultural action.
Reactionary citizens in local government used the
notion of "need" in dogmatic arguments concerning the inter
ests of the populations, which they were supposed to repre
sent, to oppose the politics of a maison de la culture or
the choice of a director. In this way political and ideol
ogical opposition were hidden behind such euphemisms as the
possibility of reception of the local population, their
need for entertainment, the taste of the public. The
spontanistes, who were against those who did not respect the
free creation of subjects, entertained a similar illusion.
Cultural demagogy can either claim the cultural needs of
the masses, of the majority of the people (which generally
means the petty bourgeoisie), or the spontaneity of indivi
duals, the mechanism is the same because in both instances
a virginity of free subjects who have escaped conditioning
is assumed. Marxists and sociological critics worked to
demystify these beliefs in order to show that freedom is
Pierre Gaudibert, Action culturelie, integration
et/ou subversion (Paris: Casterman, 1972), pp. 17; 20-21; 27.

92
illusory and access to cultural places is regulated by real
inequalities which are themselves dependent upon the
4 relationship in a given social formation.
According to Gaudibert what actually happened in the
1960s is that one envisaged successively la democrat!sation
culturelle, le salut culturel, and la religion culturelle.
All these labels were divers idealist variants used to
mask a cultural action whose aim was to justify and reenforpe
the cultural practice of integration. During this period
the fundamental idea changed from a culture that issued from
the experience of the people and their values, to a culture
that was distributed to all. In 1945 the slogan had been
"rendre la culture au peuple et le peuple a la culture.
It had not been a question of proletarian culture or of
revolutionary proletarian culture, but of social progress
characterized by the Popular Front. The notion of le peuple
still designated the workers and the peasants as a united
people and nation. In the 1950s, the idea of cultural
diffusion was to raise the cultural level of the working
classes, efforts which were in agreement with the action of
the union and worker committees in enterprises. In a second
phase that began in the 1960s, the concepts of development
and cultural action became closely related. The concept of
the participation of all citizens in the existing cultural
values occurred, and active adherents in the teaching
10
Gaudibert, pp. 36-37.

93
profession pushed aside the notion of culture and people and
distanced themselves from the milieu of workers and peasants.
The notion of le peuple, however, conserved the idea of the
majority of people.
May 1968 permitted discrepancies about the notion of
culture to come to light when the ideological apparatus of
the family, school system, religion, politics, unions, and
information and cultural organizations in the society was
deeply shaken.^ Since 1968 the French Communist Party
avoids attempts to define a cultural power which would
escape the control of elected members of political or union
organizations. Since May, the directors of the Communist
Party often repeat it is up to the creators to create and
not to substitute politics for culture. They fear the con
siderable influence to their left which risks to bring a
radical conscience to the ideology of social groups under
the direction of the PCF. After May 1968 the Communist
Party's liberalism accepted all esthetic and formal research
except that with any sort of political expression. It
remained silent or reserved towards political theater and
films (Gatti, Benedetto, Godard).
The idea of cultural revolution dismayed both the
Gaullists and the Communists, since it emphasized the
ideologic functions of the class of such and such a culture,
11
Gaudibert, pp. 100-06.

94
and proposed a subversive culture that was able to radical
ize a part of the intellectual middle classes. Such action
risked to create a situation of rupture in the different
fractions of the middle and petty bourgeoisie, instead of
reassuring them of a national heritage and prestigious
cultural values. According to Gaudibert, the Gaullists
wanted to keep the established society and the Communists
wanted to inherit the national culture. By their policies
and actions it became clear that for both parties, culture
is actually a part of a political strategy that aims to win
the support of the middle class and neutralize it. The
class struggle, however, is evident in the field of culture
despite all the efforts to make culture an area of common
consensus.
Because of the conflicting political elements in
France: Gaullists, Communists, militant leftists, it is
easy to understand the contradictory situation of a cultural
animate'ur with a revolutionary project in the 1960's.
Gaudibert summarizes his position as follows:
II se heurte la bourgeoisie traditionnelle, se
trouve dans un position d*alibi pour la bourgeoisie
moderniste, devient suspect de gauchisme aux yeux
du P.C.F. et rencontre, l'hostilit des groupes
gauchistes en tant que complice des institutions
culturelles, integr au systeme "flic" de la
culture. 2
12
Gaudibert, p. 136

95
* At the end of the 1960s there was a strong trend to
integrate culture into daily life and diiy life into
culture. This trend weakened during the 1970s when politics
left the theater for the street. In the 1970s the utopia of
the new left began to be countered by the anti-Marxist new
philosophers, an elitist new right, and various forms of
terrorism.

CHAPTER V
POPULAR THEATER
Theater Decentralization
The socialist dream of a Theatre du Peuple, which had
existed since the French Revolution, had never been real
ized.^" The efforts of men like Romain Rolland had come to
little and the Thtre National Populaire, created by the
government for Firmin Germier in 1920, was unsuccessful from
the outset because of the conditions under which it was
expected to function. It was only in 1951, when Jean Vilar
was appointed director of the Theatre National Populaire
(TNP) by Jeanne Laurent, that a popular theater movement
established itself as a vital element in the French theater.
The success of the TNP consolidated a movement begun
as early as 1945 in the provinces by Jean Dast. Dast and
other producers founded permanent residential companies in
various cities, and later obtained the cooperation of muni
cipalities. Dast formed his group in Grenoble and then
migrated to Saint-tienne (1957) where the municipality was
Dorothy Knowles, "Introduction: Principles of Stag
ing ," in Forces in Modern French Drama: Studies in Varia
tions of the Permitted Lie, ed. John Fletcher (New York:
Frederick Ungar, 1972), pp. 11-32.
96

97
prepared to support his work. Shortly after this Toulouse
offered help to Maurice Sarrazin, who had founded the
Grenier de Toulouse there in 1945. In 1947 more substan
tial support was offered by the government, and various
theater groups were given the title of Centre Dramatique
and a subsidy. The establishment of Troupes Permanentes in
individual towns by the government together with local
authorities further stimulated the creation of more broadly-
based audiences. Roger Planchn's Thtre de la Cit in
Villeurbanne was the first to obtain this status in 1957.
The creation of numerous theater centers in the
working-class suburbs of Paris with municipal support began
in 1961. In these "peripheral theaters and the provincial
theaters many talented producers were active in Auber-
villiers Gabriel Garran, in Saint-Denis Jos Valverd, in
Sartrouville Patrice Chreau, and at Nanterre Pierre
Dbauche; in Lyon Marcel-Noel Marchal, in Strasbourg
Hubert Gignoux, and in Bourges Gabriel Monnet. In Paris
itself Guy Rtor was directing the Thtre de l'Est
Parisin (TEP), a sort of second TNP in a working-class
area. Much of the original work in production methods
since the war has been done in these new centers, and so
has most of the research in theater design.
It was for these theaters that a new repertory was
provided by Authur Adamov, Armand Gatti, Roger Planchn,
Gabriel Cousin, Michel Vinaver and Pierre Halet; foreign
playwrights such as Brecht, O'Casey, John Arden, Peter

98
Weiss, Max Frisch, and Friedrich Drrenmatt have frequently
been played there.
The two main needs of popular theater were subsidiza
tion and decentralization. Both of these ideals had strong
roots in the Resistance, since "subsidization" and "decen
tralization" were key words in the policies devised by
Resistance leaders for the complete postwar restructuring
2
of the French educational, political, and economic systems.
Plans for the new theater paralleled larger plans for a
new society, and these plans for the future actually repre
sented a continuation of the socialistic reform endorsed by
the Popular Front of the mid-1930s. The policy of subsidies
to the French theater and geographical decentralization
also paralleled a program of industrial subsidization after
the Second World War.
On 9 April 1959 Andr Malraux outlined at a press
conference his proposals for the reorganization and revi
talization of France's national theaters. On 24 July of
that year the Departments of Arts and Letters and of Archi
tecture, and the National Archives were transferred from
the Ministry of National Education to the new Ministry of
Cultural Affairs. At that time Malraux stated his desire
to make the works of humanity, and especially of France,
accessible to the largest number of Frenchmen.
Vera Lee, Quest for a Public: French Popular Theater
since 1945 (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1970), pp. 24-25.

99
One decade after the Cultural Minister's statement,
the French state had two National Popular Theaters (one
in Paris and one in Strasbourg); an impressive number of
decentralized dramatic centers (in Strasbourg, Saint-tienne,
Toulouse, Rennes, Marseille and Aix, Tourcoing, Villeurbanne,
Menilmontant, Carcassonne, Nice, Caen); permanent troupes,
and young itinerant companies. These new theaters, sup
ported by state and local subsidies, had large, enthusiastic
audiences. In the late 1950s and the 1960s there was an
increasing effort toward originality in these Centers.
Regional audiences were the first to see important produc
tions, premieres of new French plays, performances of
unknown foreign ones, or radically new interpretations of
familiar works.
By the spring of 1968 the following maisons de la
culture, cultural centers which did not necessarily have a
theater, were in operation: Le Havre, Caen, Bourges, TEP
in Paris, Nanterre, Amiens, Thonon, Firminy. Cultural
centers were under construction in Saint-tienne, Rennes,
Nevers, and Chaln. However, one year after May 1968, the
relatively healthy situation of popular theater had changed
drastically. By the summer of 1969 five important animateurs
were deprived of their theaters: Dast of Saint-tienne,
Monnet of Bourges, Trhard of Caen, Retor of the TEP, and
Jauneau of Thonon. Maurice Sarrazin's theater in Toulouse
had closed early; Jos Valverd in Saint-Denis was in
financial difficulties, Jacques Chreau left Sartrouville

100
because of debts, and Marcel-Noel Marchal was in severe
financial trouble in Lyon.
Inspired by the events of May and by criticism from
the new left, theater people called together by Roger
3
Planchn formed the Council of Villeurbanne (25 May 1968).
This group consisted of most of the cultural house direc
tors and popular theater animateurs. In what was a general
questioning of the purpose of the cultural houses and the
popular troupes, the council members issued a joint mani
festo. In it they stated the belief that in order to
reach the workers or "nonpublic" (FrancisJeanson's expres
sion) they should not simply be distributors of a bourgeois
heritage. Instead, they should be centers of an actively
creative culture in every field, especially in theater.
Moreover, their creativity was to have a greater social and
political basis. As the 1960s came to a close, the talk
was less of maisons de la culture than that of maIsons
eclatees or "splintered" houses. Rather than more buildings
of the "cathedral" type, the idea was to establish numerous
cells that could more easily penetrate masses of people.
There was also more emphasis on participatory projects:
studios, workshops, or other devices which would involve
the public more actively.
3
Lee, pp. 108-09.

101
Peripheral- Theater s
Most animateurs of popular theater in the 1960s, like
most French intellectuals, were motivated by their political
4
beliefs. In their eyes a truly popular repertory should
face people with current reality, provoking them to politi
cal action, rather than be entertainment concentrating on
acquainting the masses with France's dramatic heritage.
Therefore, a conflict between government administrators and
directors of dramatic centers and cultural houses was
destined to arise in the decentralization of the theater.
In an article published in 1969, Raymond Temkine
reviewed two books written just prior to May 1968, L'Etat
et le theatre by Jack Lang (today's Minister of Culture)
and Le Thtre hors les murs by Philippe Madral. Temkine
relates that Jack Lang thinks the state does not expect any
thing from the theater and that it does not have anything
5
to fear from the theater from the ideological point of view.
Nevertheless, since the state wants to consider the theater
as a public service functioning to legitimate the established
culture, Lang concludes:
Le developpement rneme du theatre par les autorits
tablie peut avoir une utilit politique: instituer
la paix sociale en faisant croire, au prix de
quelques concessions et de quelques subventions aux
^ Lee, pp. 122-23.
^ Raymond Temkine, "Le Thtre, service public?"
La 'Pense, 144 (Apr. 1969)), p.132

102
animateurs de thtre, leur libralisme politique.
Cette apparente gnrosit, loin d'tre une source
de menace pour la scurit du pouvoir, ne fait que
le renforcer.
The title of Philippe Madral's book, Le Thtre hors
les murs (The Theater Outside of: the Walls) refers to the
attitude of the Gaullist government toward theaters in the
suburbs of Paris. This attitude reflected a political atti
tude, since the state manifested an indifference toward
7
theaters promoted by Communist municipalities. Although
Guy Rtor, director of the TEP in the twentieth arrondis-
sement, received some subsidies in the 1960s, none of the
communes in the suburbs of Paris received financial aid
from the state to erect a theater. It was only in the late
1960s that Gabriel Garran, as an individual director,
received a subsidy, and Pierre Dbauche was promised a
maison de la culture.
Aspiring to form a conscious cultural policy, the
municipalities in Aubervilliers, Nanterre, Villejuif, Saint-
Denis, and Sartrouville took upon themselves the heavy
financial burden of supporting a theater. The directors of
these theaters were municipal employees or concessionaires,
an arrangement which gave them risks but also a certain
amount of freedom. Madral published intrviews with the
Temkine cites Lang, p. 133.
7
Philippe Madral, L Theatre hors les murs (Paris:
Seuil, 1969), pp. 21; 43.

103
directors of the "pheripheral" theaters in his Le Thtre
hors les murs. Most of the interviews were conducted before
May 1968, and the independent tone of the directors is
apparent.
In his interview with Madral, Guy Rtor, the director
of the Thtre de l'Est Parisin, stated:
A mon sens, une entreprise coitune le T.E.P. a
d'ailleurs le devoir de faire oeuvre de contestation.
Sans vouloir me ri'squer donner une df inition de la
culture; je pense qu'elle est avant tout une rflex-
ion permanente sur l'homme et la socit dans
laquelle il vit, une remise en questions constante
des ides reques. II nous appartient done de lutter
contre tout ce qui provoque les individus n'tre
qu'une foule irresponsable et inconsciente. Nous
avons choquer notre public, l'inquiter mme
afin qu'il conserve sa vigilance.*5
Retor, like Gatti and Brecht, wants a theater which
"divides" the public. Rather than just stage works of the
past, he thinks it is important to reveal new works and
authors that reflect our era and that treat the problems of
our society.
Influenced by the Berliner Ensemble, Brecht, Piscator,
the review Thtre Populaire, and Roger Planchn, Gabriel
Garran, the director of the Theatre de la Commune at Auber-
villiers, sought to respond to the concerns of the workers.
This was in 1962, the year during which the Charonne
8
Madral, p. 45.

104
9
xncident occurred. Garran found, however, that by limiting
the choice of plays the troupe was actually limiting their
public to an avant-garde engage. Consequently, he broad-
ended his program. In 1964 he produced Shakespeare's
Coriolanus and had Gatti read his play Chant public devant
deux chaises electriques to a group from an HLM (Habitation
loyer modre). His troupe produced such plays as Peter
Weiss 'si'Instruction, Gabriel Cousin's L'Opra Noir, and
Brecht's Les Visions de Simon Marchard.
Like Rtor, Garran believes popular theater supposes
a social practice. He also seeks to produce unpublished
works which have a direct meaning for our era. In the 1968
interview with Madral he states:
Nous avons cart l'ide d'tre une courroie de
transmission du "patrimoine" culturel, refus la
function digestive du theatre bourgeois et elle,
plus mystique et plus mystifiable, de communion
ou d'engouement autour de realisations qui ne
remettent rien en question. 0
Familiar with Brecht's theories, Garran and his generation
of directors learned to study the "fable" which a particu
lar work proposed. The staging of a play proceded in a
manner which implied the reading and commentary of the
Nine Communist workers were crushed to death in the
Charonne subway station in Paris as a result of police
action against a demonstration organized by labor groups to
protest OAS terrorism.
Madral, p. 40.

105
"fable." Documentation was gathered concerning the history,
customs, costumes, and civilization of the period of the
work being produced. Many directors in the 1960s and some
in the 1970s used this method of work in order to emphasize
the social and political relationships in the plays they
staged.
In the interview with Madral, Garran refers to the
actors working collectively at the Theatre de la Cit at
Villeurbanne and those working under the direction of Gatti
in the staging of his plays as a "spiritual family." Con
cerning the role of the "family" Garran states: "On pourrait
presque dire qu'elle a constitut une troupe fixe carac-
tre itinrant. Les transhumants du thtre populaire.
In his March 1968 interview with Madral, Pierre
Dbouche spoke like a militant and utopian, which is per
haps fitting for the director of the theater at Nanterre,
the campus where the original student protests began.
Dbouche mentioned workers creating a new culture and the
need for revolution when he said:
II ne s'agit pas tant pour nous, de faire accder
les gens la "culture", que de leur faire construir
une autre culture. Bien entendu, une telle ide
n'aurait rigoureusement aucun sens, si nos cts
des milliers de syndicalistes, d'enseignants et de
travailleurs ne militaient pas pour la mme chose.
C'est--dire la Rvolution. -*-2
11
Madral,
p. 57.
12
Madral,
p. 83.

106
Also sounding like a political activist, Jos Valverd,
director of the Theatre Grard-Philipe at Saint-Denis, said
in March 1968 that there was a battle being waged in the
theater by people like Planchn and Dort against the ten
dency of Artaud. He considered theater people who followed
the Artaud trend to be participating in the desire of the
bourgeoisie to draw the French intelligentsia towards irra
tionalism. ^
From the point of view of Marxist critique, Valverd
believed a theater production should not be judged in iso
lation from its historical context, but rather in relation
to the two opposing currents (Brecht and Artaud) and the
problems posed by the class struggle. He also believed the
majority of the society, including the working class,
actually lived ideologically on the representation of the
world as erected by bourgeois morals. According to him it
was significant that the majority of films with a large
popular success present an ideology which rendered as
natural and unquestionable social phenomena such as the
riches of some and the economic exploitation of others.
Among other works, Valverd's troupe staged Brecht's
Mere Courage (1966), Adamov's La Politique des restes
(1966), and Shakespeare's Romo et Juliette (May 1969).
13
Madral, p. 129.

107
When Jeanne Laurent appointed Jean Vilar the director
of the TNP she realized that a theater director would need
to have a certain amount of freedom to make decisions, if
the concept of popular theater were to succeed. The notion
of the director's relative freedom arose again in March
1968 at a national conference entitled "Planchn metteur en
scene et auteur contemporain" which was held at the cul
tural center at Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne. Planchn inter
vened in the discussions and demanded "le pouvoir pour les
crateurs." Opposed to the appointment of directors of
the maisons de la culture by the government, Planchn
believed such positions should be given to creators not
administrators. Concerning the choice of a repertory he
concluded:
II faut se persuader de cette ide, dans les
Maisons de la culture, le pourvoir doit tre remis
aux crateurs. Ce n'est ni un ministre, ni
un maire, ni un conseil d'administration de
dcider des pices jouer, car la loi de la
majorit n'est pas la loi de 1'art.
In reference to politics in the theater, the March-
May 1968 issue of Cit Panorama, published by the Theatre
de la Cit, presented a survey which listed plays staged
"Le Colloque de Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne 'Dans les
Maisons de la culture le pouvoir doit tre remis aux cra-
teurs' dclare Roger Planchn," Dernire Heure Lyonnaise,
10 March 1968, p. 8, cols. 1-3.
15
Roger Planchn, Dernire Heure Lyonnaise, 10 March
1968, p. 8, col. 1.

108
1 6
during the 1966-1967 theater season. Of 283 plays pro
duced in subsidized and well-known private theaters, only
twelve were listed under political theater. Other cate
gories were classic, vaudeville, dramatic comedies and
drama, social, thesis, poetic, satire and parodies, and new
theater. Under political plays two by Gatti were listed:
Chroniques d'une plante provisoire (Grenier de Toulouse)
and V comme Vietnam (Grenier de Toulouse also at the TEP),
as well as Brecht's La Mere (Grenier de Toulouse). Gabriel
Cousin's 1'Opra noir (Thtre de la Commune at Aubervilliers)
was listed under social plays as was also Arnold Wesker's
La Cuisine (Cirque de Montmartre). Planchn's Bleus,
blancs, rouges ou les libertins (Thtre de la Cit) was
listed under dramatic comedies and dramas. Jean-Louis
Mingalon, who collected the information for the survey, con
cluded that although the troupes of the decentralization
sought a "rpertoire de contestation, de critique, de prise
. 17
de conscience" their concrete results were rather timid.
Even if the productions of Shakespeare's plays were con
sidered to be political, the fact remained that in the
1966-1967 season little experimentation was being done in
this direction.
16
Jean-Louis Mingalon, "Une Saison en France,"
Cit Panorama, 14 (Mar.-May 1968), pp. 6-12.
17
Mingalon, p. 12.

109
In the February-March 1967 issue of the review
Partisans, entitled"Theatre et Politique," a similar con
clusion was drawn about politics and the theater in 1967
18
by Georges Dupres. He spoke of the selfcensorship
taking place in the theater where the personality of the
director, the definition of the public, the financial suc
cess, the political situation, the critics, and the struc
ture of the theater organization worked to reintegrate the
theater into the existing social modes. Duprs thought
what was happening in 1967 was not a vulgarization of the
theater, but a vulgar uniformity, delivering theater to the
public without giving spectators any choice, and putting
the same importance on everything which was presented on
the stage. What he called for instead was a critique of
reflection to investigate things, not simply to show
things. He also criticized the monopoly of the state on
information on radio and television, whose merit Duprs
characterized as being that of not contesting or opposing
the government.
Theater Activities During May 1968
During the manifestations of May people active in
popular theater supported the general strike. Meeting in
Georges Dupres, "Le Theatre malade de la culture,"
Partisans, 36 (Feb.-Mar. 1967), pp. 22-24; 27.

110
the TNP on 18 May 1968 activists voted to support the
Comit d'Action Revolutionnaire in the Odon. This
entailed supporting the action of the students and workers
in their fight against society and its structures, and the
occupation of the Odon as a means of questioning bourgeois
culture. They then organized committees which together
with worker and student committees discussed ways in which
those working in the theater could cooperate in changing
the society.
Armand Gatti, working with a group of theater activists,
tried to create spontaneous reactions in spectators in the
street Mouffetard by performing a montage of events that
had taken place during the Paris Commune. The performance
was interrupted and dispersed by police action. Gatti
received broken arms and other injuries. Under the direc
tion of Ariane Mnouchkine the Thtre du Soleil staged
Arnold Wesker's La Cuisine, which presented revolutionary
traits in everyday life, in factories. The actors and
workers at the Thtre Grard-Philipe in Saint-Denis went
on strike. The Thtre de la Commune at Aubervilliers
voiced its solidarity with students and workers. The
troupe mounted different productions in over fifty factor
ies. The director Gabriel Garran invited the Bread and
Puppet Theater to perform at Aubervilliers.
19
Werner Hildenbrand,
Frankreich," Theater -Heute,
"Theater und Revolution in
7 (July 1968), pp. 3-4.

Ill
Work committees were organized in different institu
tions and more or less revolutionary reform plans were
drawn up and discussed. In Villeurbanne, Roger Planchn
called together the directors of state-subsidized theaters
and cultural houses. Over thirty theater people gathered
to discuss reforms. Differences of opinion, however, made
it difficult to form a common view about issues. They did
agree that efforts were needed to bring the "nonpublic,"
particularly workers, to their theaters. This, of course,
was an admission of the fact that their theater productions
had not attracted the masses. In the Odon workers spoke,
often for the first time, before a large group of people.
Other theaters also became forums for discussion, although
they were not occupied.
The events of May made clearly visible the contra
dictions in the government-sponsored popular theater move
ment which were apparent even before May 1968. Judith
Miller, writing in 1977, confirmed that popular theater was
dead. Not only did the maisons de la culture eliminate
their inexpensive subscriptions, thus abandoning the policy
of attracting working and lower-middle-class audiences to
their theatrical productions, but they also began to place
more emphasis on sports, safely nonpolitical, than on
theater.^
Judith Graves Miller, Theater and Revolution in
France since 1968 (Lexington, Kentucky: French Forum, 1977),
pp. 137-39; 141.

112
The government's decreasing interest in the goals of
popular theater was linked to the politicization of the
popular theater movement. In 1972 the TNP moved from Paris
to Lyon where Roger Planchn's Thtre de la Cit was
transformed into the new Thtre National Populaire. In
the spring of 1973 Maurice Druon, the newly appointed Minis
ter of Culture, implied that theatrical subsidies would
be determined according to the content rather than the over
all quality of a troupe's work and that any project deemed
subversive would be rejected. He condemned bestiality,
perversion, sexuality, violence, vulgarity, anything which
countered the theatrical image of France as a source of
Western civilization. The "Druon affair" along with the
drastic cuts in funding (in March 1973 half of the members
of the Commission Consultative d'Aide aux Jeunes Animateurs
the committee which awards money to young theater groups
'resigned because of their frustration with the government's
hostility and indifference) proved the popular theater and
experimental theater would have to be done by unsubsidized
or marginally subsidized companies.

CHAPTER VI
ARMAND GATTI: FRENCH PLAYWRIGHT OF THE 1960s
Since 1969 French theater critics have tended to ignore
Armand Gatti's importance as a playwright for understanding
French political theater during the 1960s. Denis Bablet
in his pictorially exceptional book Les Rvolutions sc-
niques du XXe sicle (1975) documents influence of German
and Russian theater of the 1920s and 1930s on French theater
of the 1960s. The political aspects of the popular theater
movement, however, are reduced to generalizations when, for
example, he states:
Le thtre d'aujourd'hui ne rompt pas avec le pass,
mme s'il le conteste. II lui arrive plus souvent au
contraire de la prolonger, souvent de faire
entrer dans le concret ce qui n'tait quide entre-
vue ou rve utopique, et cela grce au progrs des
moyens techniques. On retrouve dans maints spec
tacles modernes 1'influence--ou simple prsence
implicitede principes chers aux renovateurs du
dbut de ce sicle.
Bablet does not discuss the spirit in which theater activists
initiated experimentation with new techniques in popular
theater. He indirectly mentions Gatti only once when he
Denis Bablet, Les Rvolutions scnique du XXe sicle
(Paris: Socit internationale d'art XXe sicle, 1975),
p. 286.
113

114
cites H. Monloup's stage design for Gatti's play Chant
public devant deux chaises electriques (Paris TNP, 1966) and
remarks that it "fait clater l'espace selon les volonts
2
de 1'auteur." Furthermore Bablet only devotes a few pages
to Brecht in his work.
Another striking example of avoiding a direct refer
ence to political theater in France is the series of works
written by the CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scien-
tifique) theater group under the direction of Jean Jacquot.
Beginning in 1966 these writers researched the relationship
between the ecriture dramatique (written text) and the mise
en scene (scenic presentation). After selecting a number
of principal stage productions since 1945, they gathered
documents on scenic presentations. The first two volumes
appeared in 1971 as Les Voies de la creation thtrale, I
and II. So far six volumes have appeared and not one of
them contains material on a play by Gatti. Just as Bablet
spoke of political events in Russia and Germany in the
1920s and 1930s rather than of those in France in the 1960s,
Jacquot1s group preferred to document political plays of
German and American playwrights in the 1960s rather than
those of French playwrights.
Simone Benmussa, while recognizing the important
trends documented by the series, describes the CNRS work
2
Bablet, Les Revolutions, p, 259.

115
as follows:
La somme de ces travaux permit d'laborer un thorie
de la mise en scne et des rapports scene-salle en
ce qui concerne la nouvelle architecture de l'espace
scnique et la participation des spectateurs. .
Pour qui suit le thtre d'un peu prs, ces tudes
n'apprennent rien qu'il ne sache dj car elles ne
reprsentent pas une reflexin critique mais elles
sont un maillon pour une histoire du thtre.
It is true that Bablet's book and the series by
Jacquot's group provide excellent source material for infor
mation on set designs and the scenic presentation of some
plays. Their works also document important trends in set
designs, in the role of the director, in theater techniques,
and in methods of production, which included in some cases
collective writing and the participation of spectators.
Nevertheless questions related to Gatti's political plays
in France in the 1960s need to be documented.
Those who have written about Gatti's plays since May
1968 are critics motivated by political commitment such as
Grard Gozlan and Jean-Louis Pays or students researching
4
a specific aspect of theater. Jiirgen Klein's dissertation
Simone Benmussa, "Le Thtre des metteurs en scne,"
Cahiers Renaud-Barrault, 74 (1972), p. 4
4
Gerard Gozlan and Jean-Louis Pays, Gatti Aujourd'hui
(Paris: Seuil, 1970) Peter-Jiirgen Klein, Theater fur den
Zuschauer Theater mit dem Zuschauer: Die Dramen Armand
Gattis ais Mittel zur Initierung humanen Verhaltens (Wies
baden: Athenaion, 1975). Margaret Ellen Ward, Peter Weiss,
Rolf Hochhuth, Armand Gatti: The Interaction between Intent,
Content, and Form in Contemporary Political Drama (Diss.
Indiana Univ., 1974). Annick Jourdan Duryce, Armand Gatti:

116
on the participation of the spectator in Gatti's plays,
Margaret Ellen Ward's dissertation on documentary theater,
and Annick Jourdan Duryce's dissertation on a new theater
for a new audience successfully establish the facts concern
ing Gatti's background and theatrical activities during the
1960s. Yet the relationship between his works and the
period in which they were produced has not been thoroughly
investigated. Since many French critics during the 1960s
regarded Gatti to be the French playwright the most likely
to create a new popular theater, their subsequent silence
about his plays after 1968 needs to be explained. Further
more the subjects of Gatti's plays, the structure of his
plays, and the techniques used to stage them are important
as indications of the changing trends in the political
movement in the French theater in the 1960s.
Armand Gatti was born in Monaco on 24 January 1924.
His father, who was a streetcleaner, died as a result of
injuries sustained during a strike. His mother, an
extremely religious woman, was a cleaning woman. His par
ents had immigrated to Monaco from Piedmont, Italy. At the
age of sixteen Gatti left Monaco to join the French Resis
tance in the region of Corrze. He was arrested and depor
ted to a work camp in Germany. After escaping from Germany
he went to London and enlisted as a parachutist with
un thtre nouveau pour un public nouveau (Diss.
Columbia, N.Y., 1971).

