The Lesson (La leçon)
23 Rue de la Huchette, 75005 Paris
Capacity : 85 seats
Suitable for all ages
French with English subtitles
A seemingly innocent exchange in which a shy older teacher meets an outspoken student. Yet the roles are about to change in this surprising face-off! As the lessons become increasingly difficult, the insolent young student loses confidence, all while the teacher seems to be gaining vitality. Will one come out a winner in the end?
This record-breaking play by Eugène Ionesco is the world's longest continually-performing show in a historic Parisian venue. A hillariously troubling commentary on a seemingly unremarkable exchange has been leaving audiences thinking for over 60 years! What was once a rather avant-garde new play, has now become a theatrical institution all its own.
France may have changed, but this historic show surely hasn't. Since The Lesson began playing at the Théâtre Huchette, France has seen nine presidents and four oil crises, yet the show carries on with the same legendary decor, staging, and momentum. Join the over 2.5 milion spectators have seen this Ionesco play in the quaint little Théâtre Huchette.
A great evening at the theatre
The venue, the piece, and the actors' talent is ageless, truly a wonderful moment
A fantastically played classic
The 3 actors immerse us completely in the story of the play, which remains entirely relevant having played without interruption since 1957 in this very theatre. Played wonderfully by the actors, they mastered the art
Théâtre de la Huchette
A creative rebirth
Ending four years of Nazi occupation in 1945; during which censorship, curfews, and alerts practically suffocated all theatrical creation; the liberation paved the way for a creative explosion. Small theatres such as the Vieux Colombier, the Noctambules, Theatre Babylone and more began opening all over Paris, particularly in the Latin Quarter. That's when a fated pair cross paths, Marcel Pinard, the aspiring actor working odd jobs, and Georges Vitaly, the exiled Russian playwright. Pinard convinces his girlfriend at the time to rent out the legendary location at 23 rue Huchette so the two can create a theatre together, Vitaly the brains and playwright in the endeavor, with Pinard providing the location and his acting talent. The pair proves successful, and through the early 1950s the stage welcomed some of France's upcoming actors, including Jacqueline Maillan, Claude Gensac, Monique Delaroche, Pierre Mondy, François Chaumette, Jacques Fabbri, Michel Roux, and more.
A world-record theatre
Eventually Vitaly wants to move his successful plays on to a bigger venue, and he heads to the Théâtre La Bruyère. Under the sole direction of Marcel Pinard, the Théâtre Huchette takes a new direction featuring contemporary theatre. Marcel permanently unites his two leading new shows, Cantatrice Chauve and La Leçon, to create a record-breaking combo. To this day, these two performances remain the longest-running shows continually playing in the same venue, a world record!
An iconic venue
In 1975, Marcel suffers a heart attack in the theatre's tiny ticket booth. Following his death, the troupe battles to save the venue from being shut down and transformed into a restaurant for tourists. They proved successful, and this quaint theatre in the very heart of historic Paris continues to be a place of creative celebration. The headlining shows have become an institution in their own right, and welcome a full house an entire half-century later. This one of the only venues in the world welcoming generation after generation of French and international audiences to see the unchanged pair of shows, which were rather avant-garde at the time of their arrival on stage, and are now beloved classics! A quaint playhouse born in the post-war wave of creativity, the Théâtre Huchette is Parisian must-see, an entirely unexpected find in the very heart of the Latin Quarter.
Such an iconic and historic location though is not without a rumoured past! Tales have been told that prior to the Vitaly-Marcel takeover, the location of the theatre was used by monks of the nearby Saint Séverin church to bury treasure, and a witch is also rumoured to have used the cellar as a meeting point to preach an emerging new religion!
Handicap Accessible? Unfortunately, no. This venue is accessible only via staircase.
Air conditioning? No, but as it is underground, this venue is naturally cool!
Where will I be seated and will I see the subtitles properly?
In this intimate theatre, there is one general seating category available which ensures a comfortable view of the subtitles. Seating is generally on a first-come, first-served basis, and Theatre in Paris guests are invited to arrive early to ensure they are able to select their desired seats.
How do I get to the theatre?
The theatre is accessible by lines 4 & 10, and the easiest metro stations are Saint Michel (Line 4) or Cluny-La Sorbonne (Line 10).Our hotline can be reached in case of difficulty finding the theatre from 10 am to 7pm Paris time. For details, we invite you to consult the map above.
What do I do when I get to the theatre?
We invite you to arrive 15 minutes before the beginning of the show, and present your voucher at the front desk. The theatre's English-speaking staff members will guide you to your seats.
Is a programme included with my ticket?
Tickets for The Lesson do not include a show programme.
How long does the show last?
The show lasts exactly one hour with no intermission.
Is it a show for travellers or French people?
Thanks to English subtitles, both! This Ionesco production has been performed in French for over 60 years in Paris and on tour across Europe, enjoying endless success. The world-record show has become an international institution, a must-see while in Paris for both French and international visitors. With the English subtitles, forget about the language barrier and enjoy an amazing French night out.
Subtitles or surtitles?
Surtitles (also called supertitles) are the theatre equivalent of subtitles or as others may know it, captioned performances. That’s because in French “sur” means “above”. At the Théâtre Huchette, the text is projected above the stage. Read more about surtitles here.
Is tipping customary?
Tips are not mandatory in Parisian theatres. However, ushers will usually expect a small tip of between 2€ and 5€, which you can give them when they've shown you to your seat. Fun fact: the French word for “tip” is “pourboire,” which literally translates to “to have a drink.”