Louis Jouvet (1887-1951)

Louis Jouvet (1887-1951), French director, actor, stage designer, teacher, and writer, who was an outstanding figure in 20th-century French theater. Born in Crozon, a small town in southeastern France, Jouvet originally worked as a pharmacist before turning to the theater. In Paris he was refused entrance to France`s premier drama school, the Conservatoire d`Art Dramatique, because of his stammer. After a few minor roles, however, Jouvet made his professional stage debut in a stage adaptation of "Brat`ia Karamozovy" (1880; English translation, "The Brothers Karamazov," 1911), by Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

In 1913 the well known French director

In 1913 the well known French director Jacques Copeau invited Jouvet to join the newly created Vieux-Colombier acting company. Jouvet worked with the company as stage manager, stage designer, and electrician, but also gained recognition for his interpretation of the character of Sir Andrew Aguecheek in a production of "Twelfth Night" (1600?) by English playwright William Shakespeare. From 1914 to 1917 Jouvet served with the French Army during World War I, and he then traveled in the United States with Copeau and the Vieux-Colombier from 1917 to 1919. He returned to France in 1919 and in 1922 was appointed director of the French theater the Comedie des Champs-Elysees. In this capacity Jouvet received acclaim for his 1923 production of the farce "Knock; ou le triomphe de la medicine" (1923; English translation, "Doctor Knock," 1923), in which he starred as well as directed, and which was written by French playwright Jules Romains.

In 1928 Jouvet staged "Siegfried

In 1928 Jouvet staged "Siegfried," written by French novelist Jean Giraudoux. As a result of the success of "Siegfried," Jouvet and Giraudoux continued their collaboration until 1939; during this joint endeavor they produced some of the best French theater pieces of the period. In 1939 Jouvet was appointed director of the Thetre de l`Athenee (since renamed Athenee-Louis-Jouvet). During the German occupation of France during World War II (1939-1945), Jouvet toured Latin America with the Thetre de l`Athenee. On his return to France in 1945, Jouvet paid a final tribute to Giraudoux, who had died, by directing Giraudoux`s "La folle de Chaillot" (The Madwoman of Chaillot), after which Jouvet returned to directing classic plays such as those by French playwright Molire.

As a film actor

As a film actor, Jouvet is best remembered for performances in, among others, "Carnet de bal" (Dance Card of the Ball, 1938) by French director Julien Duvivier, "Drle de drame" (Strange Drama, 1937) by French director Marcel Carne, "Htel du nord" (Hotel of the North, 1938) also by Carne, and "Quai des orfvres" (Goldsmith`s Wharf, 1947) by French writer-director Henri-Georges Clouzot.

A hard worker

A hard worker, Jouvet was also a respected teacher. His books on theater include "Temoignages sur le thetre" (Testimony on the Theater, 1952), "Le comedien desincarne" (The Comedian Disembodied, 1954), "Molire et la comedie classique" (Moliere and Classic Comedy, 1965), and "Tragedie classique et thetre du XIXe sicle" (Classic Tragedy and Theater of the 19th Century, 1968).

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