117
de Gaulle's forces. After the war he worked as a journalist
for the daily Le Parisin Libre and later on did reporting
for France-Soir, Paris-Match, L'Observateur, L'Express, and
Liberation. In 1954 he received the Prix Albert Londres
for a report entitled "Envoy spcial dans la cage aux
fauves." The same year he went to Guatemala during the
height of its revolution and traveled in Central America
and the United States. Two years later he went to Korea,
China and Siberia.
In 1958 Gatti published his first play Le Poisson noir,
which was awarded the Prix Fnon for literature. Jean
Vilar staged Gatti's Le Crapaud-Buffle in 1959. The ori
ginal subtitle of the play "Une Histoire de France pour
Adultes" was dropped during rehearsals when word reached
the troupe that the play was about to be banned. Gatti
makes free use of the factual material picked up during his
extensive travels in Central America as a journalist. In
the play the principal character Don Tiburcio is the dic
tator of a fictitious country. His works and acts are in
part borrowed from Trujillo, Armas of Guatemala, Martinez
of San Salvador and Somoza of Nicaragua. Don Tiburcio is
in close touch with the great figures of his country's
past and can at will become possessed of the spirit of a
defunct hero who might serve his political purpose.
Although the play did not receive favorable press
reviews from French critics, Gordon Merrick praised Gatti's
techniques and dismissed any parallels between the

118
character Don Tibureio and de Gaulle as being inconsequen
tial when he stated:
Gatti is no polemicist, but a poet who has passed
beyond the most advanced guard of the "new" theater
where character is subordinate to an intensely per
sonal search for identity and human reality, and
where a conventional concept of time and place has
no meaning at all. For an unproduced playwright,
Gatti has an astonishing command of theatrical short
hand. He has made of the mechanics of moving actors
around the stage and establishing a setting an extra
dramatic dimension, an active value, rather than a
deadening pause.5
Gatti's vision distinguished him from his avant-garde con
temporaries because it went beyond despair. Writing in
1960 Merrick thought Gatti would restore universal human
values to a theater that had become increasingly self-
absorbed in the hermetic.
Gatti's first success as a playwright came in 1962
when his play La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G.
was produced. Auguste G., which contains images of Gatti's
childhood and father, relates the existence of a man who
at the moment of his death tries to reconstruct and make
sense out of the events of his life. Roger Planchn
became interested in the play and included it in his pro
gram at the Thtre de la Cit at Villeurbanne in 1962.
At the same time Auguste G. was being produced at Villeur
banne, the Thtre des Clestins was rehearsing Gatti's
Gordon Merrick, "The Toad in the Ointment," The
New Republic, 142, 7 (Feb. 1960), 20.

119
play La Deuxime Existence du camp de Tatenberg in Lyon,
a theater in Marseille presented his Le Voyage du grand
Tchou, and the first volume of his theater was published in
West Germany.
After participating in the production of his play
Auguste G. in 1962, Gatti traveled to Cuba where he filmed
El Otro Cristobal (The other Christopher). During the year
of filming in Cuba he wrote the play Chant public devant
deux chaises lectriques. In Cuba during the Cuban Missile
Crisis, Gatti found the same kind of guerrilla fighter he
had known during the French Resistance and had met later in
Guatemala. Such men fought with the instruments of every
day life against an ennemy whose power seemed limitless.
He compared the American ships stationed off Cuba and
armed with nuclear missiles to the poorly armed Cubans
patrolling the shores.
After the experience of directing a film in Cuba,
Gatti returned to France to direct his play Chroniques
d'une planete provisoire at the Grenier de Toulouse. He
then directed a second play there, his Le Poisson noir.
Gatti was very active in the state dramatic centers where
he continued to rehearse, discuss, and read his plays to
audiences, and write and rewrite plays. In 1966 he
directed the production of his play Chant public at the TNP.
In 1967 the Grenier de Toulouse asked Gatti to direct
a new version of his play Chroniques d'une planete provi
soire During the rehearsals a union group (Collectif

120
Intersyndical Universitaire de l'Enseignement Suprieur et
la Recherche Scientifique) asked Gatti to write a play
about Vietnam. Gatti accepted and wrote in one month the
play V comme Vietnam. The Grenier de Toulouse proposed to
coproduce the play and replaced the scheduled Shakespearean
play La Nuit des Rois by Gatti1s play, which they presented
as "La Nuit des Rois de Shakespeare, interprte par les
comdiens du Grenier de Toulouse face aux vnements du
Sud-Est asiatique 'V comme Vietnam d'Armand Gatti," The
play ran for about one month at Toulouse. Then it toured
about fifty cities in France including Paris.
With the play V comme Vietnam Gatti for the first time
treated a then-current subject. During the same year he
carried on an experiment at the Thtre d'Est Parisin (TEP).
Spectators were asked to collaborate on a play by discussing
with Gatti their concerns and problems, and the kinds of
subjects they thought should be presented in plays. This
play, Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise was staged
at the TEP in 1968. Guy Rtor, who had initiated the
project, directed the play.
Gatti's four plays to be discussed: La Vie imaginaire
de l'boueur Auguste G., Chant public devant deux chaises
lectriques, V comme Vietnam, and Les Treize Soleils' de la
rue Saint-Blaise, can be divided into two periods: 1962-1966
and 1966-1968. The plays staged during the former
period emphasize the past and those of the latter period

121
place the action in a contemporary context. The two
periods also coincide with changes in the political situa
tion in relation to the theater in France.

CHAPTER VII
1962-1966: LA VIE IMAGINAIRE DE L1EBOUEUR AUGUSTE G. AND
CHANT PUBLIC DEVANT DEUX CHAISES ELECTRIQUES
La Vie imaginaire de l'eboueur Auguste G. was produced
for the first time by Roger Planchn's Theater de la Cit.
The work of Planchn's troupe coincided with Gatti's inter
est in a working-class audience, in new staging techniques,
and in new methods of production. Planchn's theater was
located in Villeurbanne, a working-class area outside Lyon.
Before putting on a play the actors, the director, the
scenic designer, all those connected with the production
would visit whatever aspect of society the play dealt with:
factories, homes, schools. They would then discuss what
they had learned from the visits. After the play had been
staged they would discuss it once more. Auguste G. was
staged on 16 February 1962. Claude Lochy composed the music;
Ren Allio designed the set; and Jacques Rosner directed
the play. Because of its successful staging, Gatti was
recognized for the first time as a promising French
dramatist.
The plot of Auguste G. is relatively simple. A street-
cleaner injured by the police during a strike lies dying on
a hospital bed. In his delirium he reconstructs the impor
tant events of his life in an effort to understand it.
122

123
After he dies the police dump his body in the gutter to
make it appear as though he died as a result of a drunken
brawl.
Although the plot is simple, the structure of the play
and the staging techniques used are necessarily complex to
communicate the confused mental effort of the protagonist.
Auguste G. is divided into four parts designated as I, II,
III, and IV. Out of the fragments of information given in
brief flashbacks, flashpresents and flashforwards, sometimes
contradictory, the audience is obliged to construct the
story of the life of Auguste G. After the opening scene in
which the police intervene to break up a stike at the sani
tation department, the forty-six-year-old Auguste lies
injured on a cot in a special infirmary where he is visible
throughout the rest of the play. His delirious comments
counterpoint the events of his life as staged by other
actors. These scenes of his life are enacted or narrated
by four other Augustes played by different actors: Auguste
at nine years old in the slums of Marseille; Auguste as a
soldier at twenty-one in the First World War; Auguste at
thirty married to Laurence and involved in labor struggles
which lead to his death; and Auguste in old-age happily
retired and living on a pension from the state. Through
Gatti's use of nonlinear theater the spectator experiences
or at least becomes aware of the complex life of a simple
streetcleaner.

124
Gatti's episodes and character relationships knit the
action together; however, the spectator must piece frag
ments of information together from different scenes. From
Auguste's imagined life the spectator learns that Pauline,
Auguste's first love, left the working-class district called
La Vierge after winning a marathon dance contest. Laurence,
Auguste's wife, has had a love affair with (or at least is
loved by) Gamache, the apolitical foreman of the street-
cleaners who got Auguste his job with the sanitation depart
ment. Other'important relationships for Auguste are his
friend Roger Estribot, who also loved Pauline; other workers
at the sanitation department, who show cruelty toward one
another as do the neighbors in La Vierge; and Auguste's son
Christian. In Auguste's delirium Christian represents a
successful film director who portrays him as a worker who
furthered the cause of the revolution. Also important are
the Black Baron and the White Baron because they provide
episodes which relate Auguste's private life to his work
situation. The Black Baron represents societal taboos
whereas the White Baron, who appears1 in episodes of Auguste's
later life, symbolizes the repressive boss. Thus, the
spectator follows Auguste's emotional life: his feelings
of guilt when he and Pauline were discovered by the local
madman, the Black Baron, as they began to discover each
other sexually in a field, his despair at Pauline's disap
pearance and death in a fire (the circumstances of which
are diversely described by his various selves), his

125
suspicions about his wife's relationship with Gamache, his
humiliation at using his thumb print to sign a new contract
won by the workers, and his hopes in his son whom he imag
ines will make a film about his life.'1'
Fantastic and realistic elements are intermingled in
the remembered or imagined occurrences of Auguste's inner
life. In the marathon dance episodes normal people dance
with animals (bear, horse), with objects (a wheelbarrow
with a flower pot in it, a machine), with persons of the
same sex, or with persons of the opposite sex who create
strange couples (a pimp and an innocent girl, a nun and an
irate father). The orchestra playing for the marathon dance
is composed of members of the CRS (Compagnie rpublicaine
de scurit) police force. This mixture of real events
(the marathon dance) and fantasy (animals and machines as
dance partners) permits Gatti to present in humorous, exag
gerated action a critical view of a repressive society
where the White Baron and CRS are in charge. The spectator
views the events on stage from a critical distance at the
same time as he experiences the inner life of Auguste.
This technique of distanciation is an important structural
element in all of Gatti's plays.
Another technique Gatti uses to create distanciation
is theatrical simultaneity which he explains in relation
Peter Gelbard, "Theater in Paris,
1 (Spring 1965), 66.
It
Drama Survey, 4,

126
to Auguste G. in the following way:
To add drama and depth to this life, I use theatrical
simultaneity. The stage then becomes a series of
phases in Auguste G.'s life. We see him at nine
years of age, at twenty, at thirty people emerge
from his past and his present. These people, con
stantly transformed, age-wise, fade in and out and
into one another on stage. Time and place are for
ever shifting throughout the drama.^
Furthermore, the playwright feels that Auguste G., because
of its structure, requires an entirely new concept of mise
en scene:
I say new because scenic or stage time is non
existent in my play. The usual theatrical time,
that is, clocktime, has been completely abolished.
The only time which exists in my play is flash time.
In other words, what audiences see are concrete
images: a series of flashes which last perhaps some
times but twelve seconds. This flash or simul
taneous time requires new structural theatrical
organization which differs from the one we know. We
call this type of theatrical conception non-linear
theater. ... In the theatre, these events and
scenes as I have conceived them must flow in rapid
succession so that the rhythmic effects created
by them are not lost and excitement is added to the
spectacle as a whole.3
Gatti frequently uses a simultaneous staging of events in
various space locations and at different time periods in
his plays.
Dorothy Knowles has traced the history of theatrical
experiments in simultaneity from the late 1920s to Gatti's
Knapp, p. 209.
Knapp, p. 210.

127
4
Auguste G. Attempts to enlarge the acting area by archi
tects, scenographers, and producers in many countries paral
leled attempts to enlarge the cinema screen in the late
1920s. The Polish scenographer Szymon Syrkus translated the
principle of simultaneity into practical terms by his crea
tion of a "simultaneous theater" in Zoliberg (1927) and then
in Warsaw (1932). In neither experiment was a particular
acting area or stage assigned to the actors; Syrkus believed
the theater was or should be a single space providing for
immediate contact between actor and audience.
In France, a model of a "spatial theater" inspired by
Syrkus's simultaneous theater was exhibited by Edouard
Autant-Lara in 1938 after a visit to Poland. In April- 1962
Yaacov Agam and the architect Claude Parent exhibited a
C
model of a "theatre scenes multiples en contrepoint."
Three months later Michel Parent tested the conception of
the theater embodied in this model by producing a play.
Parent's play Gilda Appelle Mae West presents the drama
enacted in the conscience of the American airman who dropped
the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The briefing for the raid on
Hiroshima parallels a briefing of gangsters, one of whom is
the expilot John. Moreover, these two sequences are played
simultaneously. Dramatic progression and suspense at least
Dorothy Knowles, "Michel Parent and Theatrical Exper
iments in Simultaneity," Theater Research, 11, 1 (1971), 26.
5
Knowles,"Michel Parent," p. 30.

128
as they are conventionally known are discarded as Parent
makes use of past-present-future counterpoint and synthesis.
He compared this procedure to that of Robbe-Grillet's film
Last Year in Marienbad in which a fusion of past and present,
of dreams, desires, and reality creates a purely mental time
and space.
Parent's play Gilda was produced a few months after
Auguste G. and the techniques Knowles mentions in relation
to Parent's play are similar to those present in Gatti's
Auguste G.: it is very composed; it proceeds by the juxta
position and superimposition of scenes lived at widely dif
ferent intervals; the idea of counterpoint, which is applied
both to the visual images and the dialogue. Speaking about
the overall effect of Parent's play Knowles states:
Through the presentation an effect of distance in the
manner of Brecht is established inviting reflection
on the hero's action and not identification with him,
though the presentation, in Brecht, is of course
successive, and not simultaneous as with Parent.
Parent claims that an even completer "distancing"
than Brecht's could be attained, seeing that Brecht's
"distancing" applies only to the theatrical event,
and not to the historical fact that is related to
the theatrical event.6
The techniques of simultaneity also distance the audi
ence from Auguste's life so that they may take a critical
view of the events presented: the poverty of workers in
La Vierge; the crass conditions and violence; the lack of
6
Knowles,"Michel Parent," p. 32.

129
unity among striking workers because of personal disagree
ments; and the police repression serving the interest of
big business. This "distancing" is increased by setting the
action in a working-class district between the First and
Second World Wars, by using episodes which are sometimes
contradictory and nonchronological, by including elements of
fantasy, and by exaggerating actions and characters.
In this nonlinear theater such motifs as fire, virginity,
and route 115, which leads away from poverty to the city
"like a dagger," are repeated in various forms and often
combined in the same scene. A government official comes
from town on route 115 to take part in a funeral procession
for fourty-eight victims of a fire which destroyed three-
fourths of La Vierge. Pauline, who is born during that fire,
later leaves on route 115 after winning the marathon dance
and losing her virginity to the White Baron who sponsored
the dance. During the First World War she dies during a
fire in a whorehouse. Her words are instructive;
Je suis ne de 1'incendie, Auguste mais ce n'est
pas pour cela que je suis partie. Le moment qui
vous a vu naitre, on le retrouve partout dans sa
vie. II met tout autour de vous un nombre croissant
de jalons, si bien qu'il finit par vous enfermer.
Si je suis partie c'est que j'en avais assez de
toute cette crasse. Je savais qu'au bout de la
dpartementale il y avait des bas fins, des chaus-
sures fourres et des hommes qui sentaient bon.
Je voulais tre au chaud.^
Armand Gatti, La Vie imaginaire de l'eboueur
Auguste G., in Thtre III (Paris: Seuil, 1962), p. 23. All

130
Gatti's technique of weaving together the different motifs
of fire, the virgin, the route, and the marathon dance inter
laces the action and permits him to jump from one idea to
another, as well as to contradict information given.
Pauline later adds: "Au fond, ce n'est pas vrai que je vou-
lais tre au chauds'il n'y avait pas eu le marathon danse,
je serais revenue" (p. 23). In the framework of Auguste's
delirium the spectator becomes accustomed to the presentation
of the action in a nonlinear mode. The fragments of infor
mation are either enacted or narrated by the characters. The
themes of love, sex, and the exploitation of workers are
interwoven effectively so the spectator sees how they are
interrelated in actual life.
Shamed by the scandal of Pauline's departure her
father Julian symbolically establishes his friend Victor
Estribot as his son-in-law by "giving" him Pauline who has
left. After Victor Estribot ends up hanging himself off
stage on electric wires Auguste G. States:
Deux mois (jour pour jour) aprs le dpart de
Pauline, Victor Estribot montait sur un pylne et
s'accrochait aux fils haute tension. II a fallu
quotations in the text are from this edition. The unusual
use of punctuation by Gatti is explained in the preface of
his Theatre III where he states: "un tiret marque une rup-
ture de pense; un changement de vitesse vers 1'extriorisa-
tion; un crochet marque un changement de vitesse vers 1*in
terior isation. C'est en quelque sorte une criture trois
tons ou les diffrentes hauteurs ne sont pas donnes une
fois pour toutes mais s'tablissent continuellement les
unes par rapport aux autres" (pp. 10-11).

131
la voiture des pompiers pour le dcrocher. C'tait
un samedi (Le quartier, cette nuit-l, n'a veill
qu'au vin rouge). Chacun disait que c'tait
cause de Pauline sauf Roger. II accusait la
Chamelle, sa belle-mre. Celle-ci [pendant ce temps]
crpait le chignon avec Fatime [Pauline's mother]
qu'elle traitait de maquerelle Un vrai carnaval, (p. 25)
The honor of a daughter and the honor of a father are exag
gerated here so that the spectator realizes how false some
bourgeois morals are in the actual situation of a worker in
the slums. Moral codes and a religion which resembles super
stition work to keep the workers ignorant and oppressed.
Gatti never states this directly. Instead he establishes a
correlation between the idea of Pauline' s father being unable
to protect his daughter's virginity and his honor against
the power of the White Baron, and the money spent by power
less men on alcohol and by oppressed women on fortunetellers.
The spectator who is distanced from the action by Gatti's
techniques perceives this correlation and can look at the
misery of these men and women and yet laugh because of the
humorous remarks of the characters and the fantastic,exag
gerated settings in which the action occurs. In short, a
casual contemptuous view of the events, as advocated by
Brecht, allows the spectator to form a critical view of
society.
To keep the spectator's attention, a constant theme is
often presented in a variety of ways. The theme of virgin
ity can serve as an example. The Black Baron surprised
Pauline and Auguste in a field when Auguste was nine years

132
old. This episode is first alluded to on page 27 of the
text. It is not until page 94 that a complete version of
what happened is related. Until that point the spectator
only knows that Auguste feels guilty about the incident and
that he is fearful of the Black Baron who states:
Vous tes tous victimes de la plus grand mysti
fication de l'histoire, une femme qui pour cacher
une crapuleuse grossesse s'est proclamee Vierge.
C'tait tenement norme qu la terre entire
l'a cru (Ne perdez pas confiance, les Ecritures- se
raliseront). (p. 27)
The Baron's statement demystifies religion, but it also
presents sexual relationships as evil and shameful.
The theme of sexual relationships is continually con
nected with the work situation in the play. The disagree
ment between Gamache and Auguste in their private lives con
cerning Laurence, Auguste's wife, parallels their differ
ent opinions about politics. Gamache supports the White
Baron and thinks Auguste should take better care of Laurence
by not getting involved in politics. The link between sex
ual repression, Auguste's guilt, and socio-political repres
sion is suggested concretely when the Black Baron is buried
in a coffin the very day that Auguste is employed by the
sanitation department. The White Baron seems to Auguste to
be the same as the Black Baron except that he looks a little
more prosperous.
Songs, as a Brechtian technique, also play a part in
the structure of Gatti's plays. For example, Angelina, an

133
older woman, sings a song that is later sung by Laurence.
The first singing raises the spectator's curiosity, but by
the second time it is sung the spectator understands it
better because other themes have been introduced. Laurence
sings:
Je ne suis qu'une moinelle,
brode sur un drap de marie
si le drap se dchire
pour preuve que la moinelle
peut voler, vous offiriras-je
son cri? Vous 1'offrirais-je? (p. 65)
Rather s.acL and puzzling the song connotes the idea of a
violent loss of virginity, a central theme of the play. It
also suggests the impossible love of Auguste and Pauline,
Auguste's feelings of guilt concerning what happened to
Pauline, and the sexual exploitation by the White Baron.
All of which is inferred later when Pauline and Roger, com
pletely drunk, finish the song after Pauline's father has
been dragged out of the marathon dance. Pauline and Roger
sing:
Et quand le cri s'teindra
Moi qui n'ai vcu que pour lui
Moi, voil. que je tomberai. (p. 66)
After this scene the White Baron takes Pauline away, Roger
Estribot is put in jail, and Auguste G., standing on his
bed, cries, "avec la rvolution, on balayera tout ga" (p. 67)
Thus the themes of virginity, sexual exploitation, the
exploitation of the workers, and revolution are interwoven.

134
Gatti uses interruptions in the play, such as Auguste
yelling from his bed, to keep the spectator from being dis
tracted by false sentiments. Interruptions are also used
as a part of the whole structure of the play to call atten
tion to the text of the play to illustrate that theater is
not real life. Unconvinced by Auguste's rhetoric about the
revolution, Christian as a film director cries, "stop" (p. 67).
Auguste G. falls back down on his bed as Christian states:
"Cette revolution ne vaut rien Personne n'y croira" (p. 67).
This interruption serves to break the illusion of the play
and to point toward the fact that like a film a play is a
constructed text put together from a certain point of view.
While Christian describes the action, the actors follow his
indications as though he were directing them in a film.
Throughout the play the theme of the revolution and the role
of the intellectual are presented in relation to Christian's
production of a film.
The role of the intellectual is introduced as a theme
when the White Baron states:
(La revolution vue par les artistes.')
Ces gens-l sont aussi ncessaires qu'une soupape.
II faut les entretenir... Les monteurs d'illusions
aident la vidange du plus grand nombre. Je les en
remercie, mais qu'ils n'outrepassent point leurs
fonctions. (p. 69)
The White Baron bans Christian's film and sends him to
prison. While Christian is in prison, the White Baron asks
him to sign a contract and tells him that leftist

135
intellectuals are actually in the service of the state and
that the dominant bourgeois society's injustice towards the
poor is an unconscious reflex for judges who come from the
bourgeois class.
To vary the action, speed up the tempo, and add to the
complexity of the play Gatti utilizes group movements of
group choruses. In Part III when the funeral of Auguste's
young wife is related, all the Augustes speak in chorus:
"Ce matin-la, le courage me manqua/ Je regardais autour de
moi sans comprendre/ Laurence tait morte ving-neuf ans."
(p. 82). Other characters besides the Augustes also res
pond simultaneously during this sequence. Changing the
groupings of characters on stage often intensifies the
visual presentation.
The set designs in Auguste G. are an intrinsic part of
the text. In Part IV characters appear in a large "empty"
screen. Like a giant roll of film it is indented along
the side and separated into frames. This setting once
again distances the action from the spectator. In addition
it recalls the theme of the revolution in Christian's film.
The film version presents a contrast with Auguste's actual
death. A large armed hand appears in one of the frames
and a shot is heard. The Black Baron falls down, as if
dead, and then the White Baron falls down. The film stops
as alarms and sirens create a "noise" interruption in the
play. Then Auguste states:

136
(Je serais bien incapable d'aller quelque part.)
La dpartementale 115, ce n'est plus pour moi.
Ces routes-l, c'est bon quand on est enfant.
Lorsqu'on devient balayeur, il n'en reste plus
beaucoup. Alors, on invente des histoires vieilles
crame le monde (Laurence...Pauline) je m'en suis
tellement raconte l-dessus que je ne sais plus
tres bien ce qu'elles ont t (Les femmes, c'est
en dormant qu'on en a le plus). Chris? (tu
seras quelqu'un toi pas crame moi) Lorsque plus
tard tu feras des films, je sais que tu ne m'oubli-
eras pas. Tu me feras mourir dans la revolution,
n'est-ce pas, Chris? Avec un bel enterrement et
des drapeaux rouges et tous les camarades de
1'Assainissement qui m'accompagneront jusqu' la
dpartementale 115, Dis, Chris? tu n'oublieras
pas? Jusqu' la dpartementale 115... (p. 106)
Instead of the Barons being shot or Auguste being considered
as a revolutionary hero, Auguste's body is unceremoniously
dumped in the gutter by the police. Empty "frames" keep
moving on the giant stage screen to indicate the true story
of Auguste's death will not be told.
In general critics favorably reviewed the play and the
staging techniques. Bernard Poirot-Delpech stated:
Le flou apport par Gatti la peinture d'Auguste
tait indispensable pour la rendre ressemblant en
profondeur. Du dsordre des visions et de la
folie des mots nait peu peu 1'impression verti-
gineuse de partager la ralit apparemment simple
mais finalement incommunicable qu'est la songerie
d'un boueur rvolutionnaire mourant de coups de
crosse il y a trente ans et se demandant
pourquoi.8
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, "'La Vie imaginaire de
1'boueur Auguste Geai' d'Armand Gatti," in Au soir le soir:
Thter 1960-1970 (Paris: Mercure de France, 1969), p. 133.

137
Jacques Lacarrire said the blending of past, present,
and future was necessary since a man when dying reviews his
life as imaginary events mixed with real ones rather than
9
as a chronological film. Peter Gelbard very enthusias
tically praised Gatti's techniques by stating:
Energy and emotion, restlessness, singlemindedness,
an absolute command of technique are used to serve
an idea, and not to fiddle with the form for form's
sake. Gatti will be France's answer to
Brecht. 0
According to Jean Wagner, Gatti's techniques attacked
the structures of the theater.^ By multiplying the playing
areas on the stage, the stage became a factor of creation
as it became the support for the joint imagination of the
author and the spectator. Besides the time and place of
the stage, Gatti further multiplied the number of areas
available by the addition of cinema screens which also sup
port the idea of the real, the memory, or the dream.
Wagner believes Gatti's use of screens differs from that of
Brecht, who used them as a means of comment, and that of
Piscator, who used them to enlarge the action to historical
dimensions. Moreover, Wagner believes the esthetic intent
Jacques Lacarrire, "'La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur
Auguste Geai' d'Armand Gatti m.e.s. Jacques Rosner, avec le
Thtre de la Cit," Thtre Populaire, 54 (1964), p. 89.
*"0 Gelbard, p. 70.
Jean Wagner, "Notes sur le thtre d'Armand Gatti,"
Nouvelle Critique, 175 (1966), p. 43.

138
of each of Gatti's plays is to explode the traditional
structures of the theater in order to reveal a universe
where the class struggle is the motor of all actions. As
Wagner states:
Or la dynamique, le moteur mme de 1'action est
directement lie la situation sociale du hros:
le monde de Gatti est, en effet, un monde essentie.l-
lement gouvern par la lutte des classes. La psycho-
logie n'entre pour aucune part dans le comportement
des hros: le passe qui revit dans chacun de leurs
gestes est un pass d'homme socialement situ, le
prsent est la fois la somme de toutes les humilia
tions et de toutes les conqutes, le future, une
fidlite au pass. Les ides qui animent les per-
sonnages sont celles d'hommes de classes tres
prcises. ^
The theme of class struggle is also evident in Gatti's
play Chant public devant deux chaises lectrigues per
formed at the TNP in 1966. In addition to the obviously
political subject matter the Sacco-Vanzetti case
Gatti again uses structural techniques to draw attention to
socio-political conditions. By breaking up the elements of
time and space, Gatti questions the notion of theater
representation and forces the spectator to actively parti
cipate in contributing to the creation of the play. As has
been pointed out in the discussion of Auguste G., Gatti
uses the idea of a film being made to interrupt the play in
in order to call attention to the spectacle, and to dis
sipate its cohesive illusion. In Chant publique the actual
12
Wagner, p. 48.

139
play about Sacco and Vanzetti does not even exist on stage.
Instead, five groups of spectators in Boston, Hamburg)
Turin, Lyon, and New Orleans relive the long death wait
of Nicole Sacco and Bartholomew Vanzetti, two anarchists
accused of murder.^
The playwright concentrates on the importance of the
role of the "supposed" spectators. For it is their reac
tions on stage which are the subject of the play. Through
their comments about the nonexistent play, these supposed
spectators express opinions which reflect their social
backgrounds. Being spectators, they are to some degree the
doubles of those in the actual audience. Therefore,
through the reactions of the supposed spectators, the real
spectators realize it is their own social, economic, and
political circumstances which dictate their own reactions.
In this way Gatti directs attention toward the social and
political conditions in the actual lives of the audience.
The framework of Chant public includes activities
associated with a theater such as getting tickets, inter
mission, and actors preparing to go on stage. By jumping
from one supposed theater audience to another Gatti creates
a more complex play. Each city presents spectators in
different political situations.
13
After seven years in prison they were executed m
1927 at Charlestown, Massachusetts.

140
For example in Hamburg, Vorortzug states: "Cette
histoire d'anarchistes italiens condamns et attendant pen-
14
dant sept ans leur mise h mort, me terrorise." Informa
tion about the Sacco-Vanzetti case is given in relation to
Vorortzug's personal life. He wants to see the play and
yet is terrified by the execution of the two innocent anar
chists because his own son is in jail for political activi
ties. Vorortzug's lawyer Muller, who has accompanied him
to the play, provides a link between past history and the
present events. Muller sees a parallel between the injus
tice of the Sacco and Vanzetti case and the injustice of
the Nuremburg trials. According to him the Nazis, like
Sacco and Vanzetti, wanted to change society and were
wrongly condemned. Muller states: "Qu'est-ce que 1'affaire
Sacco-Vanzetti? De fausse accusations lances pour obtenir
la mort de gens qui voulaient bouleverser le monde'
Ctait dj un avant-got du procs Nuremberg. [Une repe
tition gnrale parmi tant d'autres]" (p. 27). Gatti uses
such a character to illustrate the problem of conflicting
attitudes in present-day society. Muller's attitude demon
strates how individual reactions to a play differ. The
spectator in the actual audience perceives that either the
Right or the Left can distort an event to make it reflect
Armand Gatti, Chant public devant deux chaises
electriques (Paris: Seuil, 1964), p. 24. All quotations in
the text are from this edition.

