Hearing the theatre. A sound journey through 20th century French theatre

, updated on
17 July 2021
Paolo Chiabrando - Unsplash

Based on the listening of archives, the educational website designed by ECHO, an ANR project, offers a rediscovery of the theatre as an acoustic, phonic and auditory place.

Dedicated to the scenic "spoken" voice, ECHO, mainly with the help of audio archives, studied what it had become in France from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 1990s. Wishing to disseminate its results widely by making people listen to these archives, the team has chosen to create an educational website, produced by the BnF's multimedia editions and hosted in the "Classes" section of the institutional website.


Théâtre de l’Avenue, rue du Colisée


  • Marie-Madeleine Mervant-Roux, Emeritus Research Director at the CNRS, member of THALIM (project leader)
  • Partners: Joël Huthwohl, Director of the Department of Performing Arts at the BnF (project partner), and Brian Katz, Research Director at the CNRS, member of the LIMSI (project partner), head of the Acoustic Audio team, now a member of the Jean Le Rond d'Alembert Institute, Sorbonne University.
  • About 30 people, members or associates of THALIM, LIMSI and BnF + post-docs and students






May 2014. « Son, Musique et Acoustique à l’Athénée Louis Jouvet », Paris, Théâtre de l’Athénée. Unpublished lectures. Programme

  • B. Sebald & M-G Soret, « Louis Jouvet et la question sonore »
  • J. Bovet, « Louis Jouvet et la dramaturgie du microphone : autour de l’Intermezzo de Jean Giraudoux »
  • M-M Mervant-Roux & B. Katz, « Oralité et acoustique au Théâtre de l’Athénée depuis 1980 »

June 2015. « Music, Voice and Orality in Performance History », International Workshop, hosted by the University of Amsterdam. Unpublished lectures.

  • V. Tkaczyk (UvA/MPIWG), “Knowledge of the Ear: Auditory Memory in the Arts and Sciences around 1900”
  • M-M Mervant-Roux (ARIAS/THALIM), “‘Detecting’ Rather Than ‘Decreeing’ Past Sensibilities”
  • C. Birdsall (UvA), “Voice, Performance and Radio Archives”
  • M. van Drie (ARIAS/THALIM), “Epistemological Questions around the French National Library’s Theatre Audio Archives”
  • R. Franzen (UvA), “Voices in the Archive and Voices on Stage: A Comparison”
  • H. Bouvier (ARIAS/THALIM), “An Experimental Use of Theatre Sound Archives”

November 2015. « L’écho du théâtre : dynamiques et construction de la mémoire phonique, XXe-XXIe siècles », 1st international symposium ECHO, Hélène Bouvier and Marion Chénetier-Alev (ed.), Paris, ENS, Theatre. colloque_echo_programme.pdf Site du colloque « L’écho du théâtre »

December 2016. « La scène parle. Voix, acoustiques et auralités en France dans la seconde moitié du XXe siècle », 2nd international symposium ECHO, Paris, INHA, auditorium. prog_bios_res_colloque_la_scene_parle_7_8_dec2016.pdf

May 2018. « Autour du théâtre comme espace auditif. Architecture, histoire, physique, philosophie », study day organised by ECHO and SIAP (International Society for Architecture and Philosophy), Paris, INHA, Vasari Hall.

June 2018. « Chaillot, lieu de tous les arts », study days organised by the National Archives, the National Library of France, the ANR ECHO project, the Archives Mission of the Interministerial Service of the Archives of France and Chaillot-Théâtre national de la Danse, at the National Archives (Pierrefitte-sur-Seine) and at the BnF (Richelieu site). See the book publication from the study days: