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Le Théâtre de Bligny, patrimoine d'intérêt régional d'Île-de-France

A parody of songs composed by Monsieur Duchesne, a resident of Bligny who offered it to the director of the "Philanthropic Work of Popular Sanatoriums of Paris" in 1907 as a sign of recognition

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translated text to make it more consistent with the true English language

It all began in 1898 and came to fruition on August 8, 1903.

By inventing the revolutionary concept of the Bligny Sanatoriums in the last days of the twentieth century, the founders-patrons and the medical scientists at the origin of its glorious history have implemented what medical historians will remember name of "Bligny Method".

 

Thus, contrary to what was practiced at the time, it was considered that taking into account the psyche and the morale of tuberculosis patients was as important as trying to treat their body, at a time when the disease was not cured.

 

Bligny's doctors then integrated into the therapeutic process of the time a whole series of cultural and artistic activities obligatory in order to "maintain an optimistic and joyous spirit": of the theater, the singing, the painting, the photography, the dance and music, and all kinds of cultural and fun activities.

Congress of doctors discovering Bligny, 1904

The results - from a medical point of view - did not fail to be felt and the old beards of the academy quickly stopped laughing and laughing.

 

Bligny is not the inventor of art therapy, but Bligny is the first to have put his principles into action on such a scale, mobilizing as many human and logistical resources, and financial means. Against all odds.

Residents-artists of Bligny costumed for an operetta, written, mounted, built and played on the spot without any external intervention: The conquered Cockroach ". 1921.

Between the two World Wars, the "Bligny method" was adopted by almost all the sanatoriums in France, radically transforming the life and the future of long-term residents of sanatoriums, whatever their social condition.

 

Bligny still invented the concept of "project of exit" when traditionally one never left a sanatorium, if not the feet in front.

 

Thus, from the opening of the Bligny sanatoria, with the encouragement and funding of the management, the residents (we did not call them "patients") have engaged in making shows of all kinds, in total autarky.

 

They did everything: the costumes, the sets, the staging (we talked about "regie" at the time); they formed teams, distributed themselves the functions -artistic and technical- repeated, learned, played comedy, sang, played music, drew posters and printed booklets, and several periods in the year were dedicated to great festivals where our artists performed in the Bligny concert halls, in front of their audience of tuberculosis patients, during concerts, operettas, plays, ballets, and even very good operas.

Bligny women costumed for an operetta. 20s

The Association of the Bligny Hospital Center still has "Louis Lumière" photography plates reproducing posters of shows given in the 10s and 20s,

 

which would not detract from the showcases of the great Parisian theaters of the time. It was the heroic period that lasted until the construction of the Bligny Theater in 1934.

Affiche du spectacle du 15 août 1912 à Bligny

BLIGNY: Performing arts factory for more than 115 years

 

The second period, which lasted from Wednesday, September 19, 1934, the day of the inauguration at the end of the Second World War, can be described as "apotheosis".

 

Indeed, the famous doctor Louis Guinard, first doctor-director of the Works of the Sanatoriums Populaires of Paris on the hill of Bligny had managed to convince the patrons that it had come time to put at the disposal of the artists-boarders of the means professional to to give more strength to the "medical redemption" experienced by tuberculosis patients through their artistic activities.

 

Bligny was once more a precursor, and once again this changed the situation. The shows took an outfit that we can never tax amateurism. The exceptional technical resources available to the artists of Bligny gave their productions a scale never equaled and the patrons - sensitively sensitized by Bligny - wanted to make their contribution to the building, multiplying the means at the disposal of the creation of plays. theaters, recitals of songs and other operettas.

 

Thus, in 1930, the piano manufacturer Pleyel offered a grand-concert piano worth 6000 francs to the Bligny Sanatoriums - a considerable sum at the time.

 

The instruments of the orchestra (now all missing) were offered by the most renowned instrument makers, while record companies regularly gave their last editions to sanatoriums and the nightclub Theater Bligny had hundreds titles (some were found during historical research related to the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the theater in 2014), not to mention the cinematheque.

 

At the end of the 30s, the inhabitants of Fontenay-lès-Briis saw -médusés- rows of cars with gentlemen of the upper and ladies in hat, come from Paris to attend the performance of Paris stars specially engaged, who were performed at the Théâtre de Bligny for these privileged rich, outside the presence of the residents -because of the fear of contagion was strong- which gave the opportunity to important fundraising for the benefit of sanatoriums (which remained a private philanthropic work ), and of course its theater, makes heritage heritage shows.

At the end of the Second World War, the residents and staff of Bligny sanatoriums had the urban director Urbain Guinard (son of the great Louis) built and given an exact reproduction of the theater as it was in 1945 .

 

This model is kept in one of the corridors of the theater in its original glass cabinet.

 

This anecdote makes it possible to become well aware of the importance that the Theater of Bligny had for these people, and how much this spectacle factory had served to the salutary resilience of these people carrying an incurable disease.