141
their own particular political views, however exaggerated
those views may be.
In Turin, Italy, the supposed spectators are more
directly political; they include an anarchist, a union
leader, and a journalist. The journalist Boschetto says
to the anarchist Venturelli: "Vous ne reprsentez plus
qu'une survivance [un parti croupion] I'anarchie est morte
avec la guerre d'Espagne" (p. 28). To this Venturelli
replies:
N'ayez crainte *> la simple existence de gens comme
vous l'obligera toujours h. se teir en vie. Vous
connaissez 1'affaire des pendus de Chicago? Celle
qui a donn naissance la fte du Premier Mai?
Dans le monde entier [malgr vos actes de dcs] on
clbre cette fteMme si des gens comme vous
font semblant d'ignorer qui elle est dueavons-
nous un seul jour (dans notre manire de vivre ou
de penser) cess de tmoigner pour ou contre les
anarchistes de Chicago, et les ides pour lesquelles
ils ont t pendus? (p. 29)
In Chant public, the hanging of the five anarchists in
Chicago is referred to several times as is also the execu
tion of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. These references in
various forms knit the play together as they point toward
a common history of injustices in the past to which the
spectator can add present-day examples. By setting the
play in the past, however, Gatti creates a distance which
allows the spectator to take a critical view of injustice
in society. In the play it is the supposed spectators
who execute Sacco and Vanzetti. They, like the real
audience, are the ones who allow it to happen and do

142
nothing to stop it. Gatti's aim is to point up injustices
so that each member of the audience in his or her own daily
life will take action against such injustices.
In Lyon Gatti has actors, acting as actors, incarnate
the characters Webster Thayer the judge, Fuller the gover
nor, and Stewart the police Commissioner, since spectators
would not identify with those who directly caused the
deaths of the innocent anarchists.^ During the supposed
intermission on stage Derlinski, the theater director in
Lyon, plays a recording of the song Chant sur la Colline
aux Cerises. Supposedly, Sacco sang this song as a greet
ing when Vanzetti was brought to death row in the Charles
town prison. Since they were not allowed to see or talk
to each other, Vanzetti understood Sacco's greeting and
joined in the singing.
Other props like the recording of the song are impor
tant in this play. In the beginning of the second half of
the play huge portraits of Sacco and Vanzetti are lowered
from the flies to represent the symbolic presence of the
two anarchists. At the end of the play, two large por
traits of Sacco and Vanzetti are again lowered from the
flies. Then a recorded voice representing Vanzetti states
his last words before being executed: "Notre condamnation
est devenue notre carriere. Elle sera notre russite.
15
Gatti, Chant public, preface, p. 15,

143
Nous n'aurions jamais pu accomplir en faveur de la
tolerance, de la justice, de la comprehension entre les
hommes, ce que nous avons pu faire du fond de ce couloir"
(p. 171). A huge prop is also used to represent President
Coolidge; only his striped pants are visible. In one
episode Judge Thayer's voice is a taped response to the
pleas of Vanzetti's sister who requests clemency for her
brother. The device contrasts the human emotions of
Vanzetti's sister with the cold attitude of the judge who
states he is acting to save civilization. Gatti thus uses
the same device, a mechanical recording or a huge prop
representing a person, to communicate different types of
information and to create different kinds of reactions in
real spectators.
A particularly striking prop is used to criticize big
business. A soldier agonizing on a cross is lowered from
the flies. A neon sign then introduces the theme of big
business by flashing "OFFERT PAR L'AMERICAN FUNERAIRIA CO."
followed by "EMBAUMER EST UN DEVOIR NATIONAL" (p. 51).
These phrases in the style of modern advertising fade out
as the soldier reappears. In fact, Gatti's elaborate
stage directions in the text illustrate the skill with
which he visualizes a scene. These visual images are at
times even more important than the text. Perhaps this is
natural since Gatti has directed films and uses some film
techniques in his theater such as fading and jumping from
one location to another. During the soldier episode,

144
the anarchist Venturelli, acting as a reporter, interviews
the unknown soldier, a marine who has served for several
years in Mexico, Haiti, and Cuba. The soldier states he sup
ports the National City Bank, the Interest Banking House,
and the United Fruit Company. The soldier uses the slogan,
"bon pour le business, bon pour le pays" (p. 54) to explain
the reason for military intervention in Nicaragua, the Domin
ican Republic, and Honduras. The style of commercials and
publicity in this episode contrasts with the figure of the
soldier agonizing on the cross in mid-air, and it is obvious
that Gatti is criticizing American military intervention on
behalf of business interests.
In addition, in another episode Gatti associates the
civil ceremony of laying flowers at the grave of the
unknown soldier with the beginning of "la semaine de rire,"
the period of white terror in the 1920s during which a
repression of labor groups by soldiers and police forces
occurred in the United States. This ceremony in the tone
of advertising acts as a counterpoint to the serious and
sad parades of the workers1 unions on May 1st to commemorate
the deaths of union workers.
In Chant public Gatti uses the theater setting in Lyon
to develop the theme of the participation of the spectator.
He uses the term selmaires to identify parallel creations
to a given reality, in this instance the play. In fact the
technique is simply an extension of Gatti's practice of
including the spectator's point of view in his plays. The

145
theater director Derlinski states: "Stop. > Excusez ce
court arrt. Nous allons vous demander comment, h partir
de 1A, chacun de vous voit la suite de la pifeceVous,
monsieur" (p. 48). The worker-spectator Vastadour responds
"Moi?Je mettrais 1'accent sur Sacco et Vanzetti, savoir
quels taient leurs paroles, leurs gestes, leur fagon de
vivre En un mot je voudrais faire leur connaissance"
(p. 48). Consequently, the second part of the play does
show the personal lives of Sacco and Vanzetti, but only
through the "supposed" spectators viewing the action who
"imagine" Sacco and Vanzetti's last hours and who actually
incarnate those taking part in the events. Gatti describes
this action of selmaires in the preface to his play in
the following way:
Dans ce "Chant public", il signifie une cration
parallle que fait le spectateur suppose, en cor
respondence avec le spectacle qu'il est en train de
voir (ici celui de la scene imaginaire). Souvent
le spectateur invente, traduit, ou rinvente ce
qu'il voit: cette invention, traduction ou rinven-
tion est un Selmaire. (preface, p. 15)
A general selmaire occurs, for example, when the "supposed"
spectators who sympathize with Sacco (Boschetto, Cervi,
Venturelli, Ehrman-Klose, Derlinski, and Farley) and
Vanzetti (Kurlanski, Bonnetade, Little Ned, Coleone,
Vastadour, and Anne) stand and sing the "Ballade de 1'Inter
national Working World [sic]" together.
The first stanza tells about Tom Mooney who organized
the strikes of tramway workers. He was not convicted

146
and sent to jail because false witnesses who were not paid
enough recanted. After some dialogue which permits the
spectator to grasp more easily the significance of the
words of the ballade, the second stanza relates another
example of workers who tried to strike. Because this
stanza is sung by the "supposed" spectators who identify
with Sacco and Vanzetti, it serves to connect the specta
tors fate with that of past examples of men trying to
obtain better working conditions. They sing:
Etranges fruits pendus/aux arbres de 1'Ohio/
fouetts jusqu'au sang/et qui se plaignent/
et qui expirent/ Etranges fruits/pendus par
grappes/aux arbres de Tulsa/ Kasprovitz hirsute/
Clean les yeux en sang/ Diaz la machoire fendue/
Fitz avec un regard/de bte aux abois/ Miller
recroquevill/ dans un sourirq/ qui ne trouve
plus/ abri en ce monde/ Etranges fruits/ les
ouvriers du ptrole/ pendus par grappes/ aux
arbres de Tulsa, (pp. 76-77)
The song sung by a group permits Gatti to relate gory
details which allow the spectator to acknowledge suffering
without becoming emotionally involved in it. Such examples
also add to the significance of the execution of Sacco and
Vanzetti because they build up a complex web of similar
examples.
In the play three "supposed" spectators assume the
identities of the characters on the imaginary stage: Cervi,
a worker at the Fiat plant in Turin, becomes Sacco;
Vastadour, a worker and theater spectator in Lyon, becomes
Vanzetti; and Vorortzug, whose son is in jail for political

147
reasons in Hamburg, becomes Madeiros. Madeiros was the
young robber who told the police it was the Morelle brothers
who killed the cashiers Sacco and Vanzetti were accused of
murdering. The authorities did not accept his testimony
and executed him along with Sacco and Vanzetti.
In Auguste G. Gatti depicts the cruelty and violence
in a working-class district, in Chant public he shows the
dignity and heroism of workers. Vastadour-Vanzetti states:
J'ai beaucoup parl de moi, et j'en ai presque
oubli Sacco. Lui aussi est un ouvrier qui a tout
sacrifi la cause; son argent, ses ambitions, sa
femme, ses enfants, sa vie. [Ni lui, ni moi],
n'avons jamais mange, de notre enfance a ce jour,
un morceau de pain que la sueur de notre front
n'ait gagnjamais, (p. 132)
Motivated by his personal experience of being raised in a
slum, Gatti has become informed about anarchists, union
movements, revolutionary movements, and historical periods
related to such actions. Also because of his background,
Gatti was not conditioned by the traditional French culture
other playwrights of the 1960s experienced, and thus he
brings a different point of view to the theater. Similari
ties do exist, however, between Gatti and Jean Genet.
Because of their personal experiences (Genet spent many
years in jail as a criminal), they view society from the
outside, and both playwrights are critical of the French
society in which they function. Genet's plays deal indi
rectly with the themes of culture (Les Ngres) in conflict
with images of oneself, and the class struggle

148
(Les Paravents), and revolution (Le Balcn). Genet pre
sents a particular view of the mechanism of appearances in
society. Moreover, his anarchistic Said in Les Paravents
illustrates that he, to some degree, sides with the
underdog.
In Chant public Gatti portrays simple, uneducated
workers as heros. His plays represent an attempt to open
up a new way of looking at French society in order to
recognize that different points of view exist, and to pro
vide a critical view of the ideas imposed by a dominant
class whose values (for example, justice) are often contra
dicted by the real social, political and economic situation.
Gatti's rewriting of history to show a different viewpoint
is evidence of the general trend toward recognizing a
pluralistic society which occurred during the 1960s and
which still continues today. It may be validly argued
that Gatti is not objective, but this argument is merely
a recognition of the fact that it is impossible to be
objective in our era. Someone is always interpreting facts
and history is always being written by someone with a par
ticular perspective. Moreover, to view problems properly
and to try and solve them, the first step is to acknow
ledge that different points of view do exist.
In Auguste G. workers find it difficult to take a
unified action because of different opinions and personal
considerations. While Sacco, Vanzetti and Madeiros are
on death row, Gatti expands the structure of the play to

149
include actions which are taking place outside the prison
to try and save their lives. Reports are made from dif
ferent parts of the United States. Kurlanski, as a union
metallurgist, relates:
Les hommes. capables de dclencher un mouvemerit gn-
ral se sont vendus au patronat. Les syndicats sus
ceptibles de prendre la direction d'une grve gn-
rale ont t crass, liquids dans le sang.
Souviens-toi de Chicago, (p. 138)
Little Ned, a black reporting from a miners' union in Colo
rado, states: "L'crasement et la faim. Vous n'avez qu'A
lire les journaux. Nous n'avons que deux issues ou
fermer notre gueule, ou tre des espions russes" (p. 140).
In this episode Gatti blames the unions for permitting
their members to be assassinated. Union members who take
no action are as guilty as the judges and religious hypo
crites who do the "dirty" work for those in power are as
bad or worse than those they serve. In an interview Gatti
expresses this opinion in relation to the Second World War:
After the Liberation of Paris someone said to me:
"There are people who were put in prison unjustly~
who did nothing.?'! I say, those are the people who
should go to jail those who did nothing to remedy
the situation. The person who tried to please
both hangman and victim is the biggest coward of
all. Worse than the SS men were.l
In the play Gatti suggests the real spectators are respon
sible for causing the deaths of Sacco and Vanzetti.
16
Knapp, p. 278.

150
Vastadour-Vanzetti says to the Presse-Coiranutateur who
places the electrodes on his legs:
S'il y avait un Dieu, il ne pourrait avoir piti
des eunuques qui se font les larbins de la mort.
Mon seal dsir, c'etait de mourir debout au milieu
de mes semblableset voil quoi j'ai droit [&
des tres tels que vous]. Le pire, c'est qu'
toutes les poques vous aurez vos pareils Que vos
mains ignobles ne me touchent plus [elles sont cou-
vertes de la crasse des matres que vous servez].
(p. 164)
During the trial scenes earlier in the play the Presse-
Commutteur(a man) and the Officiante de la Mort (a woman)
speak from their seats in the real audience with a pro
jector on them. Each time a different false witness is
called to testify these two appear, one or the other depend
ing upon whether the witness is a man or a woman. The pro
jector searches them out on the stage or in the audience
since they always testify from a new location.
Lighting is also effectively used as a technique in
other parts of the play. Boschetto, the spectator-
journalist in Turin, plays the role of the journalist at
the execution. He describes how the lights will dim when
all the electric current in the prison will be directed
toward the electric chair. After he speaks the lights in
the theater are lowered three times in a row. When the
execution actually does take place, the lights go out
and the journalist, during the interval of darkness, takes
a seat in the audience and becomes a spectator like the
actual spectators in the theater.

151
The use of lighting is also used to close the frame
work of the play. The theater usher in the play comes in
the dark with a flashlight to inspect the chairs of Cervi,
Vastadour, and Vorortzug as though they had left something
there. Then she turns her flashlight on the audience and
keeps it shining on them for several minutes. This ending
closes the framework of the play and again links the stage
action with the everyday lives of the real spectators.
Gatti uses only one set design, a huge neon panel which
symbolizes the American framework for the Sacco-Vanzetti
case. The panel suggests the theater lights in the Broadway
theater district and serves as a lighted display board
flashing newspaper headlines. Distance is achieved by the
fact that the audience never does see a traditional play
about Sacco and Vanzetti.
The titles of the ten sections of the play suggest an
interrelation between music, a political position, and film
techniques: I. Clefs de porte sous forme de spectateurs
partisans, II. Bande sonore pour un gnrique, III. Couplet
de la semaine du rire dans le Massachusetts, IV. Antiphon-
aire de la terreur blanche Palmer-City, V. Bande tmoin
pour un long mtrage policier, VI. Entracte avec les dix-
huit orphons de dtresse du Premier mai, VII. South Brain
tree Parade, VII. Hymne pour un enfant assassin, VI. Note
blanche et noire sur une triple agonie, X. Bel Canto. The
use of such titles also makes one think of Brecht's use of
titles to summarize the action. As the number of sections

152
suggests, this play is longer than Auguste G. and includes
more episodes. Perhaps this length symbolizes the long
death wait of the anarchists in jail. The play opens with
"Une mesure pour rien" which summarizes poetically what
will happen in the play. Throughout the play songs vary
the presentation of information, summarize the action,
and sometimes serve to interrupt it as do Brecht's didactic
songs in his plays.
The critic Bertrand Poirot-Delpech describes Chant
public as a play difficult to follow since the concepts of
time, space and objectivity are eliminated. Nevertheless
he thinks the play opens perspectives worth exploring and
he judges:
C'est la premire fois que le thtre cherche
approcher, non plus la vrit d'un vnement, mais
la ralit impalpable de son retenvissement possible
hors du temps et de l'espace o il s'est produit.
C'est la premiere fois qu'un drame vcu est exclu-
sivement restitu par ce qui le continue dans les
mmoires, les hontes ou les rvoltes de ses
survivants.17
Renee Saurel also remarks that the play is confusing at
18
times. Yet she views it as an attempt to create a new
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, "Chant public devant deux
chaises lectriques," in Au soir le soir (Paris: Mercure
de France, 1969), pp. 187-88.
18
Rene Saurel, "Sur la colline aux cerises, 'Chant
public devant deux chaises lectriques' d'Armand Gatti au
T.N.P.," Les Temps Modernes, 238 (1966), pp. 1671-72.

153
form of theater since it demands an effort on the part of
the spectator. She refers to the play as a "jeu de puzzle."
The confusion in the play arises partly because the
indentifications of the "supposed" spectators with a parti
cular character are never simple. Sometimes the first reac
tion of a "supposed" spectator is dictated by sentimental
reasons and the second one is conditioned by his/her social
class, race, past, or fear about the future. In Boston
Katz, a Jewish lawyer, is invited to the play by non-Jewish
friends. At first he identifies with the attitude of the
prosecuting attorney who will be granted social acceptance
along with membership in a private club when he has won the
convictions of Sacco and Vanzetti. After his friends have
left the theater, however, Katz identifies with Vanzetti.
In New Orleans Little Ned, a good-natured black who is
unemployed, identifies with Vanzetti, while Mann, a weak
and nasty man who is also black and an organizer for the
Republican Party, sides with the authorities. Mann identi
fies with those in power to protect himself. Little Ned
identifies with those of a similar socio-political position
so that he will not have to fight alone. The two characters
make different choices, yet their choices are dictated by
the fact they are black.
Another cause of confusion in Gattis plays and a
source of weakness in them is Gatti's use of language.
Yves Benot attributes this weakness to the fact that
Gatti does not have the same cultural heritage as the

154
generation of Malraux, even though he experienced the same
19
war. Moreover he thinks Gatti's inquietude contemporaine
is not experienced by the bourgeoisie or certain other
people who have cultural functions or positions. Gatti's
plays instead express his anxiety in relation to his own
identity, his origins as a worker, and as a fighter in the
French Resistance. Gatti's language is different, Benot
concludes, because his cultural background is different.
He describes the weaknesses in Gatti's language as follows:
Ce n'est pas seulement affaire d'ides ou de con
cepts, mais aussi et plus encore de langage: ce que
le style de Gatti a souvent de dconcertant, cette
manire d'entrechoquer des termes abstraits dont la
signification, dans ce contexte, ou bien s'est singu-
lairement assombrie, ou bien est devenue autre que
celle de 1'usage habituel, le mlange surprenant
d'lans lyriques arrts mi-course et d'analyses
feintes, tous ces traits rvlent que le langage
n'est pas, chez lui, un lment donn, djh pr-
par par une certaine culture, ou ducation, qu'il
est pniblement recr par 1'crivain.
Yet, Gatti's plays are important as experiments in theater
techniques and as a means to understand the evolution
toward political theater in France in the 1960s.
21
Alain Schifres calls Gatti a revolutionary humanist.
He believes Gatti never strays from his dream to free man.
Yves Benot, "Le Thtre d'Armand Gatti et l'inqui-
tude contemporaine," La Pense, 128 (1966), p. 129.
20
Benot, p. 123.
^ Alain Schifres, "Armand Gatti," Rlits, 188
(1966) p. 65.

155
It is true that Gatti wants to show spectators they have
many possibilities. Linear theater, according to him, dis
dains man because it does not give him any possibilities.
Gatti differentiates linear plays in which one or several
characters come into focus during a single period of time
22
from his plays which use "time possibility." In the
theater Gatti seeks to replace clocktime with another world
which possesses its own logic, its own way of seeing things.
In his opinion a man is born with all sorts of possibili
ties, but he finds himself limited by his parents, his envi
ronment, his education, and his experiences. Slowly he
loses some of the many possibilities life has offered him.
A person thus is living many lives simultaneously but he
is conscious of only one because he becomes chained to one
point of view. He can liberate himself, according to Gatti,
only when he lives life as an individual and looks at the
world in more than one way. When viewed in relation to the
idea of "time possibility," Gatti's "different" language
represents an attempt to present a conception of French
culture which recognizes various groups in French society
with differing points of view.
22
Knapp, p. 214.

CHAPTER VIII
1966-1968: V COMME VIETNAM AND LES TREIZE SOLEILS DE
LA RUE SAINT-BLAISE
The two other plays to be discussed, V comme Vietnam
and Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise, illustrate
how Gatti changed from taking an event in the past (death of
a striker between the two World Wars or the execution of
anarchists in 1927) to treating current problems such as the
war in Vietnam and the situation of the individual in the
French consumer society of the 1960s.
Both Auguste G. and Chant public were produced within
the time frame 1962-1966, in a period during which there
was much enthusiasm for popular theater. De Gaulle's pres
tige was rising, at least internationally, as a result of
his politique de la grandeur. Beginning in 1965-1966,
however, critics started questioning the concept of popular
theater and some of de Gaulle's policies. De Gaulle was
reelected on the 2nd ballot, not the first, and the Gaul-
lists failed in municipal elections. In 1966 the Ben Barka
scandal occurred when French police were implicated in his
disappearance. During the same year de Gaulle pulled French
forces out of NATO, visited the U.S.S.R., and continued to
attack the dollar and American actions in Asia. De Gaulles
anti-American attitude was paralleled in France by
156

157
an increase in public support for the North Vietnamese.
Gatti's play V comme Vietnam expresses both anti-Americanism
and support for the North Vietnamese.
Like de Gaulle, intellectuals of the Left such as
Sartre were vociferously critical of the role of the U.S.
during the Vietnam War. In an article written in 1970 which
summarizes some of his political views, Sartre supports
Cuba against the U.S., believing Fidel Castro discovered
he was really fighting the power of the United States when
he fought Batista's army."*" Sartre, however, does not think
the Cuban Revolution can serve as an example for Europe
because it occurred in the historical context of South
America. He also thinks the revolutionary strategy in China
is more suited to the Third World than to Europe. Accord
ing to him, the revolution in European society must proceed
beyond the dictatorship of the working class to substitute
a classless society for what is left of the structure of
the former dominant class. In addition he believes that
when the Left assumes power it will not oppose its own
bourgeoisie but rather American imperialism since the real
problem in France is economic dependence on the United
States. Consequently the Left must be engaged in inter
national conflicts, and the development of French capital
ism has to be viewed in the framework of international
class struggles.
1
Sartre, "Intellk. und Rev.,
pp. 37-38.

158
Beginning in the 1960s and continuing today French
intellectuals of the Left have tended to support Third
World revolutionary movements. Gatti, because of his back
ground can identify with revolutionary movements and does
support such groups in his plays. His point of view, at
least during the 1960s, coincided with that of many young
French men and women. At the time Gatti's play V comme
Vietnam was produced in 1967, various groups in high schools
and universities openly supported the North Vietnamese. It
was the Collectif Intersyndical Universitaire d'Action pour
la Paix au Vietnam, grouping together different teacher and
student unions, which approached Gatti and commissioned the
play about Vietnam.
It is not surprising that Gatti was very willing to
respond to the request of spectators from a union group.
According to him, critics who find his plays too complex
and unfit for a popular audience actually misjudge the
audience. Such critics rely on cultural references they
think are universal, but which are the result of the educa
tional system in France. The kind of spectators Gatti
wants to attract to the theater are those who are accus
tomed to viewing television and films. He believes such
spectators naturally understand his use of time. Televi
sion, for example, intermixes past, present, and future
events on news programs. For this reason Gatti divides
speactators into the following two groups:

159
a) ceux qui viennent l'acte culturel avec un monde
de references arrtes. Ces rfrences jouent ou
ne jouent pas. Certains ont mme pour unique vcu
ces refrnces, elles deviennent leur vcu rel.
b) ceux qui viennent avec la seule culture qu'ils
possdent, celle de leur quotidien. Ils compren-
nent la piece avec les rfrnces de leur quoti
dien. Chaqu horrarte doit tre en mesure de con
struir sa propre culture, de la construir en
tant qu'auteur, en tant qu'acteur, de la construir
galement, en tant que spectateur.^
During the period in which Gatti wrote V comme Vietnam
he believed that by giving workers culture, that is the
theater, he was giving them a means to fight injustice
through an understanding of their own capabilities. He
expresses this idea in the following statement:
Chaqu spectateur apporte avec lui sa culture, ses
problmes quotidiens; il apporte son tre alin
et comme rtrci par les conditions du prsent; le
but du spectacle est de vaincre ces rsistances
individuelles comme la grande resistance collec
tive et de permettre ainsi la ralisation de ce
que j'appellerai les "possibles" de l'individu.3
To the degree that theater influences a person's social
life Gatti believes it is political in nature. He realizes,
however, that it is not easy to turn a passive spectator
into a person of action and that the theater is not capable
of bringing about a revolution. Nevertheless at the time
Armand Gatti, "Un Thtre pour la cit," La Nef,
29 (Jan.-Mar. 1967), p. 72.
3
Armand Gatti, "Notes au spectateur idal selon Armand
Gatti," Les Lettres Frangaises, 1187 (15-21 June, 1967), p. 22.

160
he was writing V comme Vietnam he thought the theater was
capable of showing the spectator that he has the capacity
to act. For him the ideal spectator is the one who accepts
both the political and esthetic elements of a play and then
takes action in the direction indicated by the play. Gatti,
like Benjamin, states that both esthetic and political ele
ments are equally important in order for a literary text to
be politically effective. In addition for Gatti, as for
Brecht, the spectator's coming-to-consciousness with regard
to his true situation is am important function of theater.
Gatti expresses this idea when he states: "II faut que le
theatre permette aux classes les plus dshrites de prendre
4
conscience de leurs forces et, en meme temps, de se compter."
By becoming aware of his situation, the worker will be able
to go beyond his situation as a worker. Gatti's state
ments about the theater and his plays become more directly
political in 1967 which is not surprising considering the
general political unrest in France prior to the manifesta
tions of May 1968.
The Grenier de Toulouse first produced V comme Vietnam
in April 1967. The setting of the play is the Pentagon,
in particular the room in which the world's largest computer
referred to as chtaigne, is kept. For Gatti, the basic
issue of the Vietnamese conflict is the opposed conceptions
of the world, not in the ideological sense, as much as in
4
Gatti,
"Notes au spectateur," p. 22.

161
the more general sense of a technological machine-oriented
view opposed to a more simple, naturals view. This con
trast is symbolized by the computer and the planche clous
(board with nails in it). The planche a clous represents
not so much a real weapon as a mentality which is seen as
different from that of the Pentagon officials. The North
Vietnamese guerrilla force uses what is at hand in their
daily lives to resist the striking force of the Americans
which uses sophisticated weapons and is directed by govern
ment officials who rely on machines. Gatti presents the
Vietnamese as being more human and individualized than the
officials of the American government whom he satirizes.
Props in V comme Vietnam are used to bring out the
significance of the play. A TV screen is installed within
the huge computer while surrounding it, is a cyclorama con
taining maps which light up the four screens. The total
effect is that of a command post. On the left side of the
stage is a raised platform on which a map of Vietnam is
placed. This structure serves as a staging place for dis
cussions at the Pentagon as well as for events that take
place in Vietnam. Gatti tries to open up the stage. More
over, as in Brecht's drama, accessories become active ele
ments in his productions in order to bring out the real
significance of the play. For example, in this play
Gatti wants to demonstrate that facts and statistics are
5
Ward, pp. 412; 419; 425.

162
*. not the only means to arrive at an understanding of polit
ical reality. Therefore in the second part of the play he
has the computer regurgitate extraneous elements of infor-
mation, including two coffins containing American soldiers.
It thus produces concrete images, real individuals, instead
of merely numbers and it directly links the Pentagon to
p Vietnam. In this way the computer acts as an integral ele
ment in explaining the significance of the play.
The names of U.S. officials in the play are represen
tative of people actually working at the Pentagon at the
time. The secretary of defense is Quadrature (McNamara),
his assistant is Thorme, the head of the psychological
services is called Dr. XXX, and President Johnson is Mega-
sheriff. Quadrature convenes meetings with government offi
cials by having their images appear on television screens
on stage. This technique can be considered as a variation
of Gatti's use of simultaneity. It also exemplifies the
direct involvement of communication methods with their
immediate influence on worldwide events. During the Viet
nam war President Johnson was able to follow battles and
talk to commanders in the field by using modern equipment.
In the play the TV screens display the images of Admiral
Pointu; Bulldog, general of the marines; Pre "la Congrga-
tion, the head army chaplain; and Ventriloque, the ambassa
dor to Saigon.
The action in Vietnam is first linked to that in the
Pentagon when the journalist Weil Junior describes for

163
Pentagon officials a battle he witnessed in Vietnam. The
action switches to the raised platform where three Viet
namese are watching the same battle the journalist is des
cribing. They also notice, as did Weil Junior, an old pea
sant who continues to plow his field while the battle rages
around him. Unimpressed by the journalist's opinion about
the war or the Vietnamese, Quatrature continues to organize
the military maneuvers codenamed "Lance d'Argent," which
he believes will be the beginning of the United States'
entry into "hyperhistory."
Quadtafcre's idea of relying entirely on a striking
force led by troops in helicopters would reduce the impor
tance of the marines. Therefore, a subplot develops where
by Bulldog tries to reduce the success of the maneuvers.
The subplot is used to point out the difference of opinion
between the military in the combat zone and the cerebral
civilians at the Pentagon. As Quadrature states:
[Gnral Bulldog], si vous rflchissez quelques
instants, vous vous apercevrez que vous ne dsirez
rien poser. Pour les marines pacifier c'est se
mler aux gens, leur apporter nos bienfaits de la
main la main (done prendre part a leur ralit) et
en consequence, tablir des contacts sentimentaux.
Etablir ce genre de contact c'est se laisser prendre
par le mecanisme de la guerre rvolutionnaire.
Gatti's play about Vietnam is not simply meant to refer to
the war in Vietnam, but also to similar wars where force is
Armand Gatti, V comme Vietnam (Paris: Seuil, 1967)
p. 13. All quotations in the text are from this edition.
/

164
used to oppress a whole population. Gatti also wrote
plays about revolutionary movements in China (Un Homme seul,
Seuil, 1969), in Guatemala (La Naissanee, Seuil, 1967) in
Germany (Ros a Collective, Seuil, 1973) and in Spain (La Pas
sion du gnral Franco, Seuil, 1968). Furthermore, in the
quotation above Gatti implies the Korean War and the Alger
ian War during which some French soldiers sympathized with
the causes of the population they were sent to suppress.
The play is divided into twenty-nine episodes without
titles. This structure permits the fluidity necessary for
shifting the action to Vietnam or the Pentagon easily.
Gatti also uses these two simultaneous locations to intro
duce humorous elements in the play. He contrasts the
opinions of Pentagon officials with those of the Vietnamese.
For example, Dr. XXX explains that the village Kien Cuong
was converted into a hameau stratgique to protect vil
lagers and to protect a new air base for nuclear bombs.
The Vietnamese villager Tang introduces himself on the
platform and speaking directly to the audience expresses
his own opinion about the razing of the village to form a
hameau stratgique;
Je suis le paysan Nguyen Huu Tang... Avant la con
version de Kien Cuong en hameau stratgique, je
fournissais du ravitaillement aux hommes poursuivis
par Diem. Pourquoi? Parce que du temps du Viet-
minh on a ramen le taux de fermage a 25% de la
rcolfce relle. On a aboli la dette usuraire. On
a expropri les terres laisses en friche apparte-
nant aux collaborateurs. Nous avons considr ce
qu'on nous avait donn comme tant ntre. Mais la
rforme agraire amricaine l'a redonn l'ancien
propritaire, je me suis senti victime et j'ai

165
aid ceux qui l'taient. Depuis on nous a demand
de quitter nos terres pour nous couper de la
guerilla. Nous avons refuse. Le village a t
bombard et mis derrire les barbeles. Nos terres
ont t passes au bulldozer et sont devenues la
base de Kien Cuong. (p. 16)
The town Kien Cuong is the focal point of the action which
links the Vietnamese directly to the Pentagon. The Viet
namese guerrillas are able to attack the air base by infil
trating the hameau strategique from which they dig tunnels
to attack the military installation.
In the play Gatti presents the social, economic, and
political issues from the point of view of the Vietnamese.
The razing of the town Kien Cuong by American bulldozers
destroys part of the history and culture of the villagers..
In contrast to the Vietnamese conception of history and
their attachment to the land, Dr. XXX states: "Ecrit l'his-
toire celui qui gagne la guerre" (p. 28). Quadrature
replies that when the U.S. will be in "hyperhistory"
there will be 200 possible versions of history and the com
puter will choose the one most adapted to the circumstances.
Here Gatti is humorously criticizing the structuralist
models of history as well as the language chosen by poli
ticians to describe events.
Humor as well as criticism also occurs when President
Johnson as Mgasheriff enters the Pentagon and a coin is
put into the computer to create a Texan atmosphere by
playing Western music. Other characters on stage sit

166
down and look at a screen as if they are watching a film.
Westerns were very popular films during the 1960s in
France. Gatti uses a light parody of the Western to indi
rectly criticize de Gaulle's politique de la grandeur when
Dr. XXX states:
[Par roulement travers les poques] se manifest
toujours dans l'histoire du monde un peuple lu-
c'est--dire un peuple qui martle sa ressem-
blance tout le reste de l'Univers. Rien ne lais-
sait prvoir [ sa naissance] que le Texas serait
ce peuple-l. (p. 29)
When Mgasheriff enters the Pentagon a second time,
five Mgasheriffs appear on stage: Mgasheriff no. 2, is
the well-liked one; no. 3, the contractor who builds dams
to get votes; no. 4, the "do-gooder,11 who wants to create
a great society, resolve the black problem, and abolish
poverty; and no. 5, the liar. Using simultaneity Gatti
shows the contradictions within Johnson's personality.
Whereas Brecht in his plays develops the consequences of
contradictions within a character, Gatti uses five actors
to concretely symbolize this contradiction. In this way
Gatti limits the psychological development of the charac
ter and yet shows the contradictions within Johnson's per
sonality .
Mgasheriff and the Pentagon officials view the war
in Vietnam like a game. Quadrature concludes that the oper
ation "Lance d'Argent" was successful and any possibility
of a new Dien Bien Phu is excluded. When he states, "nous

167
ne voulons plus conqurir, mais frapper," (p. 68) Gatti is
indirectly criticizing not only the Americans, but also
de Gaulle's policy to develop a nuclear force, a force de
frappe. Having witnessed France's defeats in Indo-China
and Algeria, Gatti does not believe a revolutionary war
can be conquered by a conventional army and navy, nor does
he believe nuclear arms should be used.
To develop this idea further Gatti introduces the
story of the peasant Thu. Tang relates that while Thu
was hiding in a tree, the South Vietnamese General Dzuc
ordered troops to kill Thu's wife and son to force Thu to
show himself. When Thu appears General Dzuc takes him to
the communal house. Once inside Thu cries out and the
villagers using javelins, picks, and axes kill general Dzuc
Therefore, villagers using instruments in their daily lives
are successful against a general in the same way a popular
revolutionary army will ultimately overcome the sophisti
cated war machines of the superpowers.
This episode is related to the theme of the planche
a clous. The peasant Dinh sends three packages to the
Pentagon addressed to the Secretary of Defense. Each
package contains a board with nails in it and they symbo
lize Dinh's perserverance in protesting against the .S.
bombings in Vietnam. Dinh relates:
C'tait ma fagon de protester. Je n'osis protester
davantage parce que j'avais peur d'attirer les repr-
sailles sur Yuan ma filie. Mais force d'en-
foncer les clous, j'ai appris la perseverance.

