The Théâtre des Célestins is found on Place des Célestins in Lyon’s 2nd Arrondissement. Extensively refurbished from 2002 – 2005, the theatre was originally designed by Gaspard André, and was inaugurated in 1877. Together with Paris’ Comédie-Française and Théâtre de l’Odéon, Théâtre des Célestins is one of only three French theatres with more than 200 years’ continual usage. Today the theatre is publicly owned and is managed by the city of Lyon.
The theatre is named after a convent and church of the Celestine Roman Catholic Monastic order, which stood on the site from 1407 to 1789. It was rebuilt and renovated a number of times during the Fifteenth century and fell victim to significant fires that destroyed part or all of it in 1501, 1622 and 1744. In 1788, reform of monastic orders resulted in the definitive closure of the monastery, leading to the nature of the site changing yet again. It expanded beyond rue Charles Dullin and rue Gaspard André, thoroughfares were created and ultimately all traces of the former convent disappeared.
Théâtre des Variétés – The Original Theatre
The ‘Société des Célestins’ followed by the ‘Compagnie des Célestins’ were founded in 1789, with the explicit purpose of “the establishment of a garden at the centre of the former Celestine lands, the construction of 17 houses around the garden, the distribution and repair of the cloister building to form 7 private houses, in one of which shall be built a theatre”. This company commissioned the architects Morand and Colson to design and construct the theatre. This building was inaugurated on the 9th of April 1792. It is believed that Napoleon I attended a show during the Consulte de Lyon of 1802.
Decline, closure, destruction and rebirth
In 1833, a lengthy dispute with the Lyonnais authorities over rent led to the theatre’s closure. The city authorities proceeded to construct another theater situated on what is today the Place des Jacobins, which remained open until 1840. At the same time, the authorities took control of the Théâtre des Variétés and reopened it in 1838. Unfortunately it was entirely destroyed by a fire in 1871. Following its destruction, the noted architect from Lyon, Gaspard André, was commissioned with its reconstruction. The new building which was inaugurated on the 1st of August 1877 but damaged by fire on the night of the 25th–26th of May 1880. André was once more called in to oversee its repair.
Monument historique and Renovation
The theater was officially recognised as a Historical Monument of France in 1997. In 2003, a major project of modernization work that necessitated a two year closure. The theater’s interior areas were redeveloped and a smaller theater, la Célestine, was constructed in the building’s basement floor. This smaller room has a capacity for 130 people.
The renovated Célestins theatre reopened in 2005, significant refurbishment had recreated the original splendor of the 1881 version, and the mural decors and mosaics of Gaspard André had been restored.
Philosophy and programme
Théâtre des Célestins prides itself on being an innovative and outward-looking production company. It has developed numerous partnerships throughout Europe, and its invitees include not only the most famous international stars but also new, young talent. Its programme spans key works from France’s classical tradition and modern theatrical productions.
Claudia Stavisky has been artistic director since 2000. Originally alone in that role, she was joined in 2002 by Patrick Penot, and in 2014 by Marc Lesage.
Bar-restaurant l’Étourdi is located on level -1, and is open before and after each performance. Reservations can be made online at: letourdi.restaurant-du-theatre.fr
The theatre has a partnership with the nearby Grand Café des Négociants located at 1 Place Francisque Régaud, 69002 Lyon (see website www.lesnegociants.com ).
Before and after each performance a 15% reduction is available upon presentation of theatre tickets.
Programme and Tickets: To consult the upcoming programme, or by tickets, go to the theatre’s website https://web.digitick.com/index-css5-celestins-pg1.html
Visit the theater
Guided tours of the theatre are available. To organise a group visit contact Mme Myriam Déléage on 04 72 77 48 63 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visits for individuals (lasting 90 minutes) are organised one Saturday in each month and begin at 10:30am.
Reservation is obligatory, full price tickets are €8.00, concession rate €5.00, and children under 10 years of age can visit for free.
The theatre is sensitive to those with special needs and patrons are asked to inform ticket staff of any specific requirements when reserving or buying tickets.
There is direct access to the auditorium via an elevator which is located at 4 rue Charles Dullin. It facilitates entry to the orchestra pit and stalls, together with the Célestine theater and the Etourdi bar. When performances are not taking place, the elevator can be used to access the ticket office.
- Hard of hearing
Headsets are available, for no extra charge, upon presentation of ID.
Address: 4 Rue Charles Dullin, 69002 Lyon
Transport: The theatre is approximately 7 minutes walk from Bellecour metro station (lines A and D).Prices: Prices may vary greatly and there are a number of offers for regular theatre-goers . A somewhat typical range for the one off attendance of show might be from €21.00 to €43.00