Intermediate french absurdist theatre: La Cantatrice Chauve

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Here’s a tip I got from my bookworm partner: reading a play is an easy win. Plays are much shorter in terms of word count than novels, yet for some reason reading a play feels like a big accomplishment.

This is especially true of La Cantatrice Chauve by Eugène Ionesco, which is both one of the most performed plays in France and entirely composed of parodies of the texts from Assimil brand language lessons. It’s as if it was invented to help beginner french readers feel like they are making progress.

This play is also straight-up hilarious, to the point that I was obnoxious to be around while reading it. Comedy is famously hard to translate, so reading the jokes in their original form felt like a great use for a second language.

La Cantatrice Chauve is a major work of theatre of the absurd, so odds are good your library will have or be able to get a copy for you. There are multiple productions of the play on YouTube that could make for good for listening practice, although I haven’t found a particularly excellent video yet.