168
Juste ce qu'il fallait pour permettre un rparateur
de bicyclettes de rever Cavec ses seuls moyens)
la destruction des bombardiers nuclaires stationnes
ici. (p. 76)7
The peasant Phuong adds that the first board with nails was
constructed by Trong True who was killed by the French in
1860. Dinh's protest is a continuation of Trong True's
resistance. Thus Gatti establishes a link between past his
tory and present events since for Gatti the past is part of
the present. One must understand the past to understand
the present.
The link between Vietnam and the Pentagon, first sug
gested by the packages containing the planche a clous, be
comes more direct when a soldier at the Kien Cuong air base
being interviewed by Quadrature at the Pentagon via tele
communications disappears from the TV screen as the camp is
attacked. The guerrilla fighter Tang then emerges from the
computer at the Pentagon. The instructor Luyen and the
peasant Phuong accompany him. Luyen proceeds to establish
a new encyclopedia in an effort to replace the culture
forced upon the Vietnamese by foreign invaders. Tang's
first contribution to the new encyclopedia is to the
letter "C ." He provides a definition for crapaud, frog.
Gatti's play La Cigogne (Seuil, 1971) deals in a
poetic style with the slow deaths of Japanese victims of
radiation after the Second World War.

169
On prend un crapaud on lui introduit une boulette
de tabac dans la bouche et on 1'attache aux barbeles
qui dfendent un camp ennemi. Le crapaud tousse.
Les sentinelles tirent parce que sa toux est humaine.
Qa peut durer longtemps. Des nuits entires par-
fois. (p. 86)
At the end of the play Tang wants to add to the encyclopedia
a definition under the letter "Vi" He describes a Vietcong
as, "un animal aux poils verts [cortime l'herbe 1'lphantsfsic] ]
difficile capturer et qui lorsqu'il se met debout change
la face du monde. A la lettre V [comme Vietnam]" (p. 123).
Guerrilla tactics are presented as a necessary element in
establishing a new culture. Monkeys are used to carry slo
gans in the market place and bees are trained to attack the
ennemy.
Symmetry is used in the structure of the play when
guerilla fighters attack the camp at Kien Cuong in the
second half of the play. The same government officials
reappear on TV screens. This time, instead of discussing
military maneuvers, they report on an actual battle raging
in Vietnam. The TV screens are used to distance "the
war, as it is distanced by television announcers. From the
battle field in Vietnam the following information is
reported:
- Tirs sur baraquements nous ont fait croire qu'il
s'agissait d'une rvolte
- Avons ananti l'unit sud-vietnamienne qui nous
secondait. .
- Aucune trace de Vietcong.

170
- Reprsailles sur la Vietnam-Nord demandes
d'urgence. (p. 89)
With the TV screens Gatti successfully reveals the diffi
culties which American soldiers faced. They do not know
whom they are fighting and who is fighting for them. Gatti
sides with the North Vietnamese, but he also explains why
he thinks the Americans can not win if the population
supports the guerrilla fighters. The techniques Gatti uses
in the structure of the play effectively underscore the
action and the purpose of the themes he presents.
Another theme that is used in relation to structural
techniques is the theater. In contrast to the Americans
who use a computer and TV screens, the Vietnamese use live
theater to create dramas about current events. Consequently
their theater plays an active part in the war. Gatti pre
sents this idea in the play by having actors come and lis
ten to the "dreams" of soldiers. The term "dream" is used
to give distance to the events related. The school teacher
Luyen dreams that an elementary school is bombed and the
children are too frightened to go out of the building with
out the help of the teacher. In the process of carrying the
children from the classroom the teacher is seriously
wounded. When he calls to the children to climb out of the
window, they are unable to do it because they are too
small. The narration of this information contrasts with
and recalls the cold statistics related about children
wounded by the Americans when Megasheriff asks if American

>
171
weapons are effective, earlier in the play: "[Peper vous
qui parcourez le pays] pensez-vous que nos armes soient
efficaces?." To which Peper, who collects contributions for
the church responds: "Mon enqute pour 1' instant donne les
chiffres de 750,000 enfant mutils ou brls et 250,000 tus
par le napalm et les gaz toxiques"(p. 24).
In V comme Vietnam Gatti uses verse or songs to pro
vide contrast, interruption, variety in the presentation of
information, a Brechtian lesson, or a fragment of the puz
zle the spectator must put together to understand the mean
ing of the text. The story in verse below is related by
Stanley after he learns of Sophie's suicide in a military
prison on Guam. He had read the story in Vietcong propaganda
used to prepare him and Sophie for their roles as subversive
agents in the U.S. military maneuvers "Lance D'Argent." The
story in verse below appears on page 62 of the text. It
is not until page 100 when Luyen's story about the elemen
tary school is related that the significance of the verse
story becomes clear. Through the story Gatti links the
young Americans Sophie and Stanley with the Vietcong cause.
A Uan Mai, les enfants
mangent des gteaux
de lime, font nager
les carpes au-dessus
de leurs tetes, et
surveillent les canards.
Du ciel sont arrivs
des ballons plus brillants
que des pamplemousses.
Ceux qui les ont ramasss
ne savaient pas ce
qu'tait un gaz toxique.

172
Gatti's verse does not have the artistic quality of many of
Brecht's songs which are entities even outside of the text
of a play. Nevertheless this song does def ami-liarize media
images of napalm victims to which many viewers and readers
have become insensitive. It paradokically familiarizes and
defamiliarizes reality as do all effective metaphors.
Gatti creates a contrast between the "dream" characters
of the Vietnamese theater and the five Megasheriffs who
appear on stage simultaneously: one dressed as a Texan and
the others dressed as Shakespearean characters Macbeth,
King Lear, Richard III and Henry V. The Americans view pro
gress in terms of destruction when they create a hameau
stratglque cut of the village of Kien Cuong. Gatti
expresses this idea when Mgasheriff-Richard III states:
"C'est comme l'histoire du touriste de la Gorgie, Robert
Moore qui tlgraphie sa demi-soeur d'Atlanta 'Chicago
brle, la ville entire est en flammes! Dieu soit lou'"
(p. 121). By using a short anecdote in the style of
Johnson, stated by a Shakespearean character, Gatti criti
cizes the outdated American policies. The bloody historical
acts of a Shakespearean king are seen as comparable to the
bloody acts of Johnson. Such an incongruous presentation
permits a critical distance. This technique draws atten
tion to what is said, by whom, and to what purpose. The
spectator has to put the meaning together by comparing
the Shakespearean Mgasheriff with the simple, revolution
ary guerrilla fighter who is creating a new culture and a

173
new history. For Gatti the latter is the contemporary hero
and the former is outdated.
The four Megasheriff-kings sit on the scattered parts
of the computer and reign over a changing society that is
breaking apart into fragments. Gatti may be parodying here
the 1960s trend in the theater to update Shakespeare, again
as a way of drawing attention to the subject of theater as
theater. Many French directors and critics renewed their
interest in Shakespeare at that time. Jean Duvignaud com
pared the upheaval in sofciety in our times to the one dur-
g
ing Shakespeare's lifetime. Jan Kott saw similarities
9
between Shakespeare's plays and Beckett's. And, as was
discussed earlier, Planchn updated Henry IV.
After the "dreams" of the soldiers, which will be
used in theater productions, Gatti extends the framework
of the play to include congratulations to an existing guer
rilla group which kidnapped an American general in Venezu
ela. In this way the play is seen as an artificial compo
sition which has an active counterpart in revolutionary
action in the real world. At the end of the play, in order
to again emphasize the relation between the action in the
play and the external world, the actor portraying
Jean Duvignaud, Sociologie du Thtre; Essai sur
les ombres collectives (Paris: Presses Universitaires de
France, 1965).
9
Jan Kott, Shakespeare our Contemporary, trans.
Boleslaw Toborski (Garden City, N.Y., Anchor Books, 1966).

174
Quadrature takes off his mask. Through the TV screens,
which are lowered from the flies, he addresses himself to
the Pentagon officials. Actually, he is indirectly addres
sing the spectators and urging them to take action to stop
the bloodshed. His gesture in the play demonstrates the
trend of some actors to take a more committed stand regard
ing political questions.
Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise, the other
play to be discussed in this chapter, evolved from an exper
imental project initiated by Guy Rtor, the director of
the Thtre d'Est Parisin (TEP). In 1967 thirty theater
spectators representing various groups and professions
volunteered to discuss their daily lives and concerns with
Gatti. The project was an attempt to write a play about the
lives of people living in the working-class district in
which the theater is located. It was also an experiment to
encourage the active participation of the audience in
theater activities, including the process of creation.
Nevertheless Gatti's constant themes and techniques reap
pear in this play. Seuil published the text of the play
in 1968 and it was first performed in France in March 1968
by the troupe La Guilde directed by Guy Rtor at the
Thtre d'Est Parisin.
The framework for the structure of the play is a night-
school course for adults which Christine Blanc teaches.
The play is divided into six parts without titles. The

4
activities connected with the school course are used to
introduce different themes. In the preface to the play
Gatti states: "Treize visions du monde plus ou moins anta-
gonistes- c'est-a-dire treize pieces possibles- vont
s'affronter le long de cette rue Saint-Blaise qui, dans
le XXe arrondissement, va de la Commune nos jours.
The thirteen different views are those of Martine Doussel
a salesgirl in a dairy (soleil reflechi), Mireille Berque
an employee in the clothing industry (soleil modre),
Roberte Boulise an unemployed girl formerly working in a
flower shop (tournesol), Maurice ProfUot-- an employee at
city hall (soleil municipal), Raymond Krasewki a worker
in a furniture factory (soleil revendicatif), Pierre
Sulvivani' a painter (soleil baroque) Antoine Marpeaux-*-
a metallurgist (soleil insatisfait), Yves Paumier--
a messenger in a publication house (soleil excentrique),
Claudius Rouget a guard at the townhall (soleil commemora-
tif V Michel Arsenian a deliverer in the clothing indus
try (soleil subalterne) Max Brousse an odd-job man who
is a Spaniard with an assumed French name (soleil marginal),
Herv le Bihana streetcleaner (sole11 noir-Antillais),
and the Arab Ali Amrani, who is an unskilled worker (cog).
In order to have the students write a composition,
the teacher introduces a newspaper article which states:
Armand Gatti, Les Treize SoleiIs de la rue Saint-
Blaise (Paris: Seuil, 1968), p. 7. All quotations in the
text are from this edition.

176
"La Prefecture de Paris vient de decider la destruction de
quarante-deux hectares qui, dans le 20e arrondissement,
foment le quartier de Charonne, pour y installer des im-
meubles de grand standing. Au centre de ce quartier, la
ru Saint-Blaise..." (p. 13). A workers' district is to
be destroyed in order to build new buildings. The teacher
dictates the subject of composition as follows:
Une rue, c'est toujours la possibilit d'tre
ailleurs. Celui qui, au lever du jour, a vu la
rue Saint-Blaise natre de son asphalte, au milieu
des platanes, a envie d'etre un soleil..." (p. 14)
The students are asked to personify the sun which rises each
morning on the street and to imagine what would be its
reaction to the change. Would it keep the street as it is
or would it approve the new buildings? The suns are
created through the imagination of the actual students.
All the students are doubled by a sun except Herv, the
black streetcleaner, who does not form an idea about the
subject of the composition until the end of the play.
Gatti uses music to punctuate the statements made by
the suns as they come into existence. As the "Mesure
pour rien" foreshadows the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti
in Auguste G., the "Ballade de l'Echelle" in Treize
Soleils foreshadows the theme in the play contrasting a
worker's mind-numbing work and the possibilities of his
imagination.

177
Ballade de l'Echelle
Chaqu hoitvme est un soleil.
Autour de lui gravitent ses passions,
la marche des annes-lumires
et des annes d'exploitation
sur la triste chelle des salaires. .
Sur 1'chelle du temps cosmique
ou 1'chelle barreaux sur laquelle,
force de grimper, on se casse le dos,
Chaqu homme est un soleil. (pp. 15-16)
Here again, unlike Brecht's songs, Gatti's verse can not
stand alone as poetry. Yet the song does introduce a cosmic
dimension attached to the idea of suns and the possibilities
of human imagination.
Different opinions, based on the type of employment
performed by each worker, are expressed by the suns. The
municipal sun Maurice Profilot supports the renovation of
the street Saint-Blaise, believing that workers will at last
have decent housing. Raymond Krasewki, a union leader in a
furniture factory, is against the idea. He thinks it is a
scheme to force the workers in Mnilmontant, the tradi
tional communist district, to move to the other working-class
districts of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis, which conse
quently will become ghettos of the working class. Indivi
dual characters are presented as simple people, yet their
diverse views bring complexity to the play.
The suns are perceived as separate from the students
who create them. Claudius Rouget says about his creator:
Pour quelqu'un qui est n dans le vingtieme,
tu mrites des coups. Le Mur des Fdrs,

178
c'est quand mme pas Melun qu'il se trouve.
C'est deux pas d'ici (au Pere Lachaise).
Et Varlin (notre Eugene Varlin de la Commune), il
a bien d traverser la rue Saint-Blaise, lorsqu'elle
tait insurge. (p. 21)
The student who imagines this sun has just returned a book
to the teacher about the Commune. Behind Ali Amrani, an
immigrant worker from Algeria, a rooster appears instead of
a sun because a rooster is more appropriate to his thoughts
than French culture or French history. Gatti humorously
introduces criticism of the consumer society when Mireille
Berque (soleil modre) employed in the clothing industry,
says about her creator: "Et puis elle a ses manies. Pour
elle, un soleil c'est de la matire plastique lavable avec
dsordorisant, fly-tox, savonnettes. Je refuse de paraitre
dans ces conditions" (p. 28). The anarchistic Spaniard
Claret (soleil marginal) disagrees with his student creator
to such an extent that he assumes a different name, calling
himself Max Brousse.
The play presents the idea that workers should be inde
pendent and capable of being cocreators, coproducers,
codirectors in the society. The suns form committees on
rooftops, a natural place for suns, to study man, woman,
and the child. To symbolize a scientific approach to urban
problems, each committee is equipped with a cybernetic
globe to assist them in their work.
When the rooster representing the Arab worker is brought
to the committee studying the child, Yves Paumier states:
"Comment voulez-vous que soit incluqu un volatile

179
(superbe, certes) la-prise-de-conscience-de-son-tat-de
soleil?" (p. 37). This of course is an indirect reference
to the idea of the working class becoming aware of its his
torical situation. Paumier adds, "Ses preferences sur
l'habitat (si toujours il les exprime) risque d'tre tres
anarchiques" (p. 38). Gatti means that workers who actually
live in government-built houses are not asked their opinion
by architects and city planners. The obvious suggestion of
the playwright is that they should be asked.
Gatti also criticizes sociological studies that com
pile statistics about social problems without taking into
consideration the human, individual qualities of men and
women. The committee studying man uses salaries as the
basis for their programmed statistics, thereby classifying
men by what they earn. This committee finds that man's
virility is represented only by the rugby matches he watches
on television and the car he drives, which acts as a sexe de
remplacement (p. 43). The committee studying woman uses per
forated cards to classify women into the following cate
gories: Femme mystifie, femme dmystifie, femme libere,
femme colonisee, courrier du coeur, la femme et la pilule,
la femme avec la machine a layer et le mixer, and the ter-
nel fminin (p. 40) .
In Auguste G., Chant publique, and V comme Vietnam
Gatti uses the advertising style to criticize big business.
In Treize Soleils he uses this style to criticize a con
sumer society made up of individuals preoccupied with a

180
superficial selfimage, and who are incapable of critical
reflection about social issues. The idea of revolution in
a consumer society is made to appear frivolous in contrast
to the idea of political revolution when Berque talks about
"une cuisinire hublot panoramique" being described as
revolutionary and then adds: "Ce serait bien tonnant que
les femmes de la rue Saint-Blaise fassent la revolution avec
des mitraillettes. (C'est bon pour les pays sous-dvelopps.)
Vous n'avez qu' voir les journaux" (p. 47). In contrast to
the committees' findings about the consumer society Max
Brousse (soleil marginal) calls for the "multiform" that is,
the acceptance of all possibilities in a pluralistic society
as opposed to one represented by a dominant ideology. His
comment introduces the theme of a dominant bourgeois culture
as represented by the school teacher Mile. Blanc.
With a whip in hand, Mile. Blanc strikes out sen
tences of the student compositions which she considers unin
teresting. "At this point the "Ballade de l'Echelle" is
repeated, thus interconnecting social-cultural-ideological
domination and economic domination. Mile. Blanc forces
Rouget, who wrote his composition about the Paris Commune,
the first workers' revolution, to assume the position of a
horse. She then climbs on his back and clacks her whip as
he pretends to gallop. Perhaps this concrete image of dom
ination does not succeed as a visual image, but the staging
reminds one of Genet's Le Balcn and Ionesco's La Legn.
Once more Gatti seems to draw attention to the theater as
theater.

181
Mile. Blanc judges compositions according to her bour
geois culture. For this reason Max Brousse criticizes her
distribution of grades by stating:
Pour moi, vous reprsentez la culture (une certaine
culture qui consiste rchauffer les ftes mortes de
1'esprit), les grandes rvolutions de 1'esprit, dsa-
morces sans le contexte qui leur donnait leur vio
lence et leur inscurit les grandes rvolutions
enfin confortables, habitables, avec robinets pour
eau chaude et eau froide, rfrigrateur et air condi-
tionn. Rien de cette culture balbutiante, colreuse,
gnreuse, qui vient de la lutte de chaqu jour,
avec la parcelle de vrit transitoire trouver
chaqu jour pour reconqurir un peu de chaleur dans
1'indiffrence et la froideur d'un monde qu'on ne
connait pas. Rien a partir de la, nous n'aurons
jamais rien de commun. (pp. 71-72).
The suns reject Mile. Banc's opinions. From the "poubelles
de l'Histoire" (perhaps an indirect contrast to Beckett's
jars and garbage cans) to which their compositions have been
relegated, they start their resistance in the street Saint-
Blaise (p. 72).
The suns search for a new image of themselves and a
new culture. In the process they follow a number of wrong
leads. Genet in his play Les Ngres, in a completely dif
ferent style, suggests how hard it is for a black couple to
express their love without using the images dictated by a
dominant, colonialist culture. The problem of forming a new
identity is related to a critical view of ideology and cul
ture. In a similar manner the suns experience many fail
ures in their attempts to revolutionize society. Introduc
ing the idea of sexual revolution Brousse states: "Krasewki,
vous qui avez peut-tre eu (en son temps) le privilege de

182
pntrer le corps de Boulise avait-elle ce moment-l le
sentiment de faire la revolution?" (p. 86). This idea
causes a general surprise among the suns.
During the 1960s uninhibited naked girls appeared on
stage in "happenings." In Treize Soleils Mile. Blanc is
stripped of her clothes as a means of symbolically strip
ping her cultural attributes. The allusion to sex by
Brousse above creates an interruption in the presentation
and implies a relationship between culture or ideology
and attitudes toward sex and love. Obviously for Gatti the
sex in happenings is pointless. For him a sexual revolu
tion would entail consciousness-raising. When he has the
students strip Mile. Blancor view her with telescopes from
their rooftop committee meetings, he is establishing a
critical view of Mile. Blanc as a purveyor of bourgeois
culture.
At times the play seems to be a helter-skelter review
of ideas prevalent in France in student and theater groups
just prior to May 1968. Concerning the discussions with
the thirty spectators from different groups who were the
"cocreators" of Treize Soleils, Gatti states:
lis changeait leurs impressions sur l'urbanisme,
la militance, le tierc, les problmes de la femme,
les computers, la rsistance, 1'insatisfaction ouvrire,
les vacances... Tout autour, inlassables comme la mer,
venaient battre les vnements du jour, le Vietnam,
la guerre israelo-arabe. Pour moi c'tait le vertige.
(preface, p. 7)

183
Even so, the play does reflect Gatti's constant concerns.
From his own experience education is an equalizer. His
ability to excel in French permitted him to compete with
other French students although his family background dif
fered from theirs. In V comme Vietnam the instructor has
an important role in creating a new encyclopedia. Fur
thermore, in Gatti's reportage-fiction Siberie -0 + 1'infini
(Seuil, 1958) a young Siberian returns to her people to
teach them about Russian literature, instead of continuing
her brilliant career as a student in Moscow. Thus, edu
cation represents the hope that after a long history of
political struggles the future will be better.
The importance of education reappears when Brousse
suggests to Doussel that she should become a teacher and
conduct her own night-school courses emphasizing problems
in everyday life. Similarly, in May 1968 theater acti
vists speak of maisons clates, spontaneous creation, and
the participation of spectators in a play's production.
Indeed, some activists view the concept of maisons de la
culture as a way to conserve bourgeois culture and a means
to prevent experimentation with new forms of theater more
atuned to the everyday lives of individual spectators.
By rejecting Mile. Blanc, the suns reject bourgeois
culture and try to establish their own. Gatti provides two
endings to the play to convey this idea. First Mile. Blanc
is awakened when Herv, the black streetcleaner, knocks on
her apartment door to inform her that he has an idea for

184
his composition. This episode ends Mile. Blanc's "nightmare
of being attacked by her students. Herv's composition
topic also reassures her because it reflects the influence
of detective stories, an accepted form of cultural diversion
In addition, Herv leaves one sun undefined. Doussel then
becomes this sun and therefore succeeds in liberating her
self from established, accepted, fixed forms of bourgeois
culture. Doussel will start her courses by basing them on
the salesgirl in a dairy, who created her. She concludes:
Peut-tre la seule rvolution solaire laquelle
(dans notre tat) nous puissions prtendre c'est
de nous inventer une culture (la fabriquer avec
ce que nous sommes). A Eugne Varlin. Les
ouvriers relieurs reconnaissants." C'est avec cette
inscription de la montre qu'elle a commenc. (p. 117)
Varlin's watch was taken from his body after he was executed
during the period of repression following the Paris Commune
in 1871. Supposedly a rich bourgeois wore it and showed it
at dinner parties. For Gatti, Varlin remains a symbol like
Sacco and Vanzetti "hanging in suspense," still alive in
the sense that he inspires others to continue the history of
workers' struggles. Their history and their point of view
has not yet been written. Doussel must begin with what was
inscribed by Varlin's coworkers because even Varlin's grue
some death is described in history by a bourgeois writer
for whom Varlin is a hero merely of past history. For Gatti
the past is a living part of the present and the future.
Therefore Varlin's struggle must be viewed in terms of con
temporary revolutionary struggles.

185
Critics in general were not favorably impressed by
Gatti's Treize Soleils. Giles Sandier found Gatti's
play ineffective as theater:
Tout cet onirisme demeure laborieux, hermtique,
inutilement compliqu, et sans grand pouvoir de
signification, ni de dnonciation. On se perd dans
ces limbes confus pavs de bonnes intentions, au
rythme d'un langage faussement raliste dont pas
une phrase ne sonne juste ni ne parvient s'etablir
sur la scene.1
Sandier doubts that those spectators who participated in
the experiment feel concern for what is presented or consi
der the play to be a moral or political prise de conscience.
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech points out the misconceptions
of some theater activists about spectators and the role of
12
the theater. Leaders of associations and of unions do not
know what kind of plays best satisfies their members' needs.
An audience goes to the theater for the spectacle, not to
formulate what kind of performance it wants to see. And,
according to Poirot-Delpech, theater directors seem more
preoccupied with their own problems than with those of
their audience. Even when a writer like Gatti consults spec
tators, Poiret-Delpech doubts that an inhabitant of the
street Saint-Blaise can recognize himself in the play
Treize Soleils. He explains the problem which arises when
Giles Sandier, "ThStre populaire?." La Quinzaine
Littraire, 50 (1-15 May 1968), p. 26.
12
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, "Que demande le peuple,"
in Au soir le soir (Paris: Mercure de France, 1969), p. 240.

186
a theater group subsidized by the state engages in cultural
activities with political implications:
Parce qu'elle releve la fois de directives
fumeuses et de contingences bassement electorales, la
politique culturelle expose ses serviteurs aux pires
contradictions. Tantt ils sont libres de vouer
la ruine l'Etat qui les nourrit sans autre mandat que
celui de leur conscience. Tantt on les met en va-
cances sans pravis. Dans tous les cas, pour la
gauche crame pour la droite, il font figure de privi
legies incontrolables aux raisons d'tre toujours
plus floues.13
In an article written three years earlier than Poiret-
Delpech's review of Treize Soleils, Bernard Dort also men
tions misconceptions concerning the popular theater move-
14
ment. In his opinion, a theater for the masses can not
be realized unless certain changes occur in the educational
system because "l'accs des thtres suppose un acquis cul-
turel antrieur: contrairement ce que croient certains
animateurs, le thtre, ft-il populaire, ne saurait jouer
15
a lui seul un rle de formation culturelle." According
to Dort workers will not attend the theater until the struc
ture of education is changed. Moreover, they must partici
pate in the management of their own work situation and a
work schedule must be established to permit workers to
have more leisure time.
Poiret-Delpech, Que demande le peuple," p. 242.
Bernard Dort, "Les Nouveaux Thtres l'heure du
choix," Les Temps Modernes, 239 (Apr. 1966), p. 1843.
15 Dort, p. 1844.

187
Commenting on the political trend in French drama in
reviewing the 1967-1968 theater season, Poirot-Delpech
states that many of the plays produced were prophetic since
characters manifested a desire to move toward action. He
interprets this as a sign that intellectuals of the Left
were impatient and ready to engage in revolutionary action
16
elsewhere, for example in Bolivia. According to him,
Gatti's play Treize Soleils demonstrates a permanent revo
lutionary trend in the spirit of the Commune. Moreover, the
TNP's production of Brecht's La Mere, adapted from Gorki's
novel, and Antoine Vitez's production of Mayakovsky's
Les Bains both foreshadow the events in May during which
red flags would appear at the Odon and the bureaucratic
sclerosis of de Gaulle's administration would be criticized.
In addition, Jack Frisch writing in 1968 notes a
17
general trend m Europe toward political drama. In
Gatti's play V comme Vietnam Frisch sees a direct correla
tion between the play and the public world. This correla
tion does not occur through the author's composition;
instead it is present because Gatti is working with some
thing which specifically exists outside of the play.
Frisch criticizes the overt anti-Americanism expressed in
the play since he believes it detracts from Gatti's ideas.
Poirot-Delpech, "Que demande le peuple," p, 250.
17
Jack E. Frisch, "Public and Private Worlds m
," Drama Survey, 7, 1 and 2 (Winter 1968-1969), 151.
Drama

188
Like Frisch, Dominique ores is also critical of
Gatti's overtly political play V comme Vietnam: "Gatti
ne semble pas avoir dispos pour l'crire d'une information
plus riche que celle de n'importe quel lecteur de grande
18
presse." It is true that Gatti's plays sometimes illus
trate a journalistic approach to facts, but he always trans
forms this information by using a lyrical or satirical style.
ores describes Gatti's Treize Soleils as "touffue, inca-
pable de s'ouvrir aucun dbat claire." She believes
these two plays are inferior to Gatti's Chant public because
the subjects were presented to Gatti by others. Yet even
when other people suggest the subject or participate in the
conception of a play or project, Gatti's constant themes
and techniques of distanciation are used. This trend con
tinues in Gatti's activities of the 1970s.
18
Dominique ores, "Gatti, une dramaturgie en suspens,"
Les Lettres Nouvelles, (Sept.-Oct. 1969), p. 183.
19
ores, p. 181.

