Dossier sur la pièce Cristobal



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Important file concerning Cristobal, play in 3 acts by Charles Exbrayat, first performed on 15 May 1943 at the Théâtre Montparnasse. With an unpublished autograph manuscript, stage photographs, a programme, photographic reproductions of models of sets and costumes, and correspondence.

Charles Exbrayat made his debut as a playwright with One-way ticketplayed without much success in Geneva. He then gave The gardener's daughterdirected by Marcel Herrand at the Théâtre des Mathurins. Cristobalthe life of Christopher Columbus in a prologue and three acts, was his third play. Annette or Butterfly hunt to the young Colombier. A dialogue writer for the cinema and already the author of several novels, Exbrayat had not yet begun to explore the vein of detective fiction that would make his reputation during the Occupation.
Jean Dacante, director of the Compagnie d'Art dramatique, chooses Cristobal for his very first production. The play, which premiered on 15 May 1943 at the Théâtre Montparnasse Gaston Baty, met with some success: critics generally praised the nuanced performance of Lucien Nat (Colomb), the costumes, the sets, the director's good taste and the breadth of the subject matter ("Cristobal brings a breath of fresh air to the French stage", The Theatre27 May 1943). Others criticised Exbrayat's choice of a well-known historical subject to produce a show entitled "with no unexpected surprises" (Socialist France 3/6/1943). Cristobal will see 100 performances.

The file includes :
- A UNPUBLISHED AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF ACT 3 of the play [1] ff. - 16 pp. handwritten in blue ink. Faded leaves. An ageing Columbus desperately seeks financial recognition and the title of Viceroy of the Indies from King Ferdinand - it is in these circumstances that Amerigo Vespucci informs him that he has not touched the Indies, but a new continent. A few erasures and corrections. The very end of the play was also changed for the performances: the journalists of the Petit Parisien (24/5/43) and La Gerbe (3/6/1943) quote a different line from the one in the manuscript.
- 16 stage photos (239 x 179 mm), contemporary silver print on mat paper. One with a letter from the director Maurice Fraigneau. Signed Studio Harcourt in the negative. Silver prints from the period. Stamped on the back: Pierre Jamet.
- Small programme from the Théâtre Montparnasse Gaston Baty ([4] ff., 100 x 131 mm) with a text by Jean Darcante, a reproduction of Couallier's model for the set of Act II, and a text by Exbrayat on Christopher Columbus.
- 2 photographic reproductions of drawings by R. PH. Couallier, set designs of the piece, which will be produced by Jean and Émile Bertin. 230 x 143 mm; 230 x 172 mm; stamp: photo by Pierre Jamet. With a set photography. 230 x 168 mm, stamped on the back: Louis Silvestre.
- 7 photographic reproductions (one in duplicate) of costume models par Rosine Delamare: Columbus, Sister Mary of the Angels, Pinzon, Diego, Juan de la Cosa, the sailor

And correspondence from the director, Jean Darcante. With :
- 3 cards and 4 telegrams of encouragement sent before the première: Rosine Delamare (actress and costume designer for the play), France Ellys (actress), Christian Casadéus (actor and theatre director)... 7 pages in various formats.
- 6 letters and a card of compliments: Roger Régent (journalist and film critic), Jean Berger (actor)... 8 pages in various formats.
- Autograph letter signed by Michel Florisoone, art historian and curator, to Jean Darcan; in it Florisoone requests a photograph of the staging of Cristobal for the fascicule. A year at the Theatre (1 f. recto). With a copy of Darcan's typed reply (1 f. recto). A notice on Cristobal will appear in Florisoone and Raymond Cogniat's booklet :

"to preserve sufficient interest in a play whose outcome is known from the moment the curtain rises, and which refuses all help from surprise in advance, requires great perfection of form and complete certainty of thought".



Charles Exbrayat

(Saint-Étienne: 5 May 1906 - Saint-Étienne: 8 March 1989)

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