New catalogue opens up archive of early- to mid- 20th century French Catholic theatre



Professor Henry Phillips has created a complete catalogue for the archives of French theatrical entrepreneur Henri Brochet.

Available online, the catalogue opens up this resource for historical analysis of early 20th century French theatre culture.

Research into Catholic culture in French theatre creates a new archive catalogue, paving the way for wider public access.

As part of his on-going research into Catholic culture in French 20th century theatre, Professor Henry Phillips became aware of the Henri Brochet archives in Auxerre, France. The archives were not organised in such a way as to make meaningful analysis possible or to allow local historians or members of the public to use them to explore their local heritage.

Professor Phillips therefore classified all the artefacts and resources of the collection and created photographic copies of theatre posters and maquettes in the archive, opening up the collection for use.

Key benefits of the catalogue:
• Highly organised
• Four key words can search the entire archive
• Material is connected via a variety of links for easy navigation
• Readers rapidly find what they are searching for
• No academic knowledge is required
• Easily accessible on Auxerre library’s website
• Includes material from outside of France that is connected to Brochet
• Preserves cultural heritage

Our research

Professor Phillips has devoted much of his career to the study of theatre in France and between 2001 and 2005 specifically investigated the role of theatre in French Catholic life and culture in the 20th century. The initial research involved identifying a wide range of sources, including the archival material in the Henri Brochet collections in Auxerre.

Key findings:
• French amateur theatre has been supported by key theatrical figures and members of the clergy alike
• Between 1922 and 1952, Brochet had been a lynchpin in this collaborative enterprise

Use of the Auxerre materials highlighted the major contribution of Brochet to French theatre, including:
• Collaboration with playwright Henri Ghéon and his work to produce a performance repertoire for professionals and amateurs
• Establishment of the journal Jeux, tréteaux et personnages
• Connections to major Canadian and Belgian figures in the Catholic theatre movement