CHAPTER IX
POPULAR THEATER AFTER MAY 1968
Writing in 1969, Emile Copfermann stated the popular
theater which had done the most to promote Brecht was vacil
lating in uncertainty.^- He noted the tendency to stage
Brecht's plays in France by ignoring the political parts, by
presenting them as historical, plays from another era. He
felt two productions contradicted this trend: one by the
Living Theater and one by Jean-Pierre Vincents troupe at
Chalon-sur-Sane. The first one turned away from Brecht and
developed an apocalyptic and messianic style through tech
niques of aggression upon the spectator; the second one
respected the structure and practice of Brecht's didactic
play. Copfermann predicted that the spectacular forain,^ ,
simple, direct, less artistic, would prevail in the theater
of the 1970s. It is true that attention in the 1970s was
turned toward improvisations, collective works, the specta
cular. Also, in some instances, theater groups did inter
prete plays by adopting a Brechtian didactic method of
staging. The political and social elements in such plays,
Emile Copfermann, "La Rsistible Dcouverte du thtre
de Monsieur Bertolt Brecht en France," Les Lettres Frangaises,
1276 (26 May 2 Apr. 1969), pp. 14-15.
189

190
however, rarely expressed the vitality and commitment evi
dent in Gatti1s plays (Benedetto's plays being perhaps a
noteworthy exception).
A year after Copfermann's article appeared, Alfred
Simon cited as successful results of improvisations and col
lective creations Jean-Louis Barrault's Rabelais, Ariane
Mnouchkine* s Les Clowns, and Roger Planchn's La Mise en
2
pieces d 'Cid'. In reference to Planchn's play he
stated:
La mise en pieces du Cid est sortie toute arme du
happening de Mai, apothose en forme de liquidation.
Avec une verve inouie, Roger Planchn met la machi-
nerie du theatre en delire. Celui qui est le plus
grand crateur du moment et un guide de 1'action
thtrale salue la fin du theatre dans un vieux monde
qui n'en finit pas de finir, clebre le grand dsarroi,
transforme le crmonial du nant en kermesse.-*
Simon did not think the class struggle should be made the
dynamic force of plays. According to him, dogmatic Brechtism
and activism of the Left, even though they influenced a rela
tively small portion of the repertory of the popular theater,
rendered this type of theater vulnerable to attacks from
reactionaries. He instead called for a popular theater for
pleasure, not by principle, since a theater without a public
makes it impossible for theater to serve any purpose in the
Alfred Simon, "Thtre et dsastre; qui croit encore
au thtre populaire?" Esprit, 393 (June 1970), pp. 1140-41.
3
Simon, p. 1149.

191
society. Simon indicated the direction some French theater
groups took after 1968. Roger Planchn's troupe is the most
important example.
Planchn sought to survive in order to have the right
to continue practicing theater. His Thtre de la Cit
became the TNP in Lyon in 1973. It is also true that the
political climate in France had changed and many audiences
preferred to see a beautiful, comical spectacle rather than
hear social and political rhetoric. During the 1970s,
Planchn periodically staged plays he had written in the
1960s, and his adaptions of French Classics or Shakespeare's
4
plays. In 1979 the TNP in Lyon produced Antoine et Cloptre.
The theme of the adaption was to show that Shakespeare can
not be accepted literally; his true meaning can only be
understood through the art of film, which by definition is
completely fabricated and accepted in its falseness. In the
play the action was moved to America in the 1930s and a film
was built around a Shakespearean scenario. Planchn's work
and inspiration during the 1970s were basically derived from
his experimentation in the 1960s.
Ariane Mnouchkine has been active in the theater since
the early 1960s. Her troupe, the Theatre du Soleil, first
became well known with its production of Arnold Wesker's
Michel Corvin, "Illusions scnique et illusions
thtrales sur la mise en scene contemporaine," Stanford
French Review, 3, 2 (Fall 1979), 153.

192
play La Cuisine in 1967. Concentrating their efforts on
improvisations and collective writing they produced Les
Clowns at the Theatre de la Commune at Aubervilliers. The
next year they staged 1879: La Revolution doit s'arrter
la perfection du bonheur, Saint-Just which was followed in
1972 by a second part entitled 1873: La Cit rvolutionaire
est de ce monde. More recently, in July 1979, the Thtre
du Soleil staged a four-hour play about art and power based
on an adaption of Klaus Mann's novel Mephisto (1938) about
the German actor Gustav Grndgens. According to Michael
Kustow, this play presented current dilemmas of the French
5
stage through the prism of Weimar and Nazi Germany.
Mnouckine's conception of popular theater can be considered
to follow the tradition of Jean Vilar and Roger Planchn.
Examples of younger theater companies active in France
using social and political themes related to the 1960s are
the Thtre Action de Grenoble, the Thtre Populaire de
6
Lorraine, and the Thtre Eclat d'Annecy. In 1979 the
Thtre Action de Grenoble produced collectively La Femme
aux ciseaux on the specific issues of contraception, abor
tion, and woman's condition in society. During the spec
tacle several of the woman's previous encounters with
Michael Kustow, "French Theatre: Images of Weimar,"
New Statesman, 98, 2522 (July 20, 1979), p. 103.
g
Frangoise Kourilsky and Lenora Champagne, "Political
Theatre in France since 1968," Drama Review, 19, 2
(June 1975), 45-47.

193
doctors were reenacted. A huge prop of a woman's opened legs
sculptured in wood was the main set design. The Theatre
Populaire de Lorraine used elements of contemporary mass-
media in its parable Le Retour du Graully (1979) about the
capitalist-imperialist aid to underdeveloped nations being
used to repair damage caused by imperialistic policies in
the first place. And, the Theatre Eclat d'Annecy analyzed
Brechtian methods in order to use them in the staging of
the play Soldats by Carlos Reyes. This play, staged in
1979, is about banana workers on strike in Columbia in 1928.
Since the 1960s Andr Benedetto's troupe has been work
ing to create theater for le peuple. His Nouvelle Compagnie
d'Avignon tries to include contemporary aspects and pro
blems of our society in their productions and calls for
popular theater from the people. After 1968 Benedetto's
troupe involved spectators in the process of creation and
production. After several months of collaboration his
troupe and the inhabitants of the city Montauban performed
the play Le Siege de Montauban (1974). This play was in the
tradition of carnivals and popular fairs, with several per
formance areas used simultaneously. Benedetto described his
role as that of a public writer, a term Gatti also used to
describe himself in the late 1970s.
Armand Gatti is unique as a French playwright active in
the popular theater movement. Because he has had problems
producing his plays in state-subsidized theater in France
since 1968 < he has redirected his efforts toward other

194
activities. He has attempted various experiments in what
he calls "collective writing" with nontheater people.
These projects include the theater and video films, some of
which have been aired on French Television.
In 1970 Gatti wrote a play which was read to many dif
ferent groups around France. The comments of those who
listened to the play were incorporated in the second writing
of the play entitled Le Chat Sauvage. It has not been pub-
7
lished. In 1974, Gatti attempted a more radical type of
collective writing in the Brabant Wallon, a rural area of
Belgium. He and a group of students from the Institut des
Arts de Diffusion of Louvain spent several months in villages
g
in the area. The idea was to establish relations with the
local people and then let them express themselves. Com
mittees of peasants, of old people, and of teenagers were
set up to write and rehearse sketches and musical comedies.
All this work culminated in a twenty-eight hour show with
3,000 persons in the area participating in some way in the
production. The performance area was composed of 125
vehicles, among them several tractors with platforms, which
traveled over twenty-five miles' during the course of the
performance. Different sketches were performed simultaneously.
7
Ministre des Relations Extrieures Cellule d'Ani
mation Audio-Visuelle, Armand Gatti: une retrospective (Paris:
ANALEPH, 1981). An updated bibliography of Gatti's theater
and film activities is found on pp. 32-33.
8
Kourilsky and Champagne, p. 44.

195
They were all part of collective writing and depicted dif
ferent ways of seeing the voyage of the peasant Adelin. The
people of the Community expressed themselves as did also
Gatti's group which built a show around the different reali
ties of characters from various villages.
Describing Gatti as a journalist of the theater, Jean
Duvignaud mentioned the Brabant Wallon project when summar
izing Gatti's activities in the following way:
Le seul dramaturge peut-tre qui ait aujourd'hui
compris les exigences d'une recherche pour laquelle
n'existe aucune esthtique (mais les esthtiques
viennent gnralement aprs les crateurs) est
Armand Gatti: lui seul parait avoir boulevers
assez compltement le texte thtral et le travail
de groupe au point d'entreprendre une sorte d'action/
agitation culturelle permanente. Depuis l'anne 1954
o il assiste 1'occasion d'un reportage l'crase-
ment de la revolution du Guatemala par des mercenaires
pays par "1'United Fruit" et qui lui fait crire
Le Quetzal; jusqu'aux toutes rcentes animations de
villages en Belgique en 1973, le chemin de Gatti
n'est pas celui d'un crivain qui mesure lentement
ses effets mais d'un journaliste du thtre qui
ralise compltement le voeu de Barthes d'une analyse
critique de la ralit. Cette oeuvre de contestation
se compose d'anne en anne selon le droulement des
vnements dans le monde, s'emparant ici et l de
tout ce qui peut servir l'efficacit dramatique
'une demarche qui cherche avant tout dnoncer une
situation.
During 1975 Gatti worked with high school students in
the CES (Classe de 1'Enseignement Secondaire) Jean-Lurgat
de Ris-Orangis. For a number of weeks he and his troupe
Jean Duvignaud et" Jean Lagoutte, Le Thtre con-
temporaine: culture :eti contre-culture (Paris: Larousse,
1974), pp. 200-01.

196
initiated activities related to theater.^ They set up
classes in mask-making, in marionnette construction, and
in scenario writing. The purpose of their visit was to
create a play with everyone in the school taking part. The
participants were encouraged to write plays which corres
ponded to their particular age and background. At the
school Gatti and his "Tribu" prepared a work in which two
journalists, who actually played their own roles, took part
in the work Vingt-Quatre Heures de la vie d'un page. The
play was later published as Le Joint (Editions IKMMAD, 1977).
During the same year Gatti tried using video film in
a project. Le Lion, sa cage et ses ailes was filmed on
video equipment at Monbliard-Socaux, the second largest
concentration of workersmany of them foreignersin France.^
Under the direction of Gatti and his group thirty scenarios
were created. The lion represented the Peugeot factories,
the cage was the working-class district of Monbliard, and
the wings were the minifilms inserted in each film (a film
within a film), as a theoretical reflection on the situation
Claire Devarrieux, "Nous sommes tous des chats
gurilleros," Le Monde, 27 Nov. 1975, p. 15, cols. 1-4.
Armand Gatti: une rtrospective, p. 32. Gattis first
film 1Enclos (1960) dealt with his concentration experience.
Then he filmed El Otro Cristobal (1962) in Cuba in which the
theme of the revolution is poetically transposed. The sub
ject of his third regular film Ubergang ber den Ebro
(Crossing the Ebro), which marked his return to film-making
after an eight-year hiatus, relates a tragic incident in
the life of an emigrant worker from Spain who is living in
the consumer society of West Germany. It was filmed in 1970.

197
of the emigrant worker and his cultural identity. The
video films were made by representatives of different com
munities: Poles, Italians, Moroccans. Each film begins by
showing the everyday activities in these communities.
Gatti's imagination and themes are very evident in the pro
ject described above. Yet workers actually do participate
in the experience of producing films and writing scenarios.
Another video film project was entitled La Premiere
Lettre. In 1978 the inhabitants of the city L'Isle d'Abeau,
near Lyon, collaborated in making video films about a
letter from Roger Rouxel. The letter was written to his
girlfriend Mathilde just before he was shot as a French
resistance fighter during the Second World War. The purpose
of the project was to have present-day inhabitants of the
new city relate their lives to Roger's, thus permitting him
to "live" again for a short period of time. For example,
girls who were being trained to be seamstresses made a huge
wedding dress for Mathilde, and pastry chef apprentices pre
pared a wedding banquet for the one that never took place.
Six television programs were aired in France in July-
August 1979 as a result of this project. The leftist news
paper Liberation ran a series of six interviews with Gatti
12
to coincide with the airing of the six video film programs.
As with most of Gatti's projects since May 1968, the
Marc Kravetz, "Dialogue avec Armand Gatti,"
Liberation, July 16-21, 1979.

198
information about this one appeared in newspaper articles
which describe what occurred without providing a critical
review of the project. Apparently the people most interested
are those who directly take part in the experience.
Gatti's video film projects can be viewed as an exten
sion of his experimentation in popular theater. The German
critic Ernst Wendt noted in 1966 similarities between the
techniques Gatti used in his plays and those used' in contem-
13
porary films. He thought Gatti, using techniques evolved
from Brecht's ideas, was able to render on the stage what
films do through picture symbols, jump cuts, fnixing and
montage. Gatti's plays, like films, could show preconceived
'images, constructed images, to make the meaning of the text
clear. Wendt also saw similarities between Gatti'splay
Auguste G. and Godard's film Le Petit Soldat (1960). The
latter dealt with the Algerian war at a personal level and
at a political level. Godard called the film a kind of
autocritique, since it showed his confused state of mind
about the rights and wrongs involved' in the war. Whereas
Godard tried to understand a political question by using a
film, Gatti used a play to present Auguste's confused state
of mind concerning his life at the personal level and at the
political level.
13
Beispiel
Ernst Wendt,
," Akzente,
"Was da kommt, was schon ist:
3 (June 1966), p. 226.
Gatti zum

199
Other similarities exist between Godard's experiments
and themes and Gatti's. Godard uses parallels, juxtaposi
tion, contrasts, counterpoint and films within films to
express his themestechniques which Gatti also uses. Both
authors are concerned with a critical view of and for
society, with particular interest focused on the spectator's
viewpoint. And, structural elements are used to communicate
political themes and intellectual trends.
Influenced by Brecht's and Althusser's theories,
Godard has chosen to question the existing set of produc
tion relations: the financing of films, the methods of pro
duction and distribution, and the organization of sounds and
images which composes the films themselves. He tries to
analyze what relations are at work in the production process
in order to question how it is possible to make films polit
ically instead of making political films. In the 1970s both
Gatti and Godard, working outside the established distribu
tion system, made video films which were aired on French
television. During the 1970s, a radical critique of society
appeared more often in films and film reviews than in French
theater. The similarities between Godard's and Gatti's in
tentions and experimentation, however, result most likely
from the political and intellectual climate discussed pre
viously. Godard's experimentation is based on complex
theoretical analyses whereas Gatti's expression is largely
based on his personal experiences.

200
During the mid-1970s Gatti did manage to stage a few
plays in France. In 1974 La Tribu des Carcanas en guerre
contre quoi? (Seuil, 1975) was presented at the Thtre
Ouvert at Avignon during the summer festival. In March 1976
Gatti presented in a private theater La Passion du general
Franco par les emigres eux-memes, an updated version of the
play banned in December 1968. And, in 1977 Gatti's play
Le Cheval qui se suicide par le feu (1977, Editions IRMMAD)
was presented at the Thtre Ouvert at Avignon during the
summer festival of 1977.
In the projects which Gatti has undertaken since 1970,
whether video films or plays, his constant themes and
techniques of distanciation are used even though the parti
cipation of the spectator is developed further. The "col
lective" work of Gatti's "Tribu" with communities, school
groups, or workers is definitively guided by Gatti's inspir
ation. The methods of work, means of expression, themes
developed and techniques used are Gatti's. This apparent
contradiction is elucidated by Gatti's definition of collec
tive writing.^ Gatti's idea of collective writing is one
plus one plus one, that is different creations of! individuals
who work together because they are motivated by the same
purpose. His contribution is to write the texts. Each
member contributing individually makes the whole project
14
Marc Kravetz
Liberation, July 21,
"Dialogue avec Armand Gatti
1979, col. 6, p. 13.
II

201
possible. Gatti refers to himself as a public writer and
¡
says his experiments have nothing to do with animation
15
culturelle. He considers such cultural activities to
be paid for and controlled by state officials or other
administrators such as mayors who use them to stay in power.
|
Rather than creating unanimity, his group seeks to point up
contradictions within a community. Therefore, the ideas
related to the purpose of the theater and cultural action,
which appeared to be silenced in the aftermath of May 1968,
i
subsist in France.
Gatti's activities in the 1970s should be viewed as an
I
extension of the popular theater movement of the 1960s. At
!
the same time, we must realize that the term popular theater
is no longer used. In order to understand French cultural
!
policies and the circumstances of political trends in the
j
French theater in the 1980s, it is essential to be aware of
the theater experimentation in the 1960s, the influence of
Brecht, and the plays of Gatti as discussed in this study.
i
In France under de Gaulle limits were put on political
debate and attention was diverted to arguments over the arts.
Since the normal avenues of political action and protest
were not functioning and an absence of debates of political
parties existed, French intellectuals used verbal criti
cism as a substitute for political action. They transferred
Kravetz, Liberation, July 21, 1979, col. 6, p. 13.
15

202
energies to arguments about culture, particularly theater,
since the real political situation in France demanded atten
tion to crises and changes in the real world.
The serious theater in Paris set the Brechtians against
the theater of the absurd. The theater directors Jean Vilar
and Roger Planchn because of their participation in the
popular theater movement were considered to belong to the
Brechtian orbit. Jean-Louis Barrault, at the Theatre de
France, came to be the embodiment of Gaullism in the theater
He may have tried to vindicate himself by participation, in
1968, in the occupation of the Odon for which Malraux fired
him.
New interpretations of Marx and Freud, supporting or
opposing the use of structuralist methodology, emerged as
dominant trends in philosophy and literary criticism in the
1960s. The Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser directed
attention toward structural elements in Brecht's plays,
while the Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre influenced
by new leftist Freudian ideas called for the liberation of
the creative possibilities of the individual in order to
permit him to regain a certain control over his daily life.
In their works, both philosophers provide critical analyses
of the notions of class struggle, cultural or urban revolu
tion, history, and ideologies. Their works indirectly influ
enced experiments in the popular theater movement in the
1960s in relation to the structures, techniques and themes
used. Fragmented struggles in the society were paralleled

203
by techniques which fragmented the theatrical text and the
presentation.
Writers connected with the popular theater searched
for new theatrical formats and experimented with different
styles of presentation. Almost all abandoned the division
of plays into acts and scenes, usually preferring tableau
sequences. A good deal of their experimentation was purely
technical. Staging devices such as films, posters, lumi
nous signs, blinking lights, audio-visual devices, press
communiques projected on a screen, tape recordings, loud
speakers or megaphones were used. These techniques had
been used by Brecht and other playwrights in the 1920s and
1930s also for political purposes.
The popular theater dramatist Armand Gatti uses modern
techniques of stage production, imitation of cinema tech
niques and fragmented chronology to project his themes.
He writes to try -to change the world and his intent is
always political. In Gatti's plays distanciation works
through exaggeration, antithesis, criticism, and the juxta
posing of serious, poetic, grotesque, fantastic or humorous
elements. Taken individually such techniques are not new.
Gatti's abundant use of such interruptions in the text,
however, have worked to change the conventions of language
and settings in the theater. His increased emphasis on
actor and spectator participation as well as improvisation
makes him one of the most radical practitioners of the
current return to a more spontaneous, political theatrical
ity.

204
Techniques of distanciation, set designs, and props
are successfully integrated into the presentation of Gatti's
themes. Theater as theater often appears as a theme which
is used to help^ the spectator form a critical view of
what is being presented. Other recurring themes of Gatti
are justice for the underdog; politization of women; support
for revolutionary struggles for national independence in
the Third World; rewriting of history from the viewpoint of
workers or guerrilla fighters; criticism of big business,
consumer society, and pseudo-universal ideologies; cultural
identity; and codirection of all concerned in cultural acti
vities and in decisions related to social problems. All
these themes are related to current intellectual and polit
ical trends in France.
In France of the 1980s, the Socialist regime of
Frangois Mittrand has launched its own "cultural revolu
tion," purportedly to spread culture to the masses to end
the image of the arts in France as serving mainly the
16
elite. Paris is to become once again the world cultural
capital it was in the 1920s and 1930s when theater and lit
erature flourished. Apparently like the critics Bablet and
Jacquot, the Minister of Culture Jack Lang prefers to com
pare the present-day events in France to the 1920s and
1930s rather than to the events of the 1960s. Yet the
Alie, M.sby^ "French Culture undergoing sweeping
Changes," The San Juan Star, 20 April 1982, p. 5, cols. 1-3.

205
ideas of the 1960s do reappear in the Socialists' cultural
program, and to fully understand the cultural policies one
must have knowledge of the political trends discussed in
this study in relation to French theater.
The new Minister of Culture sent the Comdie Frangaise
to perform 19th century classic plays in the subway. He
plans to have the state build cultural palaces to reduce
the inequalities of culture by bringing more people to the
theaters. A "popular opera" house will be built in Bastille
square, the site of the 1789 revolution. An Arab Culture
Center, sponsored by fourteen Arab states, will appear in
the Latin Quarter. A museum of 1890-1915 art, an important
period for Socialists, is being built as is also a science
museum and park. The latter is to be built on the periphery
of Paris with areas for sports, picture painting, and gar
dens to plant things. Paris ready-to-wear designers will
be invited to stage fashion shows in the Louvre for world
buyers.
To revive cultural activities Lang plans to open new
art schools staffed by artistic counselors; spend ten times
more than usual funds to buy art for French museums; use
state money to subsidize artists, publishers of art books
and magazines, expositions, and radio-TV art programs; open
popular music centers all over France, enlarge music educa
tion in schools; open a ballet school in Marseille, a
dance conservatory in Lyon, a state dance school in Paris,
and revive folk dancing in schools. In addition. Lang

206
hopes to popularize literature through price controls on
books and by opening more public libraries. Any mention of
popular theater is conspicuously lacking in the Socialist
program. It is very probable, however, that Socialist
government officials will run into controversies similar
to those experienced by the Gaullists and their cultural
policy.
Since Gatti*s activities and ideas reflect in some
respects the Socialist tradition in France, it is not sur
prising that the audio-visual section of the Ministry of
External Affairs, the new name of the Foreign Ministry, has
17
published a retrospective of Gatti's activities recently.
It is reasonable to assume that he may receive more state
funds to subsidize some of his projects. Nevertheless, it
is unlikely that Gatti will become institutionalized by the
Socialist regime. Along with Socialist ideas he has always
exemplified the strong anarchistic trait present in France
since the beginning of this century. He will most likely
continue to authentically represent the half of France not
usually heard from by treating themes dealing with global
problems in terms of political issues on the level of indi
viduals in their daily lives.
Ministre des Relations Extrieures Cellule
d'Animation Audio-Visuelle. Armahd Gatti; Une' Rtrospec-
tive, 1981.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski was born 18 March 1943 in
Midland, Michigan. She completed a bachelor's degree in
1965 in German at the University of Michigan after spending
her junior year abroad in Munich, Germany. During 1968-1969
she attended courses at the Sorbonne in Paris while enrolled
at the University of Illinois. The following year she com
pleted a master's degree in French at the University of
Illinois. In October 1982 she submitted her dissertation on
the subject of "Armand Gatti and Political Trends in French
Theater under de Gaulle (1958-1968)" to the University of
Florida and she received a Ph.D. in Romance Languages and
Literatures with German as her minor area of study in Decem
ber of the same year.
Her teaching experience includes having taught lower-
division courses in German as an instructor at the Univer
sity of South Florida (1971-1973), and numerous under
graduate courses in French as a teaching assistant at the
University of Illinois (1969-1970), and at the University of
Florida (1973-1974; 1981); and, as an instructor at the
University of South Florida (1971-1973) and New Mexico State
University (1979).
Her interests are contemporary German and French liter
ature, and theater techniques and interpretation.
214

I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Raymond Gay-Crosier, Chairman
Professor of Romance Languages
and Literatures
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Distinguished Service Professor
of Romance Languages and
Literatures
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Hal H. Rennert
Assistant Professor of
Germanic and Slavic Languages
and Literatures
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate
Faculty of the Department of Romance Languages and Liter
atures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to
the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfill
ment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philo
sophy .
December 1982
Dean for Graduate Studies
and Research



150
Vastadour-Vanzetti says to the Presse-Coiranutateur who
places the electrodes on his legs:
S'il y avait un Dieu, il ne pourrait avoir piti
des eunuques qui se font les larbins de la mort.
Mon seal dsir, c'etait de mourir debout au milieu
de mes semblableset voil quoi j'ai droit [&
des tres tels que vous]. Le pire, c'est qu'
toutes les poques vous aurez vos pareils Que vos
mains ignobles ne me touchent plus [elles sont cou-
vertes de la crasse des matres que vous servez].
(p. 164)
During the trial scenes earlier in the play the Presse-
Commutteur(a man) and the Officiante de la Mort (a woman)
speak from their seats in the real audience with a pro
jector on them. Each time a different false witness is
called to testify these two appear, one or the other depend
ing upon whether the witness is a man or a woman. The pro
jector searches them out on the stage or in the audience
since they always testify from a new location.
Lighting is also effectively used as a technique in
other parts of the play. Boschetto, the spectator-
journalist in Turin, plays the role of the journalist at
the execution. He describes how the lights will dim when
all the electric current in the prison will be directed
toward the electric chair. After he speaks the lights in
the theater are lowered three times in a row. When the
execution actually does take place, the lights go out
and the journalist, during the interval of darkness, takes
a seat in the audience and becomes a spectator like the
actual spectators in the theater.


57
The perspective of Wilhelm Reich and others found its
most important postwar voice in the French review Socialisme
ou Barbarie. The new left's interest in the ideas of the
1930s updated to our time includes the impact of automation
and cybernation, which transform the relations between
worker and machine and the nature of administration and
knowledge of production; the growth of cities and the urban
ization of the countryside; the disappearance of the peasant
or the independent farmer class in the industrial countries;
and the radicalization of the peasantry in the Third World.
Along with these processes accompanying the transition from
competitive capitalism into state capitalism there is a
second revolution in the sphere of everyday life.'*' Charac
teristics of this transformation are the dissolution of
the patriarchal family, the emancipation of youth and women,
the liberation of sexuality, increased leisure, consumption,
and the education of the proletarian masses.
An important element for the new left in this trans
formation of society is the idea of a fragmented struggle.
Reich formulated in the 1930s that class contradiction
expresses itself in actual class struggle indirectly.^
Revolutionary struggle is diffuse as well as specifically
directed. It is expressed throughout the various cultural
spheres and institutional contexts in specific conflicts
10
Brown,
pp.
149-50;
178-79
11
Brown,
pp.
135-36;
143.


62
a number of repressive apparatuses (the police, the army) to
maintain the control of the dominant class. Althusser's
originality was to postulate that ideological state appara
tuses maintained the dominance of the ruling class through
noncoercive means by producing subjects willing to repro
duce the relations of production. He considered the two
most important state apparatuses in the cultural struggle to
be education and the family.
Viewed by Althusser, the Marxist totality is a com
plex unity of separate and specific levels which may be
relatively autonomous of each other within a given historical
social formation. The essential point is that the Marxist
totality is not to be understood as a simple dialectic of
essence (the economic base) versus the phenomena (the super
structure) where the latter is reducible to the former, but
as a complex internally structured totality of various
layers and levels interrelated in all sorts of relations of
16
determination. The totality is asymmetrical and may be
dominated by one of its elements.
Althusser's interpretation of history illustrates well
his concept of the Marxist totality. According to him,
history can be given content only by defining historical
time as a specific form of existence of a social totality
with structural levels of different temporalities in
Miriam Glucksmann, Structuralist Analysis in Contem
porary Social Thought; A Comparison of the Theories of
Claude Lvi-Strauss and Louis Althusser (London; Routledge
and Kegan Paul), 1974), p. 107.


8
have a Child) is viewed as a social experiment on the stage
where love and sex are examined.'*' The protagonist Milda
embodies the problem of a new organization of sex and
instinct. Concerned about the "production" of intelligent
children, Milda wants to have a child without being emotion
ally involved with the father. Her behavior is contrasted
with the jealous behavior of the more human Lipa, whose
husband Milda uses for her personal goal. Milda's behavior
in the play is presented as a social problem that the spec
tators are called upon to consider. After nurseries are
built, a project of Milda, the Mildas will disappear. And,
the Lipas will evolve into a new form of woman of which the
spectator is not yet aware, but which will be the result of
his participation in social changes in the society.
Brecht adopted Tretiakov's play about Milda for the
German stage and Meyerhold, although he was unable to stage
the play because it was banned, rehearsed it from 1927 to
1930. Tretiakov, a poet, playwright and journalist, worked
with Meyerhold as a dramatist and with Shklovsky as an
editor of the review Lef. Brecht discussed the literary
term priem ostraneniga(making strange) with Tretiakov in
connection with the acting technique of the Chinese actor
Mei-Lang-Fang, who gave a demonstration of his technique in
Fritz Mierau, Erfindung und Korrektur; Tretjakow,
Aesthetik der Operativitat (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1976),
p. 17.


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate
Council of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
ARMAND GATTI AND POLITICAL TRENDS IN FRENCH
THEATER UNDER DE GAULLE (1958-1978)
By
Bonnie Laurie Pytlinski
December 1982
Chairman: Dr. Raymond Gay-Crosier
Major Department: Romance Languages and Literatures
The playwright Armand Gatti was an innovator in the
French theater during the period 1958-1968. In this study
four of his plays produced in the 1960s are discussed:
La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur Auguste G., Chant public
devant deux chaises lectriques, V comme Vietnam, and Les
Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise. These four major
plays illustrate a theater which sought to be more respon
sive to events and problems in French society. They are
studied within the framework of developments in popular
theater, the influence of Brecht, the emergence of a new
left and other political groups, and Gaullist cultural
policies.
It is shown that the ideas of the Marxist philosophers
Henri Lefebvre (the possibilities of the individual, urban
vu


26
The critic Bernard Dort was mainly concerned with the
social and historical approach as the style principle for
4
the structure of Brecht's drama. In his Lecture de Brecht
(1960) he explored the structure of Brecht's work and sys
tem and emphasized his conception of the world and man as
realities which are changeable. He saw this as the newness
of Brecht's drama in contrast to classical theater in which
the world and man are shown as unchangeable. Dort's
interest in the epic realism of Brecht's work was also a
sign of an increasing interest in realism in French theater
in the 1960s. Roland Barthes regarded Brecht's theater as
Marxist theater constructed on the basis of dialectic and
5
historical materialism. Andr Gisselbrecht believed it
illustrated that the class struggle prevented goodness by
showing the connection and dependence of morals on the
capitalistic economic system. He also thought Brecht
pointed toward the reasoning that the only way out for the
spectator is a revolutionary struggle founded on the know
ledge of the laws of the society.
In 1957 Roger Planchn was the first director to stage
Arthur Adamov's Paolo Paoli, a social critical drama dealing
with the First World War and the economic relationship
Hiifner, p. 57 cites Dort Thtre Populaire 11, 1955,
p. 29.
5
Hiifner, pp. 134; 136-38.


