About the past and the future of the Theatre
First decades of Theatre de Carouge-Atelier de Genève
During the summer of 1957, the company, led by François Simon, performs Hamlet at the Greek theatre of the International School of Geneva. The company begins searching for a more permanent home and eventually sets up inside the condemned Cardinal-Mermillod Parish Hall in Carouge. It is here that they dub themselves the Théâtre de Carouge. Their first official appearance is their production of Twelfth Night in the autumn of 1958. This production reaffirms the company's aim: "to offer and return to the general public plays that have been selected above all for their universal nature." On 2 April 1967, the troupe must bid farewell to the Mermillod Hall.
The new Théâtre de Carouge is inaugurated on 21 April 1972, also with a production of Twelfth Night. The building houses a 400-seat auditorium with the biggest stage in French-speaking Switzerland, but the stage house, constructed beneath the stage to hide it from view, poses operational problems. Faced with this architectural impediment, director Philippe Mentha steps down. To compensate for the shortfall in subsidies, a partnership is formed with the Théâtre de l'Atelier in Geneva. Thus, the Théâtre de Carouge becomes the Théâtre de Carouge-Atelier de Genève.
1980-2000 : a golden era
Next on the scene is François Rochaix, who revives the classical repertoire. His directing is audacious, his playwrights of choice Shakespeare and Brecht. In the autumn of 1981, the actor Georges Wod takes the helm. In his first season as director, he manages to multiply the number of season ticket holders by five. The number of season ticket-holders exceeds 11,000 for the 1993-1994 season. In 1986, the administrative offices are set up inside a barn which has been renovated to include a rehearsal space and a second auditorium with a capacity of 135 seats, today known as the Gérard-Carrat auditorium.
In 1997, the Théâtre de Carouge Association, the legal entity adopted in 1960, becomes the Foundation which today owns the trademark.
In the early years of the 21st Century
Following his stint as artistic director of the 1999 edition of the legendary Fête des Vignerons (Winegrowers' Festival), François Rochaix returns as director of the Théâtre de Carouge in 2002. He directs a repertoire of contemporary plays, including Tartuffe and Life of Galileo. In parallel, he dedicates the use of the Gérard-Carrat auditorium to the development of modern works by playwrights such as Jacques Probst and Dominique Ziegler.
In 2008, Jean Liermier is appointed director. Despite being the first director not to have any direct connection to the Theatre's founders, he remains loyal to the classical repertoire of popular theatre, directing plays by playwrights such as Molière. He also lends the stage to renowned French-speaking and international figures such as Piotr Fomenko and Michel Piccoli
Further construction needs
With its 447 seats, the François-Simon auditorium is the public face of the Théâtre de Carouge-Atelier de Genève. However, the theatre also rents over 2200m2 of additional space per year for the creation of costumes and sets, as well as the day-to-day running of the theatre's activities. The administrative offices, props area, rehearsal room and Gérard-Carrat auditorium are all located at 57 Rue Ancienne. This space, rented by the theatre since 1986, is vital to its existence. However, the lease for this building will expire in 2020. A new building - one with a more rational, modern, sustainable design - is needed if the Théâtre de Carouge-Atelier de Genève is to survive.