Le Cercle Français
In 1956, the "Cercle Français de l'Université du Michigan" presented its fiftieth consecutive annual dramatic performance. The history of the Cercle Français is a long one: as early as December, 1902, a meeting was called to form a French club. Those at the meeting were enthusiastic. The object was "to form a French Society for increasing the study and interest in the French Language and Literature." Professor Arthur G. Canfield was made chairman of the committee in charge, and it was stated at the time that "it is intended to make this society a permanent part of student life. It is hoped that the organization will be strong and the benefits derived from it so great that once started, it will continue to prosper for years to come." On December 18 the first meeting of the Cercle Français was held for the election of officers. Early in 1903 a French lecturer, M. Mabilleau, was invited to talk to the group. As a preparation to his lecture, four lectures in French were given by members of the Department of Romance Languages.
The following year a course of public lectures on "Contemporary France" was given, and another French lecturer, André Michel, was invited to come to Ann Arbor, and on March 10, 1904, a "Soirée Dramatique" was given, comprising two short plays; another soirée took place on June 4.
Ever since those early days the Cercle Français has continued to function. Each year distinguished French scholars have been invited to deliver lectures under its auspices. Likewise, each year lectures in French have been given by members of the faculty.
The excellent presentation of Molière's Le Bourgeois-Gentilhomme under the direction of Professor Béziat de Bordes in 1907 inaugurated one of the most valuable traditions on the campus. Every year since that date the Cercle Français has presented a work of French dramatic art, classical plays alternating with contemporary successes of the Paris stage.
On many occasions special editions of the plays were published by members of the department for use in the classes, and to be preserved as souvenirs.
The play is generally given early in May, and concludes the year's program. The plays have been presented at the Whitney Theater, the Sarah Caswell Angell Hall, the Mimes Theater, and the Lydia Mendelssohn Theater.
Until his retirement from teaching in 1956, Professor Charles E. Koëlla had long been the mentor of the society and the director of its plays. Professor Denkinger is now director of the plays and Page 1955J. Carduner is the faculty adviser of the Cercle.
Besides the activities open to all, the better students of the department may be elected to membership in the Cercle Français. The active members of the Cercle meet to hear informal talks in French, play games, present short plays, and talk French.