The building’s exterior is pretty unassuming, but the word "theatre", visible above the entrance door of what could be a rather mundane building, is intriguing...
The interior is surprisingly flamboyant, inspired by Italian-style theatres.
The inscription painted on the guard rail of the second gallery – RF 1881 – suggests that the work was completed on this date.
The Italianate decor is mainly composed of gold and red polychrome paintings, medallions and cartouches. You can admire the valance of the old proscenium curtain, painted to imitate tapestry and bearing the initials of Charles Carré.
A token of love
Charles Carré, a solicitor in Chagny, found among the red armchairs an echo of the passion he devoted to his mistress, a singer whose name posterity has not retained ... She wanted a theatre, to which he devoted his fortune to please her.
Barely had the gold decoration been finished, when the beauty took flight and left her penniless solicitor with a theatre that was wonderful, but empty.
Despite this emotional and financial bankruptcy, the theatre enjoyed enough success once it opened to the public to attract the interest of the town of Chagny, which bought it from the solicitor.
From being a movie theatre in the early 20th century, it became a ballroom until around the 1960s.
Tribute to Copeau
After a complete renovation, on 18th May 1996, the building officially became known as the "Théâtre des Copiaus" in tribute to Jacques Copeau, a pioneer of cultural decentralisation.
He returned to the principles of the Elizabethan theatre that marked the days of Shakespeare, whose writing was addressed as much to the aristocracy as the people, thus uniting all strata of society in a single artistic emotion.
His thinking left its mark on French theatre of the 20th century, as Albert Camus said: "In the history of French theatre, there are two periods: before and after Copeau".
Jacques Copeau and his company lived in Pernand-Vergelesses and left their mark in the local dialect: actors are affectionately known there as "the Copiaus".
The choice of the name "Copiaus" seemed obvious for Chagny’s theatre, as it refers here to the notion of troop and team.