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. My high school French literature teacher told us about the theatre, back in the day, when we were studying Ionesco in class. After experiencing the first lockdown in Paris during the pandemic – and subsequent restrictions – which forced cultural venues to stay closed for several months, I vowed to make the most of Paris’ theatre scene as soon as theatres were allowed to reopen. My first stop was this theatre.
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, (nearly) without interruption since 1957. 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.
If you don’t speak any French, do not despair, English subtitles are provided every Wednesday!