CHAPTER IX
POPULAR THEATER AFTER MAY 1968
Writing in 1969, Emile Copfermann stated the popular
theater which had done the most to promote Brecht was vacil
lating in uncertainty.^- He noted the tendency to stage
Brecht's plays in France by ignoring the political parts, by
presenting them as historical, plays from another era. He
felt two productions contradicted this trend: one by the
Living Theater and one by Jean-Pierre Vincents troupe at
Chalon-sur-Sane. The first one turned away from Brecht and
developed an apocalyptic and messianic style through tech
niques of aggression upon the spectator; the second one
respected the structure and practice of Brecht's didactic
play. Copfermann predicted that the spectacular forain,^ ,
simple, direct, less artistic, would prevail in the theater
of the 1970s. It is true that attention in the 1970s was
turned toward improvisations, collective works, the specta
cular. Also, in some instances, theater groups did inter
prete plays by adopting a Brechtian didactic method of
staging. The political and social elements in such plays,
Emile Copfermann, "La Rsistible Dcouverte du thtre
de Monsieur Bertolt Brecht en France," Les Lettres Frangaises,
1276 (26 May 2 Apr. 1969), pp. 14-15.
189


VII 1962-1966: LA VIE IMAGINAIRE DE L1EBOUEUR
AUGUSTE G. AND CHANT PUBLIC DEVANT DEUX
CHAISES ELECTRIQUES 122
VIII 1966-1968: V COMME VIETNAM AND LES TREIZE
SOLEILS DE LA RUE SAINT-BLAISE. ... 156
IX POPULAR THEATER AFTER MAY 1968 189
BIBLIOGRAPHY 210
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 214
vi


41
theater and in the present-day English theater. He strongly
believes that along with serious, committed work there must
be irresponsibility. He views the gaiety on which this
theater feeds as the same energy that produces rebellion
and opposition. The wish to change society and to get it to
confront eternal hypocrises can be dealt with through such
characters as Falstaff and Tartuffe, who provide the author
with a means to attack and criticize through laughter.
In the early 1960s Roger Planchn's troupe pieced
together a play which they entitled Les Trois Mousquetaires
in the "rough" spirit that Brook defined in 1969. Dumas'
novel was simply used as a framework. The authors and
directors of that era/ Brecht, Claudel, Vilar, Barrault and
Planchn himself (particularly their styles of directing),
were pitted against one another in a satiric manner. Fol
lowing May 1968, Planchn's troupe staged "La Contestion
et la Mise en Pieces de la plus illustre des tragedies fran-
gaises Le Cid de Pierre Corneille, suivie d'une "cruelle"
mise a mort de 1'Auteur dramatique et d'une distribution
gracieuse de diverses conserves culturelles." In this
collective work inspired by Planchn the problems of con
temporary theater are parodied (Hair as well as Arrabal,
Grotowski, and maisons de la culture ). May 1968 is com
memorated by a ballet with large black flags and red flags,
and graffiti. Rene Saurel commenting on the play describes


64
18
effects. In this article Althusser speaks of a latent
asymmetrical-critical structure in Brecht's plays Mother
Courage and Galileo. The dynamic force of this latent
structure, which consists of the coexistence without any
explicit relation of a dialectical temporality and a non-
dialectical temporality, is the basis for a critique of the
illusions of consciousness. In Mother Courage, the war is
opposed to the personal tragedies of her blindness; in
Galileo, history is slower than consciousness impatient for
the truth. The silent confrontation of a consciousness with
a reality which is indifferent makes possible a critique of
the illusions of consciousness. According to Althusser, it
is not the dialogue of the play which produces this critique,
but the internal balances and imbalances of forces between
the elements of the play's structure.
Althusser thinks consciousness does not accede to
reality through its own internal development, but through
19
the discovery of what is other than itself. For this
reason be believes Brecht overcame a problematic aspect of
the classical theater when he excluded any pretentions to
self-recovery and self-representation in the consciousness
of self in a hero. Classical theater was inclined to
Louis Althusser, "Le Piccolo Bertolazzi et Brecht:
notes sur un theatre matrialiste," in Pour Marx (Paris:
Maspero, 1965), p. 142, 145-48.
19
Althusser, Pour Marx, p. 144


213
Viansson-Pont, Pierre. Histoire de la Rpublique qaul-
lienne. Vol. II Le~Temps des orphelins; aot 1962 -
avril 1969. Paris: Fayard, 1971
Wagner, Jean. "Notes sur le thtre d'Armand Gatti."
Nouvelle Critique, 175 (1966), pp. 42-57.
Ward, Margaret Ellen. Peter Weiss, Rolf Hochhuth, Armand
Gatti: The Interaction between Intent, Content, and
Form in Contemporary Political Drama. Doctoral Disser
tation Indiana Univ. 1974.
Wendt, Ernst. "Was da kommt, was schon ist: Gatti zum
Beispiel." Akzente, 3 (June 1966), pp. 222-224.
Williams, Philip M. and Martin Harrison. Politics and
Society in De Gaulle* s Pvepublic. Garden City, N.Y.:
Anchor Books, 1973.
Williams, Philip M. with David Goldey and Martin Harrison.
French Politicians and Elections 1951-1969. Cambridge,
England: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1970.


209
Duvignaud, Jean and Jean Lagoutte. Le Thtre contemporain:
Culture et contre-culture. Paris: Larousse, 1974.
Esslin, Martin. An Anatomy of Drama. New York: Hill and
Wang, 1977.
Fitch, Andrew. "A Fusion Avant-Garde?" Drama Survey.
5, 1 (spring 1966), 53-59.
Frisch, Jack E. "Public and private worlds in Drama."
Drama Survey, 7, 1 and 2 (winter 1968-69), 149-153.
Gaudibert, Pierre. Action culturelle, intgration et/ou
subversion. Paris: Casterman, 1972.
Gelbard, Peter. "Theater in Paris, Spring and Fall, 1964."
Drama Survey, 4, 1 (spring 1965), 65-70.
Glucksmann, Miriam. Structuralist Analysis in Contemporary
Social Thought: A Comparison of the Theories of Claude
Lvi-Strauss and Louis Althusser. London: Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1974.
Gozlan, Gerard and Jean-Louis Pays. Gatti aujourd'hui.
Paris: Seuil, 1970.
Gramsci, Antonio. "Socialism and Culture." In Antonio
Gramsci: Selections from Political Writings 1910-1929.
Trans. John Mathews. New York: International Publisher,
1977, pp. 12-15.
Hildenbrand, Werner. "Theater und Revolution in Frankreich."
Theater Heute, 7 (July 1968), pp. 3-4.
Holland, Norman, N., "Recent Drama Criticism: Bathtubs in
the Nose." The Hudson Review, 17, 4 (winter 1964),
619-626.
Hoover, Marjorie L. Meyerhold: The Art of Conscious Theater.
Amherst: Univ. of Mass. Press, 1974.
Hfner, Agnes. Brecht in Frankreich 1930-1963: Verbreitung,
Aufnahme, Wirkung. Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlerischer, T^s.
Jacquot, Jean. "Vers un thtre du peuple." Etudes
Anglaises, 2 (Apr.-June 1969), pp. 216-2477
Jacquot, Jean Jed.]. Les Voies de la cration thtrale.
VI Vols. Paris: E. CNRS, 1971-1980.
Jameson, Fredric. The Prison House of Language: A Critical
Account of Structuralism and Russian Formalism.
Princeton,New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press, T972.


160
he was writing V comme Vietnam he thought the theater was
capable of showing the spectator that he has the capacity
to act. For him the ideal spectator is the one who accepts
both the political and esthetic elements of a play and then
takes action in the direction indicated by the play. Gatti,
like Benjamin, states that both esthetic and political ele
ments are equally important in order for a literary text to
be politically effective. In addition for Gatti, as for
Brecht, the spectator's coming-to-consciousness with regard
to his true situation is am important function of theater.
Gatti expresses this idea when he states: "II faut que le
theatre permette aux classes les plus dshrites de prendre
4
conscience de leurs forces et, en meme temps, de se compter."
By becoming aware of his situation, the worker will be able
to go beyond his situation as a worker. Gatti's state
ments about the theater and his plays become more directly
political in 1967 which is not surprising considering the
general political unrest in France prior to the manifesta
tions of May 1968.
The Grenier de Toulouse first produced V comme Vietnam
in April 1967. The setting of the play is the Pentagon,
in particular the room in which the world's largest computer
referred to as chtaigne, is kept. For Gatti, the basic
issue of the Vietnamese conflict is the opposed conceptions
of the world, not in the ideological sense, as much as in
4
Gatti,
"Notes au spectateur," p. 22.


43
actor in our times has a new social role. He has been
elevated to the level of a creator, since he is not only
an interpretor but also an inventor who creates the forms
of live participation. This trend is associated with the
liberation of the theater through new techniques and the
appearance of new audiences. An actor in the theater or in
films is often a metteur en scene, and his being an actor
has an influence on how dramatic works will be interpreted.
Although he is seldom an author, he sometimes participates
in collective writing and does assume most of the other
activities involved in the practice of theater. In the
comtemporary society the actor has also taken on the symbols
of politics and engagement.
Odette Aslan, basing most of her remarks on Brechts
theoretical works Schriften zum Theater (Writings on
Theater), defines a committed and politically engaged actor
as a Brechtian actor who is part of a theater group having
25
a political objective. He therefore studies all the
aspects of the proposed situation in a play by interrogating
himself and formulating his objections. To create the dis-
tanciation needed to discover the various aspects of a role,
roles are not distributed in function of the physical aspects
of the actors, during rehearsals actors exchange roles, and
sometimes roles are ridiculed by comic actors. This
25
Odette Aslan,
technique, problme d'thique
L'Acteur au XX
(Paris
sicle: Evolution de la
Seghers, 1974) p. 162.


125
suspicions about his wife's relationship with Gamache, his
humiliation at using his thumb print to sign a new contract
won by the workers, and his hopes in his son whom he imag
ines will make a film about his life.'1'
Fantastic and realistic elements are intermingled in
the remembered or imagined occurrences of Auguste's inner
life. In the marathon dance episodes normal people dance
with animals (bear, horse), with objects (a wheelbarrow
with a flower pot in it, a machine), with persons of the
same sex, or with persons of the opposite sex who create
strange couples (a pimp and an innocent girl, a nun and an
irate father). The orchestra playing for the marathon dance
is composed of members of the CRS (Compagnie rpublicaine
de scurit) police force. This mixture of real events
(the marathon dance) and fantasy (animals and machines as
dance partners) permits Gatti to present in humorous, exag
gerated action a critical view of a repressive society
where the White Baron and CRS are in charge. The spectator
views the events on stage from a critical distance at the
same time as he experiences the inner life of Auguste.
This technique of distanciation is an important structural
element in all of Gatti's plays.
Another technique Gatti uses to create distanciation
is theatrical simultaneity which he explains in relation
Peter Gelbard, "Theater in Paris,
1 (Spring 1965), 66.
It
Drama Survey, 4,


162
*. not the only means to arrive at an understanding of polit
ical reality. Therefore in the second part of the play he
has the computer regurgitate extraneous elements of infor-
mation, including two coffins containing American soldiers.
It thus produces concrete images, real individuals, instead
of merely numbers and it directly links the Pentagon to
p Vietnam. In this way the computer acts as an integral ele
ment in explaining the significance of the play.
The names of U.S. officials in the play are represen
tative of people actually working at the Pentagon at the
time. The secretary of defense is Quadrature (McNamara),
his assistant is Thorme, the head of the psychological
services is called Dr. XXX, and President Johnson is Mega-
sheriff. Quadrature convenes meetings with government offi
cials by having their images appear on television screens
on stage. This technique can be considered as a variation
of Gatti's use of simultaneity. It also exemplifies the
direct involvement of communication methods with their
immediate influence on worldwide events. During the Viet
nam war President Johnson was able to follow battles and
talk to commanders in the field by using modern equipment.
In the play the TV screens display the images of Admiral
Pointu; Bulldog, general of the marines; Pre "la Congrga-
tion, the head army chaplain; and Ventriloque, the ambassa
dor to Saigon.
The action in Vietnam is first linked to that in the
Pentagon when the journalist Weil Junior describes for


2
movement included writing plays, reading them to union
groups, directing productions of his plays, forming a close-
knit theater troupe, interacting with the theater public,
and making statements about the purpose of the theater. His
plays, by their subject matter and form, reflect political
and social themes of the period and thus represent a theater
which sought to be more responsive to events and problems in
the society.
As a young man Gatti lived through the occupation, the
resistance, and the liberation of France during the Second
World War. In the 1950s as a journalist, and in the 1960s
and 1970s as a playwright, he was acutely aware of social
injustice in France and in the Third World. Interested in
history and its relation to present-day events in the world,
Gatti wrote books about Russia, China, and Churchill, and
articles about dictators in Central America. In 1962 he
directed the film El Otro Cristopher (The Other Christopher)
in Cuba before starting to direct the staging of his own
plays in France. His global view whether expressed in books,
articles, films or plays always deals with social problems.
Two important characteristics of Gatti's style in his
works are naivety and optimism. In an interview with
Denis Bablet in 1971 Gatti explained that the theater is a
means for him to try to recapture the wonderful possibility
of invention he felt as a child and the feelings he experi
enced when he joined the Maquis. Concerning the latter he
recalled:


172
Gatti's verse does not have the artistic quality of many of
Brecht's songs which are entities even outside of the text
of a play. Nevertheless this song does def ami-liarize media
images of napalm victims to which many viewers and readers
have become insensitive. It paradokically familiarizes and
defamiliarizes reality as do all effective metaphors.
Gatti creates a contrast between the "dream" characters
of the Vietnamese theater and the five Megasheriffs who
appear on stage simultaneously: one dressed as a Texan and
the others dressed as Shakespearean characters Macbeth,
King Lear, Richard III and Henry V. The Americans view pro
gress in terms of destruction when they create a hameau
stratglque cut of the village of Kien Cuong. Gatti
expresses this idea when Mgasheriff-Richard III states:
"C'est comme l'histoire du touriste de la Gorgie, Robert
Moore qui tlgraphie sa demi-soeur d'Atlanta 'Chicago
brle, la ville entire est en flammes! Dieu soit lou'"
(p. 121). By using a short anecdote in the style of
Johnson, stated by a Shakespearean character, Gatti criti
cizes the outdated American policies. The bloody historical
acts of a Shakespearean king are seen as comparable to the
bloody acts of Johnson. Such an incongruous presentation
permits a critical distance. This technique draws atten
tion to what is said, by whom, and to what purpose. The
spectator has to put the meaning together by comparing
the Shakespearean Mgasheriff with the simple, revolution
ary guerrilla fighter who is creating a new culture and a


139
play about Sacco and Vanzetti does not even exist on stage.
Instead, five groups of spectators in Boston, Hamburg)
Turin, Lyon, and New Orleans relive the long death wait
of Nicole Sacco and Bartholomew Vanzetti, two anarchists
accused of murder.^
The playwright concentrates on the importance of the
role of the "supposed" spectators. For it is their reac
tions on stage which are the subject of the play. Through
their comments about the nonexistent play, these supposed
spectators express opinions which reflect their social
backgrounds. Being spectators, they are to some degree the
doubles of those in the actual audience. Therefore,
through the reactions of the supposed spectators, the real
spectators realize it is their own social, economic, and
political circumstances which dictate their own reactions.
In this way Gatti directs attention toward the social and
political conditions in the actual lives of the audience.
The framework of Chant public includes activities
associated with a theater such as getting tickets, inter
mission, and actors preparing to go on stage. By jumping
from one supposed theater audience to another Gatti creates
a more complex play. Each city presents spectators in
different political situations.
13
After seven years in prison they were executed m
1927 at Charlestown, Massachusetts.


119
play La Deuxime Existence du camp de Tatenberg in Lyon,
a theater in Marseille presented his Le Voyage du grand
Tchou, and the first volume of his theater was published in
West Germany.
After participating in the production of his play
Auguste G. in 1962, Gatti traveled to Cuba where he filmed
El Otro Cristobal (The other Christopher). During the year
of filming in Cuba he wrote the play Chant public devant
deux chaises lectriques. In Cuba during the Cuban Missile
Crisis, Gatti found the same kind of guerrilla fighter he
had known during the French Resistance and had met later in
Guatemala. Such men fought with the instruments of every
day life against an ennemy whose power seemed limitless.
He compared the American ships stationed off Cuba and
armed with nuclear missiles to the poorly armed Cubans
patrolling the shores.
After the experience of directing a film in Cuba,
Gatti returned to France to direct his play Chroniques
d'une planete provisoire at the Grenier de Toulouse. He
then directed a second play there, his Le Poisson noir.
Gatti was very active in the state dramatic centers where
he continued to rehearse, discuss, and read his plays to
audiences, and write and rewrite plays. In 1966 he
directed the production of his play Chant public at the TNP.
In 1967 the Grenier de Toulouse asked Gatti to direct
a new version of his play Chroniques d'une planete provi
soire During the rehearsals a union group (Collectif


83
Etudiants Rvolutionnaires) another smaller Trotskyite
organization and various Maoist groups. The most important
of the latter was the Jeunesse Communiste Marxiste
Lniniste (JCML).
The history of European Maoism was relatively short
lived and ceased to have much meaning by 1974 when La Gauche
Proltarienne, a French Maoist group, dissolved itself.^
Its political significance disappeared with the failure of
the revolutionary movements in the late 1960s in France and
in Italy. When the split between Russia and China occur
red in the early 1960s almost all other Communist parties
split into a pro-Soviet and pro-Chinese faction. In Europe
the pro-Chinese factions left or were expelled and founded
new Communist movements. They showed their allegiance to
Mao's teaching by adopting the adjective Marxist-Leninist
to emphasize their continuity with the original revolution
ary politics of the party. The Sino-Soviet split occurred
because the Chinese refused to accept the Soviet doctrine of
peaceful coexistence. The Chinese viewed this doctrine as
a refusal to face the realities of revolutionary struggle.
They denounced it as a new form of imperialism, social impe
rialism, in which the Russians and Americans split the
world into spheres of influence that they controlled. The
stress on national independence from the superpowers went
together with support for the Third World against the
5
MacCabe, p. 55.


To my husband
Jerzy Teodor Pytlinski


159
a) ceux qui viennent l'acte culturel avec un monde
de references arrtes. Ces rfrences jouent ou
ne jouent pas. Certains ont mme pour unique vcu
ces refrnces, elles deviennent leur vcu rel.
b) ceux qui viennent avec la seule culture qu'ils
possdent, celle de leur quotidien. Ils compren-
nent la piece avec les rfrnces de leur quoti
dien. Chaqu horrarte doit tre en mesure de con
struir sa propre culture, de la construir en
tant qu'auteur, en tant qu'acteur, de la construir
galement, en tant que spectateur.^
During the period in which Gatti wrote V comme Vietnam
he believed that by giving workers culture, that is the
theater, he was giving them a means to fight injustice
through an understanding of their own capabilities. He
expresses this idea in the following statement:
Chaqu spectateur apporte avec lui sa culture, ses
problmes quotidiens; il apporte son tre alin
et comme rtrci par les conditions du prsent; le
but du spectacle est de vaincre ces rsistances
individuelles comme la grande resistance collec
tive et de permettre ainsi la ralisation de ce
que j'appellerai les "possibles" de l'individu.3
To the degree that theater influences a person's social
life Gatti believes it is political in nature. He realizes,
however, that it is not easy to turn a passive spectator
into a person of action and that the theater is not capable
of bringing about a revolution. Nevertheless at the time
Armand Gatti, "Un Thtre pour la cit," La Nef,
29 (Jan.-Mar. 1967), p. 72.
3
Armand Gatti, "Notes au spectateur idal selon Armand
Gatti," Les Lettres Frangaises, 1187 (15-21 June, 1967), p. 22.


27
between the individual and the society. In the same year he
was the first director to stage Michael Vinaver's play
Les Corens; some critics considered this play to be the
first attempt to create a French epic theater. Planchn was
the only French director who was using the style of the
Berliner Ensemble and the theories of Brecht as models for
staging plays.^ One of the first performances characterized
by the Brecht supporters as being Brechtian was Planchn's
Henry IV (1957); George Dandin and La Seconde Surprise de
11 amour followed (1958-1959). For Planchn, realistic drama
such as Shakespeare's, Calderon's or Molire's required a
Brechtian staging, that is one which rendered the social
aspects of the drama prominent.
In 1960 Planchn felt that one could not stage a play
by Brecht without engaging oneself both politically and
esthetically. In order to produce Brecht's plays, a certain
degree of political engagement is necessary. It is for this
reason that Brecht's plays were staged only at the TNP or in
regional theaters. Whether the concept of popular theater
was understood as political theater, as it was by Roger
Planchn, Andr Gisselbrecht, Roland Barthes and Bernard
Dort, or as "thtre pour le peuple" which was not bourgeois
theater, by Jean Dast, Jean Vilar and Alfred Simon, what
was decisive for the success of Brecht in France was the
6
Hfner, pp. 125; 192.


187
Commenting on the political trend in French drama in
reviewing the 1967-1968 theater season, Poirot-Delpech
states that many of the plays produced were prophetic since
characters manifested a desire to move toward action. He
interprets this as a sign that intellectuals of the Left
were impatient and ready to engage in revolutionary action
16
elsewhere, for example in Bolivia. According to him,
Gatti's play Treize Soleils demonstrates a permanent revo
lutionary trend in the spirit of the Commune. Moreover, the
TNP's production of Brecht's La Mere, adapted from Gorki's
novel, and Antoine Vitez's production of Mayakovsky's
Les Bains both foreshadow the events in May during which
red flags would appear at the Odon and the bureaucratic
sclerosis of de Gaulle's administration would be criticized.
In addition, Jack Frisch writing in 1968 notes a
17
general trend m Europe toward political drama. In
Gatti's play V comme Vietnam Frisch sees a direct correla
tion between the play and the public world. This correla
tion does not occur through the author's composition;
instead it is present because Gatti is working with some
thing which specifically exists outside of the play.
Frisch criticizes the overt anti-Americanism expressed in
the play since he believes it detracts from Gatti's ideas.
Poirot-Delpech, "Que demande le peuple," p, 250.
17
Jack E. Frisch, "Public and Private Worlds m
," Drama Survey, 7, 1 and 2 (Winter 1968-1969), 151.
Drama


192
play La Cuisine in 1967. Concentrating their efforts on
improvisations and collective writing they produced Les
Clowns at the Theatre de la Commune at Aubervilliers. The
next year they staged 1879: La Revolution doit s'arrter
la perfection du bonheur, Saint-Just which was followed in
1972 by a second part entitled 1873: La Cit rvolutionaire
est de ce monde. More recently, in July 1979, the Thtre
du Soleil staged a four-hour play about art and power based
on an adaption of Klaus Mann's novel Mephisto (1938) about
the German actor Gustav Grndgens. According to Michael
Kustow, this play presented current dilemmas of the French
5
stage through the prism of Weimar and Nazi Germany.
Mnouckine's conception of popular theater can be considered
to follow the tradition of Jean Vilar and Roger Planchn.
Examples of younger theater companies active in France
using social and political themes related to the 1960s are
the Thtre Action de Grenoble, the Thtre Populaire de
6
Lorraine, and the Thtre Eclat d'Annecy. In 1979 the
Thtre Action de Grenoble produced collectively La Femme
aux ciseaux on the specific issues of contraception, abor
tion, and woman's condition in society. During the spec
tacle several of the woman's previous encounters with
Michael Kustow, "French Theatre: Images of Weimar,"
New Statesman, 98, 2522 (July 20, 1979), p. 103.
g
Frangoise Kourilsky and Lenora Champagne, "Political
Theatre in France since 1968," Drama Review, 19, 2
(June 1975), 45-47.


CHAPTER I
BRECHT: THE LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN AND GERMAN THEATER
IN THE 1920s-1930s AND FRENCH THEATER IN THE 1960s
Armand Gatti's theater activities in the 1960s can be
viewed in relation to ideas in the theater in the 1920s and
1930s in Russia and Germany. Such concerns as social con
sciousness, popular theater, interest in the participation
of the spectator, and a critical view of society recur in a
different context in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the transla
tions in the 1960s of works by Brecht, Piscator, and
Meyerhold point toward such a comparison. It is therefore
helpful to think of Brecht as a link to theater in the 1920s
and 1930s in Russia and Germany for French popular theater
of the 1960s.
The 1920s and 1930s were years of crisis and social
change in Germany and Russia. Brecht was aware of trends in
the theater and in the formalist literary circles in Russia.
Although a thorough study has not been made of the Russian
influence in Brecht's works, it is known that Brecht, through
his friend Sergei Tretiakov, knew about the activities of
Shklovsky, Meyerhold, and Mayakovsky. Tretiakov, a theore
tician of socialist art, attempted to create theater capable
of "operating" in society by creating a socialist public.
His "production" play Teh will ein Kind haben (I Want to
7


140
For example in Hamburg, Vorortzug states: "Cette
histoire d'anarchistes italiens condamns et attendant pen-
14
dant sept ans leur mise h mort, me terrorise." Informa
tion about the Sacco-Vanzetti case is given in relation to
Vorortzug's personal life. He wants to see the play and
yet is terrified by the execution of the two innocent anar
chists because his own son is in jail for political activi
ties. Vorortzug's lawyer Muller, who has accompanied him
to the play, provides a link between past history and the
present events. Muller sees a parallel between the injus
tice of the Sacco and Vanzetti case and the injustice of
the Nuremburg trials. According to him the Nazis, like
Sacco and Vanzetti, wanted to change society and were
wrongly condemned. Muller states: "Qu'est-ce que 1'affaire
Sacco-Vanzetti? De fausse accusations lances pour obtenir
la mort de gens qui voulaient bouleverser le monde'
Ctait dj un avant-got du procs Nuremberg. [Une repe
tition gnrale parmi tant d'autres]" (p. 27). Gatti uses
such a character to illustrate the problem of conflicting
attitudes in present-day society. Muller's attitude demon
strates how individual reactions to a play differ. The
spectator in the actual audience perceives that either the
Right or the Left can distort an event to make it reflect
Armand Gatti, Chant public devant deux chaises
electriques (Paris: Seuil, 1964), p. 24. All quotations in
the text are from this edition.


48
progress. Thus, Gramsci's view of the purpose of culture
connotes political involvement.
In 1922 in Russia, new literary groups sprang up propa
gating ideas in manifestos and pamphlets which proclaimed
2
freedom from the previous culture. Such groups as the agit
prop (agitation and propaganda), the Proletcult (proletarian
culture), the Constructivists, the peasant writers, and the
Formalists prepared the way for a critical view of the
existing society. The Russian Futurists established them
selves in the Commissariat for Popular Education and suc
ceeded for a time in controlling cultural life. Mayakovsky
traveled throughout the country reading poetry in factories.
His Mystery-Bouffe (1918) written for popular festivals is a
mixture of heroic deeds and aggressive buffoonery. It was
staged by Meyerhold on the first anniversary of the Revo
lution. Written just ten years after the Revolution,
Mayakovsky's last works express hatred of the new class of
Communist elite. His satires The Bedbug (1928) and The Bath
(1929) illustrate a Stalinist bureaucracy.
Toward the end of the 1920s the favorable conditions
which had made possible the creative development of art in
the Soviet Union were wiped out. Mayakovsky committed sui
cide in 1930. In 1932 all artists' groups formed during the
Jiirgen Riihle, Literature and Revolution: A Critical
Study of the Writer and Communism in the Twentieth Century,
trans. Jean Steinberg (New York: Frederick A. Prager, 1969)
pp. 3; 5; 14; 18.


210
Klein, Peter-Jrgen. Theater fr den Zuschauer Theater
mit dem Zuschauer: Die Dramen Armand Gattis als Mittel
zur Initierung humanen Verhaltens. Wiesbaden:
Athenaion, 1975.
Knapp, Bettina. "Armand Gatti." In Off-Stage Voices:
Interviews with Modern French Dramatists. Ed. Alba
Amoie. Troy, N.Y.: Whitson, 1975, pp. 205-213.
Knowles, Dorothy. "Introduction: Principles of Staging."
In Forces in Modern French Drama: Studies in Variations
of the Permitted Lie. Ed. John Fletcher. New York:
Frederick Ungar, 1972, pp. 11-32.
. "Michel Parent and Theatrical Experiments in
Simultaneity." Theater Research, 11, 1 (1971), 23-41.
Kott, Jan. Shakespeare our Contemporary. Garden City, N.Y.;
Anchor Books, 1966.
Kourilsky, Frangoise and Lenora Champagne. "Political
Theatre in France since 1968." Drama Review, 19, 2
(June 1975), pp. 43-52.
Kravetz, Marc. "Dialogue avec Armand Gatti," Libration,
July 16-21, 1979.
Kustow, Michael. "French Theatre: Images of Weimar."
New Statesman, 98, 2522 (July 20, 1979), pp. 103.
Lacan, Jacques. "De la jouissance." In Le Sminaire de
Jacques Lacan Livre XX: Encore 1972-1973. Ed.
Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1975, pp. 9-16.
Lacarriere, Jacques. "'La Vie imaginaire de l'boueur
Auguste Geai' d'Armand Gattir m.e.s. Jacques Rosner,
avec le Theatre de la Cit." Theatre Populaire, 54
(1954), pp. 87-89.
Lee, Vera. Quest for a Public: French Popular Theater
since 1945. Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1970.
Lefebvre, Henri. Au-dela du structuralisme. Paris: Anthropos,
1971.
L'ldeologie structuraliste. 2nd ed. Paris:
Ed. Anthropos, 1975.
Le Lanqaqe et la societe. Paris: Gallimard,
1966.


