THEORY FOR THESPS

Art du comédien.  Principes généraux.  Recueillis et mis en ordre par Aristippe, 1819. 

Paris, Louis Raymond, [1819]. 

Broadside (435 x 577 mm), text arranged in tabular format under headings; creases from folding, loss to blank left-hand margin, small hole to one fold, light foxing, a few small ink spots.

£875 + VAT

Approximately:
US $1107€1034

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Art du comédien.  Principes généraux.  Recueillis et mis en ordre par Aristippe, 1819. 

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Very rare broadside encapsulating the ‘art of the actor’, by the thespian and theoretician Aristippe-Félix Bernier de Maligny, who would later develop his ideas further in his 1826 book Théorie de l’art du comédien. 

The text begins with an interesting discussion of declamation: ‘theatrical declamation is the art of expressing on stage, through voice, attitude, gesture, and facial expression, the feeling of a character, with the variety and correctness demanded by the situation he finds himself in …  Speaking nobly and with dignity without bombast and without mundanity is the height of the art …  The secret to touching hearts lies in the gathering of an infinity of delicate nuances’ (trans.). 

Bernier de Maligny then tackles thirty-one topics pertaining to the thespian art, providing definitions and advice.  These include: voice, pronunciation, articulation, diction, and breathing (‘one must breath very often, but only a little each time, and in such a way that the spectator does not notice’); action, gesture, naturalness, monotony (‘never start a phrase in the same tone in which you finished the previous one’), and timing; soul, sensitivity, illusion, inspiration, pathos, deportment, and imitation; observation, research, memory, tradition, costume, and rehearsal.  Bernier de Maligny also discusses ‘faults’ common among actors, including bad aspiration, addressing the audience rather than one’s interlocutors, and overacting. 

No copies traced in the UK or US.  OCLC records a copy at the BnF only. 

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