Model of the Bligny Theater offered by the boarders and the staff to Dr. Urbain Guinard, director of the sanatoriums and the Theater of Bligny in 1945 at the end of the war. During World War II, so-called "marginal" health centers such as psychiatric hospitals, leprosaria and sanatoriums in the countryside were totally abandoned by the Vichy regime. Thousands of people have died of starvation in appalling conditions. In Bligny, no one died of lack of food or care. The private institution was totally autonomous in terms of food and all the available land was converted into vegetable crops, orchards or greenhouses. There were three farms in the sanatorium, raising rabbits, sheep, pigs and chickens. The only foods bought outside were milk and beef (the management considering that the pastures occupied too much space) were provided by the farms of Fontenay-lès-Briis and Biis-sous-Forges. A few days before the liberation, all the inhabitants of Bligny hill (boarders, caregivers, farmers, employees, sisters ...) came out of the sanatoriums in a frenzied fashion, running down the hill to greet the tanks and fighters from the Leclerc Division passing down the Limours Road. Never seen....

The Bligny Theater: Tube factory at the end of the war!

 

 

After the Second World War, curative treatments for the disease, which had been expected for centuries finally arrived and the Bligny Sanatoriums opened up on the outside.

 

The story is written like this - that the famous professor Georges Canetti of the Institut Pasteur (the co-inventor of the curative tritherapies of tuberculosis) had a brother named Jacques. (the other brother was Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize for Literature)

Jacques Canetti and his artists

Jacques Canetti was the director of the "Trois Baudets" theater in Pigalle in the 1950s.

 

It was also the brilliant producer who was able to find young artists become mythical like Jacques Brel, George Brassens or Juliette Greco, to speak only of those.

 

Here they are: Jean-Louis Barrault, Bourvil, Noël-Noel, Jacques Brel, Maurice Bacquet, Jean Nohain, Fernandel, Georges Brassens, Louis de Funes, Jean Poiret, Michel Serrault, Pierre Dac. But also Jean Amadou, Pierre-Jean Vaillard, Raymond Soupleix, Jean Breton, Anne-Marie Carriere, and all the others we remember today, or not.

 

They all came to Bligny at their beginnings.

 

Their producer had cleverly managed to make them integrate that "If Bligny laughs, Paris laugh. If Bligny likes, Paris will love. " And they did not come just by philanthropy (and volunteering) to distract the sick people.

 

No, they came with their authors and their team to test their device before facing the fangs of Paris: validate their artistic choices, try their tricks, check the laughter ; sometimes correct their lyrics or the order of their songs ; break their quetsches, strengthen the cohesion of their orchestra and "flee Paris".

 

Other Parisian cabarets including the Caveau de la République also participated in this movement.

 

Here again, Bligny played his historical role as a spectacle factory.

 

Bligny at the edge of the 21st century.

 

 

And then the tuberculosis patients were cured and the sanatoriums have been depopulated for the first time in France for over 1,500 years.

 

Bligny began its slow transformation into a general hospital, and in 1971, the Bligny Theater closed after a final film session.

 

For thirty years.

The Bligny Theater disused. 80s

Became a storeroom where all the rubbish of the hospital was crammed in bulk, it sank into oblivion, leaving its mossy facade to rise like a silent reproach in the heart of the new Medical Center of Bligny.

 

It will take the alert launched by a local elected, then the ambition of the presidency of the Bligny Medical Center Association, and the financial support of the partner communes, the department, the region and the state so that finally, after two years of work resulting in a total rehabilitation of the interior of the building, the Bligny Theater reopens its doors in September 2004.

 

 

The modern period confirms the historical momentum.

 

 

In 2004, the presidency of the Bligny Medical Center Association authorized the founding of the Bligny Theater Association, which is now the theater operator, and made the strategic (historic) choice to entrust the management of the Théâtre de Bligny. to an artist rather than a manager. It was first François Chaffin in 2004, playwright and director with the Company of the Liar; then Nicolas Hocquenghem since 2009: actor and director with the Compagnie Théâtrale de la Cité.

This choice - which initially seemed incongruous to some - allowed the continuity of the glorious history of the Théâtre de Bligny as a spectacle factory, despite the reduction of resources. Indeed, these creators will not only produce their own creations.

 

They go - it is a request of the hospital - to welcome artists in residence, who create their shows for the theater, the dance and the music, reinventing an art of doing, installing the best conditions possible to allow the artists to create freely; thus perpetuating the tradition instituted on the Bligny hill at the beginning of the 20th century.

 

 

And now ?

 

 

The confirmation of the support of local, departmental, regional and national institutions for the perpetuation of this historic momentum allows the Théâtre de Bligny - cultural exception in rural Essonne - to confirm its vocation as a place of residence for artists in creation, for theater, dance, music, circus and all innovative forms of multimedia shows; to reinforce its means and the quality of its support for artists, without altering its vocation of broadcasting spectacles of all kinds for the public of the patients of the hospital, and that of the inhabitants of the villages of the neighboring countryside. Today, after much uncertainty, we can say that the Théâtre de Bligny is saved. However, one should not rest on valiantly won laurels ...

The theater in 2017 during an artist residency (excluding public). After a week of work, the artists (here the singer Luciole and its musicians, producers, consultants and technicians) reach the end of their creative process and will present the result of their work to the public the next day. "Chaud devant..."