91
differing conceptions of the role of culture in society.
According to him, the purported progressive disappearance
of ideologies to be replaced by a new and scientific ration
alism was a new "ideology-mask-illusion11 permitting some to
devote themselves to purely technical problems and actions
beyond political and ideological options which, however,
9
remained the key to the system of cultural action.
Reactionary citizens in local government used the
notion of "need" in dogmatic arguments concerning the inter
ests of the populations, which they were supposed to repre
sent, to oppose the politics of a maison de la culture or
the choice of a director. In this way political and ideol
ogical opposition were hidden behind such euphemisms as the
possibility of reception of the local population, their
need for entertainment, the taste of the public. The
spontanistes, who were against those who did not respect the
free creation of subjects, entertained a similar illusion.
Cultural demagogy can either claim the cultural needs of
the masses, of the majority of the people (which generally
means the petty bourgeoisie), or the spontaneity of indivi
duals, the mechanism is the same because in both instances
a virginity of free subjects who have escaped conditioning
is assumed. Marxists and sociological critics worked to
demystify these beliefs in order to show that freedom is
Pierre Gaudibert, Action culturelie, integration
et/ou subversion (Paris: Casterman, 1972), pp. 17; 20-21; 27.


115
as follows:
La somme de ces travaux permit d'laborer un thorie
de la mise en scne et des rapports scene-salle en
ce qui concerne la nouvelle architecture de l'espace
scnique et la participation des spectateurs. .
Pour qui suit le thtre d'un peu prs, ces tudes
n'apprennent rien qu'il ne sache dj car elles ne
reprsentent pas une reflexin critique mais elles
sont un maillon pour une histoire du thtre.
It is true that Bablet's book and the series by
Jacquot's group provide excellent source material for infor
mation on set designs and the scenic presentation of some
plays. Their works also document important trends in set
designs, in the role of the director, in theater techniques,
and in methods of production, which included in some cases
collective writing and the participation of spectators.
Nevertheless questions related to Gatti's political plays
in France in the 1960s need to be documented.
Those who have written about Gatti's plays since May
1968 are critics motivated by political commitment such as
Grard Gozlan and Jean-Louis Pays or students researching
4
a specific aspect of theater. Jiirgen Klein's dissertation
Simone Benmussa, "Le Thtre des metteurs en scne,"
Cahiers Renaud-Barrault, 74 (1972), p. 4
4
Gerard Gozlan and Jean-Louis Pays, Gatti Aujourd'hui
(Paris: Seuil, 1970) Peter-Jiirgen Klein, Theater fur den
Zuschauer Theater mit dem Zuschauer: Die Dramen Armand
Gattis ais Mittel zur Initierung humanen Verhaltens (Wies
baden: Athenaion, 1975). Margaret Ellen Ward, Peter Weiss,
Rolf Hochhuth, Armand Gatti: The Interaction between Intent,
Content, and Form in Contemporary Political Drama (Diss.
Indiana Univ., 1974). Annick Jourdan Duryce, Armand Gatti:


19
During the late 1960s and the 1970s other French
critics debated the role of the intellectual. Although the
exact relationship between the influence of intellectuals
and that of ideologies could not be defined, critics recog
nized the important roles of both in elaborating images
which guide different social classes. According to Claude
Prvost, "les hommes se servent de l'idologie mais, tout
autant et mme davantage, sont galement produits et mis en
movement par l'idologie, par ce qui fonctionne comme un
vritable inconscient culturel." Prvost also speaks of
the importance of techniques in relation to a critique of
ideologies. He states that Brecht, conscious of the tech
niques he used, created new meaning by using traditional
literary forms:
La pratique mme de Brecht rvle son effort
constant pour emprunter partout des techniques et
mme "formes fixes"; en apparence figes par la
tradition (la ballade, le sonnet et jusqu'au verset
biblique) et qui transporte Dieu sait quelles
idologies. ... Si les techniques, moyens et
procds ne sont pas neutres, Brecht pense qu'ils
peuvent tre neutraliss pour, remploys dans un
autre contexte, tre investis de significations
nouvelles.20
Moreover, Edward Said directs attention to the rela
tion between ideologies and the profession of a literary
19
Claude Prvost, "Littrature et idologie,"
Nouvelle Critique, 57 (Oct. 1972), p. 17.
20
Prvost, p. 22.


89
to deal with the group's relations with intellectuals, pro-
g
jects for a political program for culture, and opinion polls.
On various occasions he stated his intention to make French*-
men aware of the important role he himself assigned to
culture. He wanted to oppose culture to what he described
as factories of dreams: theater, film, television, the press,
and a certain type of literature which he interpreted as
playing on the power of instincts such as sex, blood, and
death. Once having been appointed Minister of Cultural
Affairs by de Gaulle in 1959, Malraux presented his projects
to the Senate.
Under Malraux's direction important projects were
accomplished: the maisons de La culture, the protection
of historical sites, the installation of statues by Maillol
in the Tuileries, the cleaning of the facades of Parisian
monuments, the organization of huge expositions, and the
decentralization of theaters. At the same time Malraux was
actively involved in politics. In October 1962 he became
a patron of the Association pour la Cinquime Rpublique,
a movement which united various Gaullist groups. He defended
the diverse Gaullist positions which were taken successively
from 1959 to 1962. Until 1962 his speeches concentrated on
the problem of Algeria. After 962 he used his energy to
defend the government against opposition political parties
Janine Mossuz, Andr Malraux et le Gaullisme CParis:
Armand Colin, 1970), pp. 70, 167; 180; 193; 285,


45
Aslan considers Roger Planchn and Giogio Strehler
to be directors influenced by Brecht's idea of distancia-
tion and a desire to politicize the spectacle by establish
ing a link between what is happening on the stage and what
is taking place in the actual world. It should be remem
bered, however, that Aslan summarizes Brecht's theories
abcut acting; in practice various directors and theater
groups interpret Brecht's theories in different ways.


153
form of theater since it demands an effort on the part of
the spectator. She refers to the play as a "jeu de puzzle."
The confusion in the play arises partly because the
indentifications of the "supposed" spectators with a parti
cular character are never simple. Sometimes the first reac
tion of a "supposed" spectator is dictated by sentimental
reasons and the second one is conditioned by his/her social
class, race, past, or fear about the future. In Boston
Katz, a Jewish lawyer, is invited to the play by non-Jewish
friends. At first he identifies with the attitude of the
prosecuting attorney who will be granted social acceptance
along with membership in a private club when he has won the
convictions of Sacco and Vanzetti. After his friends have
left the theater, however, Katz identifies with Vanzetti.
In New Orleans Little Ned, a good-natured black who is
unemployed, identifies with Vanzetti, while Mann, a weak
and nasty man who is also black and an organizer for the
Republican Party, sides with the authorities. Mann identi
fies with those in power to protect himself. Little Ned
identifies with those of a similar socio-political position
so that he will not have to fight alone. The two characters
make different choices, yet their choices are dictated by
the fact they are black.
Another cause of confusion in Gattis plays and a
source of weakness in them is Gatti's use of language.
Yves Benot attributes this weakness to the fact that
Gatti does not have the same cultural heritage as the


177
Ballade de l'Echelle
Chaqu hoitvme est un soleil.
Autour de lui gravitent ses passions,
la marche des annes-lumires
et des annes d'exploitation
sur la triste chelle des salaires. .
Sur 1'chelle du temps cosmique
ou 1'chelle barreaux sur laquelle,
force de grimper, on se casse le dos,
Chaqu homme est un soleil. (pp. 15-16)
Here again, unlike Brecht's songs, Gatti's verse can not
stand alone as poetry. Yet the song does introduce a cosmic
dimension attached to the idea of suns and the possibilities
of human imagination.
Different opinions, based on the type of employment
performed by each worker, are expressed by the suns. The
municipal sun Maurice Profilot supports the renovation of
the street Saint-Blaise, believing that workers will at last
have decent housing. Raymond Krasewki, a union leader in a
furniture factory, is against the idea. He thinks it is a
scheme to force the workers in Mnilmontant, the tradi
tional communist district, to move to the other working-class
districts of Aubervilliers and Saint-Denis, which conse
quently will become ghettos of the working class. Indivi
dual characters are presented as simple people, yet their
diverse views bring complexity to the play.
The suns are perceived as separate from the students
who create them. Claudius Rouget says about his creator:
Pour quelqu'un qui est n dans le vingtieme,
tu mrites des coups. Le Mur des Fdrs,


127
4
Auguste G. Attempts to enlarge the acting area by archi
tects, scenographers, and producers in many countries paral
leled attempts to enlarge the cinema screen in the late
1920s. The Polish scenographer Szymon Syrkus translated the
principle of simultaneity into practical terms by his crea
tion of a "simultaneous theater" in Zoliberg (1927) and then
in Warsaw (1932). In neither experiment was a particular
acting area or stage assigned to the actors; Syrkus believed
the theater was or should be a single space providing for
immediate contact between actor and audience.
In France, a model of a "spatial theater" inspired by
Syrkus's simultaneous theater was exhibited by Edouard
Autant-Lara in 1938 after a visit to Poland. In April- 1962
Yaacov Agam and the architect Claude Parent exhibited a
C
model of a "theatre scenes multiples en contrepoint."
Three months later Michel Parent tested the conception of
the theater embodied in this model by producing a play.
Parent's play Gilda Appelle Mae West presents the drama
enacted in the conscience of the American airman who dropped
the atom bomb on Hiroshima. The briefing for the raid on
Hiroshima parallels a briefing of gangsters, one of whom is
the expilot John. Moreover, these two sequences are played
simultaneously. Dramatic progression and suspense at least
Dorothy Knowles, "Michel Parent and Theatrical Exper
iments in Simultaneity," Theater Research, 11, 1 (1971), 26.
5
Knowles,"Michel Parent," p. 30.


66
In the 1960s the rise of structuralism was the distin
guishing feature in philosophy and methodology. "Struc
turalism" does not designate a philosophical thesis, but
points to the use of the notion of a structure as a tool, a
method, or an explanatory category. The term "structure"
was taken from linguistics and mathematics. The important
impact of linguistics on philosophy occurred in conjunction
with the rise in structuralism. Attention was directed
toward language as a structure and as the production of
knowledge.
Jacques Lacan, who bases his work on a reinterpretation
of Freud, first published some of his famous seminars in a
large volume entitled Ecrits (1966). Lacan thinks the uncon
scious is structured and its structures manifest themselves
in its "language" (dreams, slips of the tongue, jokes).
These structures, he believes, must be interpreted according
to the techniques of modern linguistics. A quotation from
his lecture "De la jouissance" illustrates how he relates
the structure of language and the expression of sex.
Tout ce qui s'est articul de l'etre suppose qu'on
puisse se refuser au prdicat et dire l'homme est
par exemple sans dire quoi. Ce qu'il en est de l'tre
est troitement reli cette section du prdicat.
Des lors, rien ne peut en tre dit sinon par des
dtours en impasse, des dmonstrations d'impossi-
bilit logique, par o aucun prdicat ne suffit. Ce
qui est de l'tre, d'un tre qui se poserait comme
absolu, n'est jamais que la fracture, la cassure.


120
Intersyndical Universitaire de l'Enseignement Suprieur et
la Recherche Scientifique) asked Gatti to write a play
about Vietnam. Gatti accepted and wrote in one month the
play V comme Vietnam. The Grenier de Toulouse proposed to
coproduce the play and replaced the scheduled Shakespearean
play La Nuit des Rois by Gatti1s play, which they presented
as "La Nuit des Rois de Shakespeare, interprte par les
comdiens du Grenier de Toulouse face aux vnements du
Sud-Est asiatique 'V comme Vietnam d'Armand Gatti," The
play ran for about one month at Toulouse. Then it toured
about fifty cities in France including Paris.
With the play V comme Vietnam Gatti for the first time
treated a then-current subject. During the same year he
carried on an experiment at the Thtre d'Est Parisin (TEP).
Spectators were asked to collaborate on a play by discussing
with Gatti their concerns and problems, and the kinds of
subjects they thought should be presented in plays. This
play, Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise was staged
at the TEP in 1968. Guy Rtor, who had initiated the
project, directed the play.
Gatti's four plays to be discussed: La Vie imaginaire
de l'boueur Auguste G., Chant public devant deux chaises
lectriques, V comme Vietnam, and Les Treize Soleils' de la
rue Saint-Blaise, can be divided into two periods: 1962-1966
and 1966-1968. The plays staged during the former
period emphasize the past and those of the latter period


76
Parisian daily Le Figaro. He appointed Benoist the maga
zine's culture editor. Obviously the cultural movement of
the new right is a form of political activism.


202
energies to arguments about culture, particularly theater,
since the real political situation in France demanded atten
tion to crises and changes in the real world.
The serious theater in Paris set the Brechtians against
the theater of the absurd. The theater directors Jean Vilar
and Roger Planchn because of their participation in the
popular theater movement were considered to belong to the
Brechtian orbit. Jean-Louis Barrault, at the Theatre de
France, came to be the embodiment of Gaullism in the theater
He may have tried to vindicate himself by participation, in
1968, in the occupation of the Odon for which Malraux fired
him.
New interpretations of Marx and Freud, supporting or
opposing the use of structuralist methodology, emerged as
dominant trends in philosophy and literary criticism in the
1960s. The Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser directed
attention toward structural elements in Brecht's plays,
while the Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre influenced
by new leftist Freudian ideas called for the liberation of
the creative possibilities of the individual in order to
permit him to regain a certain control over his daily life.
In their works, both philosophers provide critical analyses
of the notions of class struggle, cultural or urban revolu
tion, history, and ideologies. Their works indirectly influ
enced experiments in the popular theater movement in the
1960s in relation to the structures, techniques and themes
used. Fragmented struggles in the society were paralleled


121
place the action in a contemporary context. The two
periods also coincide with changes in the political situa
tion in relation to the theater in France.


3
C'tait un trou, dans une fort, par un froid
peler. Je suis entr dans ce trou sous la terre.
Et dans ce trou, au debut, il n'y avait rien, pas
d'armes, on se cherchait. J'ai commenc rever
le monde, rver 1'Europe, rver tout ce qu'on
devait faire, les rapports changer, mais la
mesure d'un gosse de seize ans, qui se sent homme
et qui ne l'est pas encore. Je crois que faire..du
thtre c'est pour moi retourner dans ce trou.
In many of Gatti1s plays this apparent child's view conveys
the optimism that the possibility to create a just society
does exist. Momentary defeats such as the Commune of Paris
(1871) are to be viewed as a necessary part of future vic
tories. His characters are uncomplicated and simple. They
often lack the ability to analyze their situation, and their
emotional and behavioral characteristics are directly
related to their social milieu. It is the spectator who
critically analyzes the themes presented in the plays.
Workers and guerrilla fighters who seek to make society
more humane are represented as good, while owners of big
businesses, government officials, and those who serve them
or their own self-interest, are regarded as evil and
satirized.
Jean Vilar, desiring to promote young playwrights,
first drew attention to Gatti by staging his play Le Crapaud-
Buffle (Oct. 1959) to inaugurate the Recamier, the small
experimental theater associated with the Theatre National
Denis Bablet, "Entretien avec Armand Gatti,
Travail Thtral, 3 (1971) p. 19.
II


107
When Jeanne Laurent appointed Jean Vilar the director
of the TNP she realized that a theater director would need
to have a certain amount of freedom to make decisions, if
the concept of popular theater were to succeed. The notion
of the director's relative freedom arose again in March
1968 at a national conference entitled "Planchn metteur en
scene et auteur contemporain" which was held at the cul
tural center at Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne. Planchn inter
vened in the discussions and demanded "le pouvoir pour les
crateurs." Opposed to the appointment of directors of
the maisons de la culture by the government, Planchn
believed such positions should be given to creators not
administrators. Concerning the choice of a repertory he
concluded:
II faut se persuader de cette ide, dans les
Maisons de la culture, le pourvoir doit tre remis
aux crateurs. Ce n'est ni un ministre, ni
un maire, ni un conseil d'administration de
dcider des pices jouer, car la loi de la
majorit n'est pas la loi de 1'art.
In reference to politics in the theater, the March-
May 1968 issue of Cit Panorama, published by the Theatre
de la Cit, presented a survey which listed plays staged
"Le Colloque de Chatillon-sur-Chalaronne 'Dans les
Maisons de la culture le pouvoir doit tre remis aux cra-
teurs' dclare Roger Planchn," Dernire Heure Lyonnaise,
10 March 1968, p. 8, cols. 1-3.
15
Roger Planchn, Dernire Heure Lyonnaise, 10 March
1968, p. 8, col. 1.


58
and transformations of individuals.rather than in a direct
opposition of capital and labor. Therefore, the struggle
of the proletarians to liberate themselves effectively from
class domination requires not only an assault on the power
of capital but also a concept and practice of cultural rev
olution and psychological self-liberation. Political work
is seen as necessarily going beyond propagandistic criti
cism of existing society to take on a constructive aspect.
It is sought to cause a coming-to-consciousness within
different groups through a process of confronting different
concrete problems in the interests of a struggle for the
self-organization of different aspects of daily life.
According to the new leftists, in the face of world
wide organization of repression, the reemergence of opposi
tion has had to begin with a return to the basic reassertion
of differentiationthat is, the contestation launched out
side of the established "apparatus" and conducted in the
name of racial, cultural, linguistic, and sexual particu-
12
lansm. Therefore the developments of revolutionary move
ments, both in the Third World and among the colonized
minorities of the metropolitan countries, are fought in
the name of national independence and ethnic solidarity,
and not proletarian internationalism. The politicization of
youth and women and blacks in the industrial West has taken
12
Brown, pp. 192; 196-97.


I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Raymond Gay-Crosier, Chairman
Professor of Romance Languages
and Literatures
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Distinguished Service Professor
of Romance Languages and
Literatures
I certify that I have read this study and that in my
opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly
presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality,
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Hal H. Rennert
Assistant Professor of
Germanic and Slavic Languages
and Literatures
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate
Faculty of the Department of Romance Languages and Liter
atures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to
the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfill
ment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philo
sophy .
December 1982
Dean for Graduate Studies
and Research


131
la voiture des pompiers pour le dcrocher. C'tait
un samedi (Le quartier, cette nuit-l, n'a veill
qu'au vin rouge). Chacun disait que c'tait
cause de Pauline sauf Roger. II accusait la
Chamelle, sa belle-mre. Celle-ci [pendant ce temps]
crpait le chignon avec Fatime [Pauline's mother]
qu'elle traitait de maquerelle Un vrai carnaval, (p. 25)
The honor of a daughter and the honor of a father are exag
gerated here so that the spectator realizes how false some
bourgeois morals are in the actual situation of a worker in
the slums. Moral codes and a religion which resembles super
stition work to keep the workers ignorant and oppressed.
Gatti never states this directly. Instead he establishes a
correlation between the idea of Pauline' s father being unable
to protect his daughter's virginity and his honor against
the power of the White Baron, and the money spent by power
less men on alcohol and by oppressed women on fortunetellers.
The spectator who is distanced from the action by Gatti's
techniques perceives this correlation and can look at the
misery of these men and women and yet laugh because of the
humorous remarks of the characters and the fantastic,exag
gerated settings in which the action occurs. In short, a
casual contemptuous view of the events, as advocated by
Brecht, allows the spectator to form a critical view of
society.
To keep the spectator's attention, a constant theme is
often presented in a variety of ways. The theme of virgin
ity can serve as an example. The Black Baron surprised
Pauline and Auguste in a field when Auguste was nine years


183
Even so, the play does reflect Gatti's constant concerns.
From his own experience education is an equalizer. His
ability to excel in French permitted him to compete with
other French students although his family background dif
fered from theirs. In V comme Vietnam the instructor has
an important role in creating a new encyclopedia. Fur
thermore, in Gatti's reportage-fiction Siberie -0 + 1'infini
(Seuil, 1958) a young Siberian returns to her people to
teach them about Russian literature, instead of continuing
her brilliant career as a student in Moscow. Thus, edu
cation represents the hope that after a long history of
political struggles the future will be better.
The importance of education reappears when Brousse
suggests to Doussel that she should become a teacher and
conduct her own night-school courses emphasizing problems
in everyday life. Similarly, in May 1968 theater acti
vists speak of maisons clates, spontaneous creation, and
the participation of spectators in a play's production.
Indeed, some activists view the concept of maisons de la
culture as a way to conserve bourgeois culture and a means
to prevent experimentation with new forms of theater more
atuned to the everyday lives of individual spectators.
By rejecting Mile. Blanc, the suns reject bourgeois
culture and try to establish their own. Gatti provides two
endings to the play to convey this idea. First Mile. Blanc
is awakened when Herv, the black streetcleaner, knocks on
her apartment door to inform her that he has an idea for


71
attitudes to exist on the condition that they do not serve
the opposition. This moral order contains in it the nega
tion of morality under the guise of official public morals.
In this way an ideology in which no one believes evolved
into official virtues which emphasize the "values" of inte
gration and adaptation, and regulate behavior on a global
scale in the society. This ideology, which presents modes
and patterns of behavior rather than symbolic images, is
described by Lefebvre in the following way:
Cette ideologic comporte une part d'utopie, mais
une utopie tres particulire: la conservation de
l'existant et de la stabilit considre comme
indfiniment possible et comme infiniment sou-
haitable. ... II enveloppe une apologie du normal
et du sain, par opposition au malsain et 1'anormal,
avec des techniques et recettes pour obtenir la
moralit sociale et individuelle. On I'obtient par
1'adaptation et 1'intgration, par 1'adoption de
conduites rgulatrices, par l'acception des
"modeles" et patterns. Plusieurs mythes consacrent
les conditions de la stabilit: comme dans l'Etat
existant, plnitude de la personnalit des chefs,
srnit des responsables, aptitude des comptents,
souverainet des experts.27
Lefebvre changes around the structuralists' idea of the
2 8
end of history and gives it a different meaning. For him
the end of history as appearance and as a philosophy which
justifies the legitimacy of the appearance of the bourgeoisie
Lefebvre, Au^-deli du structuralisme, p. 175.
2 8
Andr Vachet,"De-la fin de l'histoire & 1'analyse
diffrentielle La Rvolution urbaine (les derniers ouv-
rages d'Henri Lefebvre)," Dialogue, 11, 3 (Sept. 1972), 403.


157
an increase in public support for the North Vietnamese.
Gatti's play V comme Vietnam expresses both anti-Americanism
and support for the North Vietnamese.
Like de Gaulle, intellectuals of the Left such as
Sartre were vociferously critical of the role of the U.S.
during the Vietnam War. In an article written in 1970 which
summarizes some of his political views, Sartre supports
Cuba against the U.S., believing Fidel Castro discovered
he was really fighting the power of the United States when
he fought Batista's army."*" Sartre, however, does not think
the Cuban Revolution can serve as an example for Europe
because it occurred in the historical context of South
America. He also thinks the revolutionary strategy in China
is more suited to the Third World than to Europe. Accord
ing to him, the revolution in European society must proceed
beyond the dictatorship of the working class to substitute
a classless society for what is left of the structure of
the former dominant class. In addition he believes that
when the Left assumes power it will not oppose its own
bourgeoisie but rather American imperialism since the real
problem in France is economic dependence on the United
States. Consequently the Left must be engaged in inter
national conflicts, and the development of French capital
ism has to be viewed in the framework of international
class struggles.
1
Sartre, "Intellk. und Rev.,
pp. 37-38.


197
of the emigrant worker and his cultural identity. The
video films were made by representatives of different com
munities: Poles, Italians, Moroccans. Each film begins by
showing the everyday activities in these communities.
Gatti's imagination and themes are very evident in the pro
ject described above. Yet workers actually do participate
in the experience of producing films and writing scenarios.
Another video film project was entitled La Premiere
Lettre. In 1978 the inhabitants of the city L'Isle d'Abeau,
near Lyon, collaborated in making video films about a
letter from Roger Rouxel. The letter was written to his
girlfriend Mathilde just before he was shot as a French
resistance fighter during the Second World War. The purpose
of the project was to have present-day inhabitants of the
new city relate their lives to Roger's, thus permitting him
to "live" again for a short period of time. For example,
girls who were being trained to be seamstresses made a huge
wedding dress for Mathilde, and pastry chef apprentices pre
pared a wedding banquet for the one that never took place.
Six television programs were aired in France in July-
August 1979 as a result of this project. The leftist news
paper Liberation ran a series of six interviews with Gatti
12
to coincide with the airing of the six video film programs.
As with most of Gatti's projects since May 1968, the
Marc Kravetz, "Dialogue avec Armand Gatti,"
Liberation, July 16-21, 1979.


95
* At the end of the 1960s there was a strong trend to
integrate culture into daily life and diiy life into
culture. This trend weakened during the 1970s when politics
left the theater for the street. In the 1970s the utopia of
the new left began to be countered by the anti-Marxist new
philosophers, an elitist new right, and various forms of
terrorism.


105
"fable." Documentation was gathered concerning the history,
customs, costumes, and civilization of the period of the
work being produced. Many directors in the 1960s and some
in the 1970s used this method of work in order to emphasize
the social and political relationships in the plays they
staged.
In the interview with Madral, Garran refers to the
actors working collectively at the Theatre de la Cit at
Villeurbanne and those working under the direction of Gatti
in the staging of his plays as a "spiritual family." Con
cerning the role of the "family" Garran states: "On pourrait
presque dire qu'elle a constitut une troupe fixe carac-
tre itinrant. Les transhumants du thtre populaire.
In his March 1968 interview with Madral, Pierre
Dbouche spoke like a militant and utopian, which is per
haps fitting for the director of the theater at Nanterre,
the campus where the original student protests began.
Dbouche mentioned workers creating a new culture and the
need for revolution when he said:
II ne s'agit pas tant pour nous, de faire accder
les gens la "culture", que de leur faire construir
une autre culture. Bien entendu, une telle ide
n'aurait rigoureusement aucun sens, si nos cts
des milliers de syndicalistes, d'enseignants et de
travailleurs ne militaient pas pour la mme chose.
C'est--dire la Rvolution. -*-2
11
Madral,
p. 57.
12
Madral,
p. 83.


141
their own particular political views, however exaggerated
those views may be.
In Turin, Italy, the supposed spectators are more
directly political; they include an anarchist, a union
leader, and a journalist. The journalist Boschetto says
to the anarchist Venturelli: "Vous ne reprsentez plus
qu'une survivance [un parti croupion] I'anarchie est morte
avec la guerre d'Espagne" (p. 28). To this Venturelli
replies:
N'ayez crainte *> la simple existence de gens comme
vous l'obligera toujours h. se teir en vie. Vous
connaissez 1'affaire des pendus de Chicago? Celle
qui a donn naissance la fte du Premier Mai?
Dans le monde entier [malgr vos actes de dcs] on
clbre cette fteMme si des gens comme vous
font semblant d'ignorer qui elle est dueavons-
nous un seul jour (dans notre manire de vivre ou
de penser) cess de tmoigner pour ou contre les
anarchistes de Chicago, et les ides pour lesquelles
ils ont t pendus? (p. 29)
In Chant public, the hanging of the five anarchists in
Chicago is referred to several times as is also the execu
tion of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. These references in
various forms knit the play together as they point toward
a common history of injustices in the past to which the
spectator can add present-day examples. By setting the
play in the past, however, Gatti creates a distance which
allows the spectator to take a critical view of injustice
in society. In the play it is the supposed spectators
who execute Sacco and Vanzetti. They, like the real
audience, are the ones who allow it to happen and do


60
revolutionaries convinced that organized work was a waste
of time. The disagreement and disappointment concerning
the relationship between culture and politics were particu
larly visible in what happened to the popular theater move
ment in France.
Class Struggle/ Structure/ Ideology
In the French context Louis Althusser, a member of the
Communist Party, renewed interest in Marx by applying a
structuralist approach to Marxist theories and to literary
criticism. Among other works he published "Comment lire
'Le Capital'" (1965), Pour Marx (1966), and Lnine et la
philosophie (1969) in the 1960s.
Althusser considers The Capital (Marx' critique of
capitalist economy and the basis for scientific socialism
published in 1867) to still be relevant, since it illu
strates the mechanism of bourgeois exploitation of the pro
letariat through increases in the hours of work, intensifi
cation of productivity and the cadence of work, decreases
13
m salary, and unemployment. He believes The Capital
makes it possible for workers, salaried employees, managers,
and some intellectual "workers" such as teachers, research
ers, engineers, technicians, doctors, architects, and
Louis Althusser, "Comment lire 'Le Capital'," in
Positions (1964-1975) (Paris: Editions Sociales, 1975),
P- 158.


69
Lefebvre notes:
Effectivement, des que nous y pensons, le fait d'etre
pris dans un systme la fois opaque et translucide,
le langage, et de ne pas pouvoir en sortir, n'est-il
pas angoissant? II y a un systme, ou le Systme.
Sous le langage, un abime, une bance. La-dessus
1'horizon desert. Le langage n'a pas de rfrentiel.
II ne renvoie a rien d'autre, ni au reel, ni a
l'homme, ni a 1'oeuvre ou a telle oeuvre, ni au
quotidien ou bien au non-quotidien. 5
He also does not like the premise of proposing a model, a
mental construction, be it methodological or epistemological,
which is supposed to eliminate from the actual world many
illusions and appearances as well as the individual, the
subject as discourse. Such action affirms the identity of
that which is real and intelligible to be in the system.
From a mental concept one jumps to a social reality and to
a normalization of this reality.
In his Au-del du structuralism (1971) Lefebvre gives
a long, excellent description of his interpretation of the
evolution of the bourgeois class in relation to its ideol-
2 6
ogy. Leftist writers in France view bourgeois ideology as
the dominant ideology in French society. Since much of the
contestation of the left is directed against the bourgeois
class and the idea leftists have of bourgeois ideology, it
ZD Lefebvre, L' ldeologie structuraliste, pp. 71-72.
2 6
Henri Lefebvre, Au-dela du structuralism (Paris:
Anthropos, 1971, pp. 170-92.


31
is a mixture of elements from both styles in the plays
cited, these elements are presented in conflict, as opposite
sides of a debate or confrontation. For example in
Les Paravents, political satire exists mainly as a backdrop
and counterpoint to the themes of death, illusion, and the
outcast's story. In Marat/Sade the only element of the
absurd is the lunatic world against which takes place the
debate between the individual and the collective. In Gatti's
play, the death of the protagonist and the social conflict
which causes it are not in apparent conflict. For this
reason Fitch believes the play, like others by Gatti, may be
the closest approximation of the absurd and the epic. Yet,
when Gatti does use absurd techniques (music hall clowning,
exaggeration, dream language) to explore the meaningfulness
of human experience, he wants them to serve as episodic
counterpoint to point up the essential political and histor
ical nature of the play. Fitch concludes, therefore, that
the combination of absurd and epic elements in the three
plays discussed occurs in the form of tension, that is a
counterpoint construction which actually points up an
incongruity between the elements. According to him, no
playwright can adhere to both absurd and epic theater,
since they pose a fundamental choice on the philosophical
and existential levels and illustrate irreconcilable
differences.


