Féerie - Oxford Reference

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The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance


A spectacular story of the supernatural, associated almost exclusively with popular French theatre of the nineteenth century. Originating earlier in the fairground theatres, féeries shared the same black-and-white approach to morality as *melodrama, though the *action of the féerie invariably involved *magical effects, which were executed by increasingly versatile stage machinery, and extended beyond the purely human. Féeries could be seen in most of the major Parisian theatres, though the genre defied definition and was often aligned the *pantomime and *operetta. Early féeries included Cuvelier de Trie's Tom Thumb (1801) and Puss-in-Boots (1802), and a spectacular *comedy with magic effects by Alphonse Martainville, The Sheep's Foot (1806). But the most celebrated was probably Anicet Bourgeois and Laurent's The Pills of the Devil (1839), in which the unfortunate *hero was subjected to every trick the scenic mechanist could devise. Toward the end of the century the féerie came to be regarded as suitable mainly for children and disappeared into other modes of spectacular performance.

Simon Williams

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