Theatre in Paris is one of the French capital's recent tourism-related start-ups that can already lay claim to welcoming audience members from over 40 nationalities to French theatrical plays.
Paris' theater scene is a lively one, rivaled only by London and NYC. Yet, because theater relies on the nuance of language delicately (or at times passionately) performed, many non-French-speaking visitors were losing out on the Paris theater experience simply because of the language barrier.
So like most great start-ups, the entrepreneurial team behind Theatre in Paris simplified their service down to one main idea: to provide “surtitling” to good French theatrical plays at landmark venues in Paris.
"The Flute," with surtitles provided by Theatre in Paris — Photo courtesy of KF Prods / Theatre in Paris
If you're wondering what in the world surtitling is, it's similar to subtitling, except with surtitling – which is usually used expressly for theatrical productions – the language offered in translation is projected up above the stage, often just above the top curtain.
At any given time in Paris, there are dozens of plays being performed all over the city. Theatre in Paris aims to make these accessible, in terms of language, to the millions of visitors who come to Paris every year whose French is not at a sophisticated enough level to follow a play's storyline throughout the performance.
However, as is the case with recent start-ups, it's a matter of taking things one step at a time. For this spring/summer season, Theatre in Paris has joined forces with the historical landmark Théâtre Édouard VII.
“Expanding our offer to the Théâtre Édouard VII allows Theatre in Paris to propose an authentic Parisian evening to our international clients in a magical venue, with a show that’s already been so well received by French audiences,” says Carl de Poncins, president of Theatre in Paris.
Théâtre Édouard VII, one of Paris' most beautiful theaters, has been presenting ground-breaking English and American theater to Paris audiences for decades. The theater itself was established by the English King Edward VII, and its location, just between Opéra and Madeleine, couldn't be better strategically placed for a cultural night out on the town.
With the lively scene that Paris nightlife offers – with music, jazz, opera, live shows, ballet and more – it's refreshing to see that now, for anglophones, there's a way to experience the city's vibrant theatrical culture as well.
“Through surtitling, we hope to open the doors of French performing arts to as many as possible, allowing audiences to enjoy the French language, thanks to a high-quality simultaneous translation, and encouraging them to share in the laughter and emotions of the rest of the audience,” says Bernard Murat, director of Théâtre Édouard VII.
Here are some of the upcoming Theatre in Paris events to watch for:
A Farewell Dinner, one of the most talked about shows of the Parisian season, will be presented at the sumptuous Théâtre Édouard VII through Saturday, June 27. Shows begin at 9 p.m.
From September onwards, there will be a new comedy called The Lie by Florian Zeller, also playing at Théâtre Édouard VII, with French movie star Pierre Arditi.
Around the World in 80 Days has been a long-running success of the Paris theatre scene for the past 10 years. It's an ongoing piece presently showing at Théâtre du Splendid.
And the most famous play of French theatre, Cyrano de Bergerac, will run from September onwards at Theatre Le Ranelagh instead of Théâtre Michel, where it was performing until now.
As a patron of Theatre in Paris, you're guaranteed the best placed seats for comfortable reading of the surtitles, a personal welcome, a pre-show cultural introduction in English and an English program.
For reservations and further information, consult the Theatre in Paris website.