201
possible. Gatti refers to himself as a public writer and
¡
says his experiments have nothing to do with animation
15
culturelle. He considers such cultural activities to
be paid for and controlled by state officials or other
administrators such as mayors who use them to stay in power.
|
Rather than creating unanimity, his group seeks to point up
contradictions within a community. Therefore, the ideas
related to the purpose of the theater and cultural action,
which appeared to be silenced in the aftermath of May 1968,
i
subsist in France.
Gatti's activities in the 1970s should be viewed as an
I
extension of the popular theater movement of the 1960s. At
!
the same time, we must realize that the term popular theater
is no longer used. In order to understand French cultural
!
policies and the circumstances of political trends in the
j
French theater in the 1980s, it is essential to be aware of
the theater experimentation in the 1960s, the influence of
Brecht, and the plays of Gatti as discussed in this study.
i
In France under de Gaulle limits were put on political
debate and attention was diverted to arguments over the arts.
Since the normal avenues of political action and protest
were not functioning and an absence of debates of political
parties existed, French intellectuals used verbal criti
cism as a substitute for political action. They transferred
Kravetz, Liberation, July 21, 1979, col. 6, p. 13.
15


82
Catholic-leaning and the most militant of all the centrals,
and the CFTC (Confederation frangaise des travailleurs
chrtiens majority changed name to CFDT in 1964) which
remains Catholic and conservative. The other half is the
CGT (Confdration genrale du travail, largest trade union
federation Communist dominated since 1945). The CGT
retains its original confederate structure and part of its
anarcho-syndicalist tradition as do also the FO and CFDT.
This anarcho-syndicalist tradition is reflected in some of
Gatti's plays, particularly Auguste G. and Chant public.
Gatti at times rented a hall and read first versions of his
plays to CGT groups during the 1960s.
Of all the major Western Communist parties, the PCF
(Parti Communiste Frangais) suffered most from the problems
of destalinization which began after the Twentieth Communist
Congress in 1956. The tensions in the party between Italian
and Chinese alternatives were felt most acutely among
intellectuals and students of the Union des Etudiants Com-
munistes (UEC), which had also been penetrated by Trotsky-
ites. In order to destroy the base of the Italian faction
the party decided to disband the UEC; the largest faction
reformed under the leadership of Alain Krivine in the Trot-
skyite Jeunesse Communiste Rvolutionnaire (JCR). The party
in this way cut itself off from the students, as it had pre
viously alienated many intellectuals. Released from the
discipline of the party by the disbanding of the UEC, its
student members joined the JCR and FER (Fdration des


39
break up and counteract the poetic effect of the text during
a long monologue. Planchn has Henry IV stuff himself with
food. He adds silent scenes which show the suffering,
brutality, and humiliation endured by the soldiers and the
masses. Jacquot finds the mute scenes acceptable, but he
does not like the staging of the combat scene between prince
Henry and Hotspurs where the partisans of the prince are
shown to attack and kill Hotspurs. Nor does he like the
scene showing the prince accomplishing "curious gymnastics"
at the foot of a large crucifix in an inn, while expressing
repentence at a place in the text which Jacquot believes
19
does not suggest such repentence. He also dislikes the
idea of Falstaff being a spokesman for the people, the pro
jection of commentaries on a screen during the changing of
scenes, and the music used in fragments, superimposed or
mixed with other noise, to characterize institutions and
social groups. Brecht, however, encouraged such experimen
tation as witnessed by his notes on Coriolanus.
The English director Peter Brook who staged plays in
France during the 1960s believes there is a need to find
one's way "forward" to Shakespeare in the post-Brecht
20
theater. Since Shakespeare's theater allowed the play
wright to move from the world of action to the world of
19
Jacquot,
P-
235.
Peter Brook, The Empty Space (New York: Avon, 1969),
p. 33.


176
"La Prefecture de Paris vient de decider la destruction de
quarante-deux hectares qui, dans le 20e arrondissement,
foment le quartier de Charonne, pour y installer des im-
meubles de grand standing. Au centre de ce quartier, la
ru Saint-Blaise..." (p. 13). A workers' district is to
be destroyed in order to build new buildings. The teacher
dictates the subject of composition as follows:
Une rue, c'est toujours la possibilit d'tre
ailleurs. Celui qui, au lever du jour, a vu la
rue Saint-Blaise natre de son asphalte, au milieu
des platanes, a envie d'etre un soleil..." (p. 14)
The students are asked to personify the sun which rises each
morning on the street and to imagine what would be its
reaction to the change. Would it keep the street as it is
or would it approve the new buildings? The suns are
created through the imagination of the actual students.
All the students are doubled by a sun except Herv, the
black streetcleaner, who does not form an idea about the
subject of the composition until the end of the play.
Gatti uses music to punctuate the statements made by
the suns as they come into existence. As the "Mesure
pour rien" foreshadows the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti
in Auguste G., the "Ballade de l'Echelle" in Treize
Soleils foreshadows the theme in the play contrasting a
worker's mind-numbing work and the possibilities of his
imagination.


CHAPTER IV
POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ACTION IN FRANCE UNDER DE GAULLE
De Gaulle
The disintegration of civilian authority in Algiers was
the cause of the return of General de Gaulle to power in
France. By May 1958, after more than three years of fight
ing, the supporters of the Algerian war had lost their
majority in parliament. Pierre Pflimlin, the Christian Dem
ocrat nominated for the premiership, was known to oppose an
escalation of the war by an invasion of Tunisia and was
suspected of favoring an attempt to negotiate with the
nationals. In an effort to frighten parliament out of nom
inating Pflimlin, the Algiers settlers rioted, took over the
Government House with help from the army, and persuaded
General Massu to set up a Committee of Public Safety.
Thirty-six hours later, General Salan in Algeria launched a
public appeal to de Gaulle which received an immediate res
ponse. On 15 May 1958 de Gaulle announced his readiness to
take over the government authority.
On 24 May 1958 a small group of parachutists seized
Corsica for the Gaullists without encountering any resis
tance from the authorities or the population. After private
negotiations between Pflimlin and de Gaulle, the premier
77


>
171
weapons are effective, earlier in the play: "[Peper vous
qui parcourez le pays] pensez-vous que nos armes soient
efficaces?." To which Peper, who collects contributions for
the church responds: "Mon enqute pour 1' instant donne les
chiffres de 750,000 enfant mutils ou brls et 250,000 tus
par le napalm et les gaz toxiques"(p. 24).
In V comme Vietnam Gatti uses verse or songs to pro
vide contrast, interruption, variety in the presentation of
information, a Brechtian lesson, or a fragment of the puz
zle the spectator must put together to understand the mean
ing of the text. The story in verse below is related by
Stanley after he learns of Sophie's suicide in a military
prison on Guam. He had read the story in Vietcong propaganda
used to prepare him and Sophie for their roles as subversive
agents in the U.S. military maneuvers "Lance D'Argent." The
story in verse below appears on page 62 of the text. It
is not until page 100 when Luyen's story about the elemen
tary school is related that the significance of the verse
story becomes clear. Through the story Gatti links the
young Americans Sophie and Stanley with the Vietcong cause.
A Uan Mai, les enfants
mangent des gteaux
de lime, font nager
les carpes au-dessus
de leurs tetes, et
surveillent les canards.
Du ciel sont arrivs
des ballons plus brillants
que des pamplemousses.
Ceux qui les ont ramasss
ne savaient pas ce
qu'tait un gaz toxique.


188
Like Frisch, Dominique ores is also critical of
Gatti's overtly political play V comme Vietnam: "Gatti
ne semble pas avoir dispos pour l'crire d'une information
plus riche que celle de n'importe quel lecteur de grande
18
presse." It is true that Gatti's plays sometimes illus
trate a journalistic approach to facts, but he always trans
forms this information by using a lyrical or satirical style.
ores describes Gatti's Treize Soleils as "touffue, inca-
pable de s'ouvrir aucun dbat claire." She believes
these two plays are inferior to Gatti's Chant public because
the subjects were presented to Gatti by others. Yet even
when other people suggest the subject or participate in the
conception of a play or project, Gatti's constant themes
and techniques of distanciation are used. This trend con
tinues in Gatti's activities of the 1970s.
18
Dominique ores, "Gatti, une dramaturgie en suspens,"
Les Lettres Nouvelles, (Sept.-Oct. 1969), p. 183.
19
ores, p. 181.


75
left. As a result of the events of May 1968 they have a
more pessimistic view of the possibilities of political
action.
Right-wing thinkers also challenged the ideas of the
new left. The "new" right elitist philosophy of the 1970s
is a rejection of Rousseauist egalitarianism and the demo-
33
cratxc ideals that follow from it. New rightists look to
pagan and Indo-European cultures for alternative social
models. The philosopher Alain de Benoist, a founder of the
new rightist movement, believes that individuals and races
are divided by barriers of hereditary inequality. He there
fore calls for a "meritocratic" society in which the ablest
and most intelligent would rule. As a reaction to the
events of May 1968, Benoist and a number of rightists
organized a counterrevolutionary society called Research
and Study Group on European Civilization (GRECE). In 1974
GRECE member Yvan Blot, with fellow students at the Ecole
Nationale d'Administration, formed the Club de l'Horloge
(Clock Club), a lobby group that promotes such rightist
issues as racism, eugenics, and Nietzschean ethics. Blot
is a high-ranking official in the neo-Gaullist party, the
Rassemblement pour la Rpublique, The new rightist journal^
ist Louis Pauwels edits the weekend supplement to the
"A New Right raises its Voice; Science and Paganism
at the service of a Reactionary Doctrine," Time, 13 August
1979, p. 31, cols. 13.


84
developed world whose forms of aid, both Western and Eastern,
were viewed as trapping the underdeveloped countries in
the position of client states. From this political position
it was theorized that the fundamental contradiction in the
contemporary world was not that between capital and prole
tariat but that between the developed and the underdeveloped
countries.
In the West, the stress on the importance of personal
life-styles in determining the revolutionary potential of a
party or country was the most important feature of Maoism.
In the Western countries communist militants could express
their distrust of bourgeois life-styles by setting upMarxist-
Leninist parties that would break with bourgeois forms at
every level of life. This stress on the daily struggle
between the bourgeois and proletarian line in one's life
subverted the form of the political and included within its
sphere every aspect of life. However, it also threatened
to reduce all aspects of life to the political which proved
to be the main weakness in Leninist politics.
Mao drew on two Leninist ideas, self-criticism and
cultural revolution.^ The key Maoist concept was cultural
revolution. This concept had been advanced by Lenin towards
the end of his life to cope with the problem that the polit
ical seizure of the state and the economic reorganization
6
MacCabe, p. 57.


15
also goes for those human feelings, opinions and
attitudes through which at any time the form of men's
life together finds its expression. ^
In order to produce V-effects the actor has to work
against whatever means he has learned to get the audience
to identify with the characters he plays. This does not
mean, however, that the actor will or should succeed in
inhibiting this identification completely. Brecht clarifies
this point in the following appendix. to the original
Short Organ vim.
a) However dogmatic it may seem to insist that self-
identification with the character should be
avoided in the performance, our generation can
listen to this warning with advantage. However
determinedly they obey it they can hardly carry
it out to the letter, so the most likely result
is that truly rendering contradiction between
experience and portrayal, empathy and demonstra
tion, justification and criticism, which is
aimed at.
b) The contradiction between acting (demonstration)
and experience (empathy) often leads the unin
structed to suppose that only one or the other
can be manifest in the work of the actor (as if
the Short Organum concentrated entirely on acting
and the old tradition entirely on experience). In
reality it is a matter of two mutually hostile
processes which fuse in the actor's work; his per
formance is not just composed of a bit of one and
a bit of the other. His particular effectiveness
comes from the tussle and the tension of the two
opposites, and also from their depth. The style
in which the S.O. is written is partly to blame
for this.
13
Brecht,
P*
193.
14
Brecht,
p. 277.


185
Critics in general were not favorably impressed by
Gatti's Treize Soleils. Giles Sandier found Gatti's
play ineffective as theater:
Tout cet onirisme demeure laborieux, hermtique,
inutilement compliqu, et sans grand pouvoir de
signification, ni de dnonciation. On se perd dans
ces limbes confus pavs de bonnes intentions, au
rythme d'un langage faussement raliste dont pas
une phrase ne sonne juste ni ne parvient s'etablir
sur la scene.1
Sandier doubts that those spectators who participated in
the experiment feel concern for what is presented or consi
der the play to be a moral or political prise de conscience.
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech points out the misconceptions
of some theater activists about spectators and the role of
12
the theater. Leaders of associations and of unions do not
know what kind of plays best satisfies their members' needs.
An audience goes to the theater for the spectacle, not to
formulate what kind of performance it wants to see. And,
according to Poirot-Delpech, theater directors seem more
preoccupied with their own problems than with those of
their audience. Even when a writer like Gatti consults spec
tators, Poiret-Delpech doubts that an inhabitant of the
street Saint-Blaise can recognize himself in the play
Treize Soleils. He explains the problem which arises when
Giles Sandier, "ThStre populaire?." La Quinzaine
Littraire, 50 (1-15 May 1968), p. 26.
12
Bertrand Poirot-Delpech, "Que demande le peuple,"
in Au soir le soir (Paris: Mercure de France, 1969), p. 240.


130
Gatti's technique of weaving together the different motifs
of fire, the virgin, the route, and the marathon dance inter
laces the action and permits him to jump from one idea to
another, as well as to contradict information given.
Pauline later adds: "Au fond, ce n'est pas vrai que je vou-
lais tre au chauds'il n'y avait pas eu le marathon danse,
je serais revenue" (p. 23). In the framework of Auguste's
delirium the spectator becomes accustomed to the presentation
of the action in a nonlinear mode. The fragments of infor
mation are either enacted or narrated by the characters. The
themes of love, sex, and the exploitation of workers are
interwoven effectively so the spectator sees how they are
interrelated in actual life.
Shamed by the scandal of Pauline's departure her
father Julian symbolically establishes his friend Victor
Estribot as his son-in-law by "giving" him Pauline who has
left. After Victor Estribot ends up hanging himself off
stage on electric wires Auguste G. States:
Deux mois (jour pour jour) aprs le dpart de
Pauline, Victor Estribot montait sur un pylne et
s'accrochait aux fils haute tension. II a fallu
quotations in the text are from this edition. The unusual
use of punctuation by Gatti is explained in the preface of
his Theatre III where he states: "un tiret marque une rup-
ture de pense; un changement de vitesse vers 1'extriorisa-
tion; un crochet marque un changement de vitesse vers 1*in
terior isation. C'est en quelque sorte une criture trois
tons ou les diffrentes hauteurs ne sont pas donnes une
fois pour toutes mais s'tablissent continuellement les
unes par rapport aux autres" (pp. 10-11).


205
ideas of the 1960s do reappear in the Socialists' cultural
program, and to fully understand the cultural policies one
must have knowledge of the political trends discussed in
this study in relation to French theater.
The new Minister of Culture sent the Comdie Frangaise
to perform 19th century classic plays in the subway. He
plans to have the state build cultural palaces to reduce
the inequalities of culture by bringing more people to the
theaters. A "popular opera" house will be built in Bastille
square, the site of the 1789 revolution. An Arab Culture
Center, sponsored by fourteen Arab states, will appear in
the Latin Quarter. A museum of 1890-1915 art, an important
period for Socialists, is being built as is also a science
museum and park. The latter is to be built on the periphery
of Paris with areas for sports, picture painting, and gar
dens to plant things. Paris ready-to-wear designers will
be invited to stage fashion shows in the Louvre for world
buyers.
To revive cultural activities Lang plans to open new
art schools staffed by artistic counselors; spend ten times
more than usual funds to buy art for French museums; use
state money to subsidize artists, publishers of art books
and magazines, expositions, and radio-TV art programs; open
popular music centers all over France, enlarge music educa
tion in schools; open a ballet school in Marseille, a
dance conservatory in Lyon, a state dance school in Paris,
and revive folk dancing in schools. In addition. Lang


104
9
xncident occurred. Garran found, however, that by limiting
the choice of plays the troupe was actually limiting their
public to an avant-garde engage. Consequently, he broad-
ended his program. In 1964 he produced Shakespeare's
Coriolanus and had Gatti read his play Chant public devant
deux chaises electriques to a group from an HLM (Habitation
loyer modre). His troupe produced such plays as Peter
Weiss 'si'Instruction, Gabriel Cousin's L'Opra Noir, and
Brecht's Les Visions de Simon Marchard.
Like Rtor, Garran believes popular theater supposes
a social practice. He also seeks to produce unpublished
works which have a direct meaning for our era. In the 1968
interview with Madral he states:
Nous avons cart l'ide d'tre une courroie de
transmission du "patrimoine" culturel, refus la
function digestive du theatre bourgeois et elle,
plus mystique et plus mystifiable, de communion
ou d'engouement autour de realisations qui ne
remettent rien en question. 0
Familiar with Brecht's theories, Garran and his generation
of directors learned to study the "fable" which a particu
lar work proposed. The staging of a play proceded in a
manner which implied the reading and commentary of the
Nine Communist workers were crushed to death in the
Charonne subway station in Paris as a result of police
action against a demonstration organized by labor groups to
protest OAS terrorism.
Madral, p. 40.


170
- Reprsailles sur la Vietnam-Nord demandes
d'urgence. (p. 89)
With the TV screens Gatti successfully reveals the diffi
culties which American soldiers faced. They do not know
whom they are fighting and who is fighting for them. Gatti
sides with the North Vietnamese, but he also explains why
he thinks the Americans can not win if the population
supports the guerrilla fighters. The techniques Gatti uses
in the structure of the play effectively underscore the
action and the purpose of the themes he presents.
Another theme that is used in relation to structural
techniques is the theater. In contrast to the Americans
who use a computer and TV screens, the Vietnamese use live
theater to create dramas about current events. Consequently
their theater plays an active part in the war. Gatti pre
sents this idea in the play by having actors come and lis
ten to the "dreams" of soldiers. The term "dream" is used
to give distance to the events related. The school teacher
Luyen dreams that an elementary school is bombed and the
children are too frightened to go out of the building with
out the help of the teacher. In the process of carrying the
children from the classroom the teacher is seriously
wounded. When he calls to the children to climb out of the
window, they are unable to do it because they are too
small. The narration of this information contrasts with
and recalls the cold statistics related about children
wounded by the Americans when Megasheriff asks if American


174
Quadrature takes off his mask. Through the TV screens,
which are lowered from the flies, he addresses himself to
the Pentagon officials. Actually, he is indirectly addres
sing the spectators and urging them to take action to stop
the bloodshed. His gesture in the play demonstrates the
trend of some actors to take a more committed stand regard
ing political questions.
Les Treize Soleils de la rue Saint-Blaise, the other
play to be discussed in this chapter, evolved from an exper
imental project initiated by Guy Rtor, the director of
the Thtre d'Est Parisin (TEP). In 1967 thirty theater
spectators representing various groups and professions
volunteered to discuss their daily lives and concerns with
Gatti. The project was an attempt to write a play about the
lives of people living in the working-class district in
which the theater is located. It was also an experiment to
encourage the active participation of the audience in
theater activities, including the process of creation.
Nevertheless Gatti's constant themes and techniques reap
pear in this play. Seuil published the text of the play
in 1968 and it was first performed in France in March 1968
by the troupe La Guilde directed by Guy Rtor at the
Thtre d'Est Parisin.
The framework for the structure of the play is a night-
school course for adults which Christine Blanc teaches.
The play is divided into six parts without titles. The


98
Weiss, Max Frisch, and Friedrich Drrenmatt have frequently
been played there.
The two main needs of popular theater were subsidiza
tion and decentralization. Both of these ideals had strong
roots in the Resistance, since "subsidization" and "decen
tralization" were key words in the policies devised by
Resistance leaders for the complete postwar restructuring
2
of the French educational, political, and economic systems.
Plans for the new theater paralleled larger plans for a
new society, and these plans for the future actually repre
sented a continuation of the socialistic reform endorsed by
the Popular Front of the mid-1930s. The policy of subsidies
to the French theater and geographical decentralization
also paralleled a program of industrial subsidization after
the Second World War.
On 9 April 1959 Andr Malraux outlined at a press
conference his proposals for the reorganization and revi
talization of France's national theaters. On 24 July of
that year the Departments of Arts and Letters and of Archi
tecture, and the National Archives were transferred from
the Ministry of National Education to the new Ministry of
Cultural Affairs. At that time Malraux stated his desire
to make the works of humanity, and especially of France,
accessible to the largest number of Frenchmen.
Vera Lee, Quest for a Public: French Popular Theater
since 1945 (Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman, 1970), pp. 24-25.


16
It is true that the style of the Short Organum, which
is more expository than theoretical, has caused some con
fusion about Brecht's theories. Brecht did discard the
label of epic theater, although he never renounced the con
cept of progress toward conscious experience which he felt
15
epic theater makes possible. For Brecht the techniques of
distanciation (V-effects) are the key to the theater's com
bative character. The application of such techniques
assumes that society considers its condition to be historic
and capable of improvement.
Most French dramatists and theater directors in the
1960s seemed to overlook the importance of distanciation
as an integral part of Brecht's theater. Jean-Paul Sartre
during his lecture entitled "Thtre pique et thtre
dramatique" given in 1959 at the Sorbonne for the ATEP (an
association of Parisian theater students headed by Ariane
Mnouchkine at the time) summarized Brecht's theater as
follows:
Vous savez ce qu'est le thtre pique de Brecht,
vous connaissez sa recherche principale qui est de
montrer, d'expliquer et de faire juger plutt que de
faire participer. II veut montrer la fois l'acte
individuel, et ce qu'il appelle la gestus sociale qui
conditionne cet acte, il veut montrer les contradic
tions qu'il y a dans toute conduite et en mme temps
15
Brecht, p. 273.


61
students to understand the mechanisms of capitalist society
in order to orient themselves in the class struggle.
Updating Marx' ideas, Althusser states that capitalism
functions without massacres in metropolitan countries, but
in practice its methods of massacres and robbing is trans
ferred to the Third World: Latin America, Africa, Asia
with a most recent example being seen in the massacres by
14
Americans m Vietnam. He considers the case m Vietnam
to mark a different phase, however, since people have
learned to organize and defend themselves.
Althusser, as a Western Marxist, developed the ideas of
Mao Tse-tung by theorizing about the importance of cultural
struggle. In an essay entitled "Ideology and Ideological
State Apparatuses" (1971) he states that it is not a ques
tion of opposing truth to ideology, but rather a question of
analyzing particular ideological struggles; that is, the
15
function of any particular system of representations.
These systems of representations are not simply a matter of
ideas; they are systems of particular practices which
produce them. These practices are organized on a political
basis that has to be recognized and struggled against.
In the analysis of classical Marxist-Leninist theory,
it was traditional to consider that the state possessed
14
Althusser,
"Comment lire," pp. 50; 55; 58.
15
MacCabe, p. 65.


145
theater director Derlinski states: "Stop. > Excusez ce
court arrt. Nous allons vous demander comment, h partir
de 1A, chacun de vous voit la suite de la pifeceVous,
monsieur" (p. 48). The worker-spectator Vastadour responds
"Moi?Je mettrais 1'accent sur Sacco et Vanzetti, savoir
quels taient leurs paroles, leurs gestes, leur fagon de
vivre En un mot je voudrais faire leur connaissance"
(p. 48). Consequently, the second part of the play does
show the personal lives of Sacco and Vanzetti, but only
through the "supposed" spectators viewing the action who
"imagine" Sacco and Vanzetti's last hours and who actually
incarnate those taking part in the events. Gatti describes
this action of selmaires in the preface to his play in
the following way:
Dans ce "Chant public", il signifie une cration
parallle que fait le spectateur suppose, en cor
respondence avec le spectacle qu'il est en train de
voir (ici celui de la scene imaginaire). Souvent
le spectateur invente, traduit, ou rinvente ce
qu'il voit: cette invention, traduction ou rinven-
tion est un Selmaire. (preface, p. 15)
A general selmaire occurs, for example, when the "supposed"
spectators who sympathize with Sacco (Boschetto, Cervi,
Venturelli, Ehrman-Klose, Derlinski, and Farley) and
Vanzetti (Kurlanski, Bonnetade, Little Ned, Coleone,
Vastadour, and Anne) stand and sing the "Ballade de 1'Inter
national Working World [sic]" together.
The first stanza tells about Tom Mooney who organized
the strikes of tramway workers. He was not convicted


154
generation of Malraux, even though he experienced the same
19
war. Moreover he thinks Gatti's inquietude contemporaine
is not experienced by the bourgeoisie or certain other
people who have cultural functions or positions. Gatti's
plays instead express his anxiety in relation to his own
identity, his origins as a worker, and as a fighter in the
French Resistance. Gatti's language is different, Benot
concludes, because his cultural background is different.
He describes the weaknesses in Gatti's language as follows:
Ce n'est pas seulement affaire d'ides ou de con
cepts, mais aussi et plus encore de langage: ce que
le style de Gatti a souvent de dconcertant, cette
manire d'entrechoquer des termes abstraits dont la
signification, dans ce contexte, ou bien s'est singu-
lairement assombrie, ou bien est devenue autre que
celle de 1'usage habituel, le mlange surprenant
d'lans lyriques arrts mi-course et d'analyses
feintes, tous ces traits rvlent que le langage
n'est pas, chez lui, un lment donn, djh pr-
par par une certaine culture, ou ducation, qu'il
est pniblement recr par 1'crivain.
Yet, Gatti's plays are important as experiments in theater
techniques and as a means to understand the evolution
toward political theater in France in the 1960s.
21
Alain Schifres calls Gatti a revolutionary humanist.
He believes Gatti never strays from his dream to free man.
Yves Benot, "Le Thtre d'Armand Gatti et l'inqui-
tude contemporaine," La Pense, 128 (1966), p. 129.
20
Benot, p. 123.
^ Alain Schifres, "Armand Gatti," Rlits, 188
(1966) p. 65.


24
Arthur Adamov, and Andr Gisselbrecht presented their views
about Brecht's plays and theoretical works in articles in
this review. For them popular theater meant a critical
theater which should activate the spectator, that is
political theater.
In the early 1950s in France, with the exception of
the plays of Camus and Sartre, no political theater existed.^
Yet the political situation in France demanded such drama
in a form more directly appealing than the plays of Camus
and Sartre where the characters illustrate existential
2
philosophical beliefs. Both playwrights present uncommon
experiences that occur in the uncommon lives of heroes:
Sartre's include a Greek prince, a South American deserter,
a Communist party leader, a general of peasant wars, a
prince of German industry; those of Camus are a Roman
Emperor, a Tchekoslovakian emigrant, a Russian poet-assassin,
and a Spanish hero. Both writers attempted to forge myths
of rebels who seek clarity despite the absurdity of being-
in-the-world. Whereas Sartre called upon heroes to take
action to make history, Camus believed one could not act
without first having certain values mainly a solidarity
with other men.
Agns Hfner, Brecht in Frankreich 1930-1963: Ver-
breitung, Aufnahme, Wirkung (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzlerischer,
1968), p. 47.
o
Ruby Cohn
(Blooming-


93
profession pushed aside the notion of culture and people and
distanced themselves from the milieu of workers and peasants.
The notion of le peuple, however, conserved the idea of the
majority of people.
May 1968 permitted discrepancies about the notion of
culture to come to light when the ideological apparatus of
the family, school system, religion, politics, unions, and
information and cultural organizations in the society was
deeply shaken.^ Since 1968 the French Communist Party
avoids attempts to define a cultural power which would
escape the control of elected members of political or union
organizations. Since May, the directors of the Communist
Party often repeat it is up to the creators to create and
not to substitute politics for culture. They fear the con
siderable influence to their left which risks to bring a
radical conscience to the ideology of social groups under
the direction of the PCF. After May 1968 the Communist
Party's liberalism accepted all esthetic and formal research
except that with any sort of political expression. It
remained silent or reserved towards political theater and
films (Gatti, Benedetto, Godard).
The idea of cultural revolution dismayed both the
Gaullists and the Communists, since it emphasized the
ideologic functions of the class of such and such a culture,
11
Gaudibert, pp. 100-06.


50
ideology particularly more remote spheres like art and
literature directly or deterministically, but instead
4
through a variety of factors. Tradition, individuality,
and social change play some part. Ideology in turn influ
ences the economic base and helps shape economic and his
torical processes. Art stands in an extremely complicated
and contradictory relationship to the social base and to
politics and can never be completely understood sociolog
ically or determined. Moreover every work of art contains
personal and aesthetic aspects which have nothing to do
with social history. In their fight for the liberation of
art. Communist writers such as Kolakowski, Lukcs, and
Garaudy take refuge in Marx. In doing so they contradict
the Leninist social concept which is totalitarian and con
tinues to serve as the guideline in the the Soviet Union.
In Germany after the First World War it became apparent
that Expressionism was not merely a revolt against existing
art forms. The destruction of existing forms indicated the
5
destruction of the existing social order. The intellec
tual revolution preceded the political revolution. Expres
sionists such as Kurt Eisner, Ernst Toller,Walter Hasenclever
and Bertolt Brecht were also members of the Independent
Social Democratic Party. They helped set up revolutionary
Rhle, pp. 131-32; 135-38.
5
Rhle, pp. 147-49.


51
governments and sat on workers' councils. With the decline
of the revolutionary wave, the Independent Social Democratic
Party disbanded; its left wing went over to the Communist
Party in 1920 and its right wing returned to the Social Dem
ocratic Party in 1922. In 1923 a new trend evolved called
"New Objectivism." It included topical novels and journal
istic reportage, epic and documentary plays, reviews, popu
lar songs, and jazz. Its aim was to have literature look
at the world objectively and realistically, in order to
form a critical view of the world.
In 1942 Mao Tse-tung, a founding member of the Commun
ist Party in China, summoned the left-wing writers to a
conference in Communist-held Yenan Province and proposed
g
Lu Hsin as a model to follow. Mao asked writers to break
with the classical literary tradition by writing in the
language of the workers, peasants, and soldiers. Hu Feng,
a Communist since the 1920s and a close friend of Lu Hsin,
was regarded as China's leading Marxist literary critic.
Like Lu Hsin, he was involved in constant arguments with the
Party bureaucrats. After Stalin's death he launched an
attack on Communist cultural policy which demanded that a
revolutionary writer adhere to Communist ideology, develop
an understanding of the lives of workers, peasants and
soldiers, follow the Party line, and confine himself to
6
Rhle, pp. 410; 420; 431.