July 25, 2021

The green theaters, courtyard side, garden side

Resthever will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2021. Resthever? This acronym, which would not have displeased the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, designates the European Network of Green Theaters, an association made up of owners, historians or garden enthusiasts who strive to make an inventory and ensure the promotion of events taking place there. In the book devoted to it by Nathalie Deguen and Marie-Caroline Thuillier, the definition given by garden historian Marie-Hélène Benetière – in the reference work Garden (Editions du Patrimoine) – is mentioned: “The green theater (turf theater) is a garden theater whose structure is made up of plants in the ground. ”

“Théâtres de verdure”, under the direction of Nathalie Deguen and Marie-Caroline Thuillier, preface by William Christie, Gourcuff-Gradenigo ed., 208 p, 49 €.

If it should not be confused with the “simple” garden theater or the open-air theater, it is because of its essentially vegetal character: “room” of greenery, “parterre” of grass and “stage” on the ground floor. decoration of topiaries of yew or boxwood transposed, in the XVIIe and XVIIIe centuries, the architecture of private theaters of the mansions of the aritocracy. The preservation of some of these vegetable candy boxes is a miracle. Nevertheless, in the XIXe and in XXe century, the maintenance, restoration or creation of authentic green theaters continued. Among those who have stood the test of time: the green theater of Villa reale di Marlia, in Italy, which dates back to the XVIIe century; that of the royal gardens of Herrenhausen, in Germany (also of the XVIIe century); or that of Claremont, in England (from the XVIIIe century).

Read also The fascinating topiaries of the Ballue gardens

Closer to home, the green theater of the Château de Groussay, in Ile-de-France (1950); that of the castle of La Ballue, in Brittany (around 1970); that of the Château de Champ de Bataille, in Normandy (in the 1990s); or the Anglo-Chinese one in the Jardin du Bâtiment in Thiré, Vendée, completed the list of these exceptional places. To which must be added the curiosity of the Shakespeare Garden, located in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris. Having taken over from a previous green theater, its particularity is to be dedicated … to the bard of Stratford-upon-Avon. Also its vegetation is inspired by Dream of a summer night and of Storm for its Mediterranean landscapes, the Scottish moor for Macbeth and Hamlet or the forest of Arden for As you would like…

View of the Jardin Shakespeare, at Pré Catelan, in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris.

If the “comedy room” designed by André Le Nôtre for the Tuileries has disappeared, the grove of the Water Theater of Versailles, also due to the “gardener” of Louis XIV, has been the subject of a resolutely contemporary recreation. by the landscape designer Louis Benech and the artist Jean-Michel Othoniel. Around the nucleus of “authentic” green theaters, which constitute the idealized setting for “aristocratic” performances, Resthever brings together or accompanies water or open-air theaters which present musical or theatrical shows. In the disorder, among others: the water theater of the Faisanderie, in the Potager des princes, in Chantilly, the Shakespeare Garden, already mentioned, or the gardens of the conductor William Christie in Thiré, in Vendée, during ‘an annual baroque music festival.

View of the Anglo-Chinese garden by conductor William Christie, in Thiré, Vendée.

With most of the previous season’s performances having been canceled due to Covid, organizers are hoping for the audience to return during the summer, along with the necessary benevolence from the heavens. But wouldn’t the stormy raindrops or the untimely cries of birds be part of the spectacle too?

Resthever (Network of green theaters), 2021 festival agenda on networkheatreverdure.com

Jardins de La Ballue, Bazouges-la-Pérouse (Ille-et-Vilaine), “The arts in the garden” weekend, June 26 and 27: “Topiary art, green theater and live performance”, in partnership with Resthever and the Figure Project association (which presents the “Extension sauvage” dance program).

Green theater of the Shakespeare Garden, allée de la Reine-Marguerite, route de Suresnes, Le Pré Catelan, Bois de Boulogne, Paris 16e, shows showing and schedule of performances on jardinshakespeare.com

Festival “In the gardens of William Christie”, from August 21 to 28, 2021, in Thiré (Vendée).