La pratique du théâtre

François Hédelin, abbé d’Aubignac, Paris, 1657 (Google Books, 1683)

Lister read this work in December 1664. François Hédelin, Abbé d’Aubignac was a protégé of Cardinal Richelieu, and tutor to one of Richelieu’s nephews, the Duc de Fronsac.  The Cardinal had consulted him for ideas about the general reform of the French stage.

As Marvin A. Carson indicated, ‘D’Aubignac, who hoped to become the first director of a national theatre, drew up recommendations on architecture, scenery, stage morality, seating, and control of audiences’. 1.

Richelieu subsequently urged him to create a ‘guidebook for would-be dramatists’, which was the Pratique du théâtre, not completed and published until 1657.   D’ Aubignac’s goal ‘was to create the first practical manual of playacting, and his work indeed became a standard reference for practicing dramatists in France and elsewhere for the rest of the century’. 2.   He advocated that actors must speak if they were truly their characters, pretending as though there were no audience present, and advocated a didactic role for theatre to encourage good moral character in the audience.

Lister wrote about several French plays in his memoirs; Lister often criticized their sometimes scurrilous manner, so perhaps D’Aubignac was influential in the development of his critical thinking about the theatre.

  1. Marvin Carson, Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Survey, from the Greeks to the Present (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 99
  2. Carson, Theories of the Theatre, 99

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