Bookmark and Share

A Night at La Comédie Française with Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam

12/28/06 Paris Report by Darius KADIVAR



Bakhtiary Bey at the Court of Louis XIV at Versailles and Queen Soraya of Iran greeted at La Comédie Française ©Comedie Française &© Nakissa ©Versailles Museum


The Comédie-Française is the world's longest established national theatre. It was formed in 1680, when Louis XIV ordered two rival troupes to merge and form the Comédiens du roi aka The Comedians of the King the only professional French company then playing in Paris. The spirit of this group, which endured through the upheavals of history, is still in evidence today. Despite various reorganizations, the most important of which occurred under Napoleon's administration in 1812, its modus operandi remains largely as it was in the early 19th century. Each member holds a share of the profits within a democratically structured unit that allows for shared duties and responsibilities. After a year's trial, the member becomes a pensionnaire or probationary member (currently twenty-three in total); after an indefinite period of time, he or she may gain full membership as a sociétaire (currently forty-three). Retirement with pension is awarded after twenty years of service. Throughout its long history, the Comédie-Française has exercised a lasting influence on French theatre, arts and letters. It has given the world some of its most illustrious stage actors: Sarah Bernhardt, Jean-Louis Barrault, Ludmila Mikaël, among many others. Members of the troupe are normally not permitted to accept theatrical engagements outside the institution. Three venerable Parisian theatres stage its productions: the salle Richelieu, the Vieux-Colombier and the Studio-Théâtre in the Louvre.



Founded by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, aka Moliere (1622-1673) , La Comédie Française has become a respected institution with a rich repertoire of classic and modern plays. © Comédie Française



I was invited to assist to the Premiere of a Spanish play performed for the first time in French entitled Pedro et Le Commandeur a tragic-comedy by Felix Lope de Vega a contemporary of William Shakespeare and directed by Omar Porras with a French adaptation of the text by Florence Delay. One of the members of the Cast playing five different roles and appearing more that ten times on the stage was no more than the famous Persian Dancer and actor Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam who was awarded last October with the Persian Golden Lioness Award® in Budapest Hungary and was noticed for his international Tour of the Kafaneh Siah (See Author's Notes) an unknown yet relatively contemporary play by Mirzadeh Eshghi set at the time of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 which was performed at the Salle Adyar in Paris to the standing ovation of an enthusiastic crowd. Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam is the VERY FIRST Iranian Pensionnaire of the Prestigious Comedie Française since its inception in 1680. It is indeed a historical accomplishment for an Iranian comedian to this day which was noticed by the French Media in magazines such as Point De Vue Images du Monde, Le Monde as well as on French TV hosted by Michel Drucker's weekend program Vivement Dimanche to name a few.



Some of the Splendid costumes at display highlight the quality of the Comédie's craftsmen and women. . © Comédie Française



The French Comédie Française is a superb building set not far from the Avenue Rivoli and the famous Louvre Museum. One senses the historical heritage of the building that hosted some of the greatest plays as well as actors of French theater. It is not unusual to bump into famous people at such premiers be it journalists or writers of French literary circles. I recognized one or two French comedians such as Dominique Pinon, whose strange face is noticeable as a character actor and supporting role in many of Jean Pierre Jeunets films such as Amélie Poulain or A Very Long Engagement. French Journalist and critic Philippe Alexandre was speaking to two charming ladies and a former culture minister of the late French President François Mitterand.  



Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam first pensionaire of
Persian decent of La Comédie Française ©Nakissa



Contrary to popular belief the Comédie Française is not reserved to a privileged few, it has many matinees and afternoon performances reserved to schools and colleges and the repertoire is as much classic as modern. It is also very rich and colorful both in costume and set designs and displays great stage pyrotechnics and stage effects that are often spectacular.


After a very rich career as a Dancer, Mr. Moshkin Ghalam is certainly paving the way for a new generation of Iranian stage actors in France and Europe at large ( See Agenda Below).


So Vive La Comédie !!



Author's Notes:


Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam's 2007 Agenda :


-January 19th "Kafane siah" in Frankfort, Germany it is a play in Persian
-February 22nd
RaghsOstoureha in Toulouse, France (Persian mythological dances, a Franco-Iranian co-production)
-August 25th Omar Khayam ballet in LA USA
-September 9th Raghs oustouraha (Persian mythological dances, a Franco Iranian cooperation) in Vancouver Canada
For more details, bookings and other feedback on programs in 2007 you can contact Mrs. Suzie Ziai of  Nakissa at:


Official Website of Nakissa Company.


Recommended Reading : Shahrokh Moskin Ghalam's Adaptation of Classic Kafaneh Siah on US tour by DK


Recommended Reading ( In French) : Shahrokh Moshkin Ghalam Bio at La Comédie Française


Recommended Reading : Iranian Pioneers in French Cinema by Darius KADIVAR



About the Author: Darius KADIVAR is a Freelance Journalist, Film Historian and Media Consultant.


© Copyright 2006 (All Rights Reserved)