Génica Athanasiou. A Romanian Actress in the Parisian Avant‐ Garde during the Interwar Period.


  • Laurence Meiffret Independent researcher


Génica Athanasiou, Parisian avant-garde, theatre, cinema, actors of Romanian origin


After the armistice in 1919, a young girl of Bucharest, a student of Nicolae Soreanu at the Conservatory of Music and Declamation, decided to leave to study in Paris despite the opposition of her parents. So began the career of Génica Athanasiou (1897‐1966), dedicated to the so‐called “Theater of Artˮ. On the Parisian stage, which was in full renewal, her choice of training goes towards a high stadard, as she takes part at the foundation of l’Atelier, with Charles Dullin (former collaborator of Jacques Copeau). Afterwards, her career demonstrated the same rigor: her work was supervised by directors such as Georges Pitoëff, Antonin Artaud or Jean Cocteau on stage; Germaine Dulac, Jean Grémillon or Georg Wilhelm Pabst behind the camera. A thorough investigation shows that she takes part in all battles of the theatrical avant‐garde, interpreting the first creations of Antonin Artaud, the Théâtre Alfred‐Jarry, Jean‐Louis Barrault and the Compagnie des Quinze (some of Copiaus). Fallen into oblivion after the Second World War, it was still thanks to the network of the avant‐garde that she managed to work, for the new generation of directors: Sacha Pitoëff or Guy Suarès. Her route without compromise illustrates the ethical,  almost monastic ideal, defended by the Théâtre du Vieux‐Colombier and the Cartel’s members: the spirit of the company searches for a collective  transcendence without the temptation of ego, or even stardom, in favor of a collective work raised to a high level of creativity.

Author Biography

Laurence Meiffret, Independent researcher

LAURENCE MEIFFRET, Ph.D at the University of Paris‐I Panthéon‐Sorbonne Nouvelle, in History of Art, was a post‐thesis resident at l’Ecole Française de Rome, which published the last version of her thesis : Saint Antoine ermite en Italie (1340‐ 1540). Spiritualité et programmes picturaux, Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome, n° 324, Rome, 2004. Her research interests are concerned with links between iconography, religious cult and theatre. She was the first director of the Beauport Abbey, a historical monument in North Brittany, working on the restoration project, archeological and historical research, exhibitions, publications and animations (1993‐ 2011). Now an independant researcher, she is currently working on a book focusing on three major women in personal and artistic life of Antonin Artaud : Génica Athanasiou, Alexandra Pecker and Sonia Mossé. She is also preparing an exhibition on Génica Athanasiou, which will take place in the Museum of Romanian Literature, in collaboration with l’Institut Français de Bucarest, during the French‐Romanian Season in 2019.



How to Cite

Meiffret, L. (2022). Génica Athanasiou. A Romanian Actress in the Parisian Avant‐ Garde during the Interwar Period. Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai - Dramatica, 63(2), 27–65. Retrieved from https://dramatica.ro/index.php/j/article/view/160