The Montansier Theater (38 rue Montpensier)
In 1790, the Beaujoulais theater, founded by the Duke of Orléans, was taken over by Mademoiselle Montansier. The following year, royal privileges were abolished for the theater. Performance spaces quickly multiplied and there was tremendous competition between private theaters. At first, the Montansier Theater struggled to find its audience. However, since it was located in the center of the Palais-Royal, it succeeded in making a name for itself. Closely monitored, it was also seen as an immoral place: “[The] theater owned by citizen Montansier (…) swarms everyday with prostitutes, financial speculators, crooks, swindlers and thieves,” a police commissioner lamented. In 1798, the Montansier became the Variety Theater. Today, it is known as the Palais-Royal Theater.
38 rue Montpensier
The Palais-Royal and its neighborhood
Rose Bertin, Milliner to the Queen
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A woman of the theater and power: Marguerite Brunet, otherwise known as Mademoiselle Montansier
The woman who was once nicknamed “the” Montansier is now forgotten. And yet, she was a very powerful woman in her time. Very quickly, she left behind her career as an actress in order to manage troupes of actors. Endowed with a strong artistic taste, a good network of people and a solid sense of business, she succeeded in constructing a theatrical empire under the absolute monarchy. Having become the royal court’s theater director, she even dreamed of one day obtaining the general privilege for all of the theaters in the kingdom! Not surprisingly, the revolutionaries did not like her very much: she was much too close with Marie-Antoinette. In 1789, pornographic stories tried to tarnish the reputation of the woman who was now called the “fat Montansier.” Three years later, in order to prove her good Republican faith, she sent a troupe to Belgium, which had been invaded by French armies: the theater was then used to expand Republican values outside of France.