COMPLETE TITLE: La Pratique du Theatre. Oeuvre Tres-Necessaire A tous ceux qui veulent s'appliquer à la Composition des Poëmes Dramatiques, qui font profession de les Reciter en public, ou qui prennent plaisir d'en voir les Representations.
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The first edition was published in Paris in 1657. A few copies are dated 1669 in which only the title page is modified, with the addition of "Par Monsieur Hedelin, Abbé d'Aubignac" and naming Denys Thierry as publisher.
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The work, commissioned by Richelieu, concerns mainly the dramatic composition of the text, but deals also with scenography and contains many important observations on acting. D'Aubignac argues that the work must be credible ("vraisemblance") for the spectator to benefit from it, although the actors must act as if they were alone, independently of the fact of being observed. The representation includes the actors, the scenes and even the spectators and must be in the service of the play. To act properly, d'Aubignac invites actors to warm up the muscles of the body and face, to be able to assume at best the postures necessary to express the emotions of the character rather than acting simply as orators: a play must be acted, not read. While the orator must exalt, using the voice and gestures, the evocative power of the word in order to stimulate the imagination of the public, the actor must give life, on stage, through appropriate facial expressions and gestures, to a character that participates in an imaginary event. D'Aubignac is therefore the first to affirm the existence of a specific difference between acting and oratory.
D'Aubignac prepared a second edition, and a copy on which the additions and corrections are noted is found in the Bibliothèque Nationale di Parigi (Rés. Y. 33).
Second edition: Amsterdam, Chez Jean Frederic Bernard, 1715. La Pratique du Theatre is in the first of the three volumes published by Frédéric Bernard (the second contains Le Discours de Menage, sur la Troisième Comédie de Terence and the third Terence Justifié Ou deux Dissertations sur l'Art du Théâtre). It is a reprint of the first edition in which the spelling is modernized but has numerous mistakes and takes no account of the additions and corrections of the author in the above mentioned copy.
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Reprint of the first edition: La Pratique du Théâtre. Nouvelle édition avec des corrections inédites de l'auteur, une préface et des notes par Pierre Martino, Alger, Jules Carbonel; Paris, Edouard Champion, 1927; Genève, Slatkine reprints, 1996.
Reprint of the edition of 1715: La Pratique du Théâtre und andere Schriften zur 'Doctrine classique' par François Hédelin Abbé d'Aubignac; nachdruck der dreibändigen Ausgabe Amsterdam 1715 mit einer einleiten Abhandlung von Hans-Jörg Neuschäfer, München, W. Fink, 1971; Genève, Slatkine Reprints, 1971. Reproduces the French text of the Amsterdam edition of 1715 with an introduction and notes in German.
La Pratique du Théâtre, ed. by Hélène Baby, Paris, H. Champion, 2001.
English: The Whole Art of the Stage, London, Printed for the Author, and sold by William Cadman, 1684 (see).
German: Gründlicher Unterricht von Ausübung der theatralischen Dichtkunst. Aus dem Französischen übersetztet durch Wolf Balthasar Adolph von Steinwehr, Hamburg, C. König, 1737 (see).