Jean-Louis Barrault

  • Thomas Leabhart
Part of the Modern Dramatists book series (MD)


The ugly child with large head and bowed legs who needed eighteen months to learn to walk would later be noted for his exceptional beauty and grace in movement. His father died when he was a youngster, and he says he has spent his life ‘looking for the Father’ (Barrault, 1972, p. 29). Barrault especially like mathematics, sometimes solved problems while dreaming, and loved to realise two-dimensional drawings three-dimensionally. Like Decroux, he knew manual labour, having worked as a shepherd, a grape-grower, a harvester and a flower-salesman. Barrault studied briefly at the Ecole du Louvre, but his attempts at painting were unsuccessful. It was a letter he sent to Charles Dullin at the Théâtre de l’Atelier that found him his vocation. Although Barrault had dreamed of acting, he had been to the theatre perhaps ten times in his life. He was auditioned by Dullin, allowed to attend classes at the Atelier school free of charge, and on 8 September 1931, his twenty-first birthday, appeared on stage for the first time, as a servant in Volpone.


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Copyright information

© Thomas Leabhart 1989

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  • Thomas Leabhart

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