The Théâtre de La Huchette in Paris’ quartier latin is one of those places that sat on my “to do” list for nearly too long for me to admit. I will, nevertheless – for the sake of actually telling the story of how I discovered it – tell you: my high school French literature teacher told us about it in class when we were studying Ionesco. If that sounds like a ridiculous amount of time to wait, well, it is…
Home to what is known as the “Spectacle Ionesco”, the self-proclaimed “smallest of the big theatres” holds a Guinness World Record for having hosted performances of the famous Romanian playwright’s two plays – The Bald Soprano and The Lesson – back to back, every Wednesday to Saturday evenings, without interruption since 1957 (let’s just say the pandemic doesn’t count…). Despite only having 97 seats, the theatre has welcomed over 2 million spectators, including Edith Piaf.
However, it wasn’t always all sunshine and roses for Ionesco. Although his plays are now a roaring success and are known as two classics of the “theatre of the absurd” genre, he had a bit of a rocky start. The plays were first played at the Théâtre de La Huchette in 1952 for a mere three months, before being picked up again indefinitely five years later.
Having seen only The Lesson, I thoroughly enjoyed it! And if you don’t speak any French, do not despair, English subtitles are provided every Wednesday!