Female actor crying

French theater troupe L’Avant-Scène marks 20th anniversary with shows, guest speakers

Celebrations for the 20th anniversary of L'Avant-Scène, Princeton University’s French Theater Workshop, include public talks, panels and performances of Feydeau's farce "Le Dindon," April 18-20. Pictured: Lana Gaige '24 (left) and Clément Génibrèdes, a graduate student in French and Italian, in "Le Dindon."

Florent  Masse smiling

Florent Masse

A weekend of festivities is planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of L’Avant-Scène, Princeton University’s French Theater Workshop, April 18-20. For two decades, Princeton undergraduate and graduate students from across academic disciplines have performed full-length plays in French under the direction of Florent Masse, professor of the practice in French and Italian, founder of the program.

The celebration features a revival of L'Avant-Scène's first full production — Georges Feydeau’s farce “Le Dindon,” first produced on campus in 2004 — running April 18–20 at the Wallace Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts. Public conversations and panels will feature Rima Abdul Malak, former French Minister of Culture; Mohamed Bouabdallah, cultural counselor of the French Embassy; filmmaker Alice Diop; Pierre Gendronneau, a 2012 graduate and deputy director of the Avignon Festival; Sandy Ouvrier, director of the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD) in Paris; and L'Avant-Scène alumni.

Since its founding in 2004, L’Avant-Scène has produced an average of four full-length plays each year, including classics and contemporary plays from the French repertoire. About 120 Princeton students have participated in the program, many in multiple productions.

"With L'Avant-Scène, I found a family outside of my academic life," said Laurent Pueyo, a 2008 graduate alumnus who performed with the ensemble for five years while earning his Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering. “It gave me a place to forget about the ups and down of research.”

Pueyo is traveling from Baltimore, where he is an associate astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, for the celebration, and is looking forward to reuniting with friends. Mina Morova, a member of the Class of 2007 who majored in comparative literature and is L'Avant-Scène's alumni president, is coming from Dubai, where she is an international arbitration lawyer.

Morova performed in a French theater troupe during high school and learned about L'Avant-Scène during orientation week at Princeton. Learning the lines and performing in plays by great French writers challenged her "to digest and decipher the meanings behind the lines," she said.

Partnerships with Princeton’s Humanities Council, Lewis Center for the Arts, the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (CNSAD) in Paris and the French Embassy in New York, among others, have allowed Masse to expand Princeton’s French theater community to include interdisciplinary courses, trips abroad and Seuls en Scène, an annual festival dedicated to bringing French theater-makers to Princeton's campus every September.

Masse also teaches the course "French Theater Workshop," offered by the Department of French and Italian. He leads L’Avant-Scène in Paris, an annual trip where students train with members of the CNSAD and attend plays.

A full list of the weekend's festivities and ticket information is available online.

  • Three actors on stage in converstation.

    Clément Génibrèdes (left), a graduate student in French and Italian; Gil Joseph '25; and Lana Gaige '24 in a scene from Feydeau's farce "Le Dindon."

  • Two actors in dialogue

    Clément Herman, a graduate student in economics, and Lana Gaige '24 in a scene from Feydeau's farce "Le Dindon."

  • Two actors embracing.

    Flora Champy (left), assistant professor of French and Italian, and Darius Ganza '24 in a scene from Feydeau's farce "Le Dindon."

Jamie Saxon contributed reporting to this story.