The co-founders of RADAC, Claude Coulon (Paris 4), Raymond Prost (Dijon) and Nicole Vigouroux-Frey (Tours, subsequently Rennes 2) had the idea of creating an inter-university association of researchers of contemporary anglophone drama in 1976. The following year it took shape in Tours at the SAES convention (Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur/Association of HE English Specialists).
In June 1977, the decision was taken to establish legally a scientific association. Hélène Catsiapis (École Centrale – Lille), Michelle Bouin (Dijon), Monique Prunet (Paris 4), Raymond Gardette (Paris 4), Bernard Rongier (Lyon 2), Françoise Vreck (Lille 3), were present and Nicole Boireau (Paul Verlaine – Metz), André Bouisset (Toulouse 2), Claudie Combres (Toulouse 2), Patrick Vittet (Fondation Thiers) were represented. The main aims were established, a board was set up and the association was officially registered on the 1st of February 1978 appearing in the National Directory on March 2nd. The first board included Claude Coulon (President), Raymond Prost (Secretary), Michelle Bouin (Treasurer). The second, constituted in 1984, consisting of Claude Coulon (founding President), Hélène Catsiapis (Secretary), and Nicole Boireau (Treasurer), held office until 2007.
It is important to point out that until 1978 academic research was a solitary affair. Apart from the CNRS (Centre national de recherche scientifique/ the National Centre for Scientific Research) and the SAES theatre working group, no specific body existed which brought together research into modern and contemporary anglophone theatre, despite the fact that this area was attracting an increasing number of researchers due to the flurry of changes in the theatre in the second half of the 20th century. Conscious of the need for a collective approach to research, the founding fathers of RADAC had the inspired idea to unite various groups, an idea which proved to be as beneficial as it was original.
The next stage, and by no means the least, was to set up a journal dedicated to reporting on ‘theatre’ conferences and workshops but also to publishing researchers’ articles. In 1979, Nicole Vigouroux-Frey set up Les Cahiers du RADAC. This was replaced by the journal Coup de theatre which was edited by Nicole Vigouroux-Frey and distributed by Hélène Catsiapis who also supervised a large number of issues. In 2007 the new president Jean-Pierre Simard took on the entire responsibility of editing, DTP, and supervising the journal issues until its 25th issue published in 2011. The third board, nominated in Lyons in March 2011 is headed by Professor Susan Blattès (Grenoble 3) and has engineered the bilingual version of our website and the launch of an electronic version of Coup de theatre.
As well as being called to chair the SAES theatre workshops, the successive presidents have always encouraged their members to present their work and also to organise conferences in their respective universities. From the very outset a profusion of workshops, theatrical meetings, visits from playwrights and renowned critics have lent an international element to RADAC. Various partnerships have been established down through the years between RADAC and French universities. Distinguished authors have honoured us with their presence: Trevor Griffiths (Metz), Edward Bond (Paris et Toulouse), Howard Barker (Lille, Paris), Julia Pascal (Paris, Metz, Villetaneuse), John Arden and Margaretta D’Arcy (Metz, Rennes), Sarah Daniels (Metz), Jean-Marie Besset (Metz), Arnold Wesker (Metz), John McGrath and Elizabeth Mac Lennan (St Etienne, Metz), Martin Crimp (Paris). Renowned critics have taken part in our conferences, amongst them: John Elsom (Metz), Aleks Sierz (Rennes, Grenoble 3, Paris 4) and Michael Coveney (Paris, Studio de la Comédie-Française).
Meetings with producers and actors in French theatres (Théâtre National de Chaillot, Théâtre National de la Colline, CDN-Thionville, Théâtre National de Toulouse, Comédie de St Etienne, Amandiers in Nanterre, Théâtre National de la Bastille in association with Cargo CDN Grenoble, Studio de la Comédie-Française, Théâtre de Versailles, Théâtre du Nord à Lille), during productions of translated anglophone plays have always been part of RADAC’s innovative calendar of events. No area of theatre has ever been overlooked be it English, American, Irish, Australian or Canadian. The body and performance, texts and translations, music and dance: all these elements have been examined in a cross disciplinary manner, always respecting a methodical pluralism.
To this day RADAC is the only contemporary anglophone theatre research group in France. Since 1978 it has benefited from the contributions of several French as well as international researchers. In 1986 the RADAC-Metz conference, attended by Trevor Griffiths, also attracted three German colleagues (Albert-Reiner Glaap, Düsseldorf; Wolfgang Lippke, Siegen; Heiner Zimmermann, Heidelberg). Not only did they become loyal members of RADAC but they went on to create a very active sister-society ‘Contemporary Drama in English’ (CDE). In the introductory speech of their annual conference our German friends never fail to acknowledge the origins of their organisation and the good relationship that they maintain with RADAC.
Independent of various multidisciplinary structures, which result in researchers without any particular common ground working together, thus stifling real research, and far from the weighty administration imposed by universities, RADAC has remained true to its status as an interuniversity association, without giving preference to any region or institution. This egalitarian approach, coupled with administrative and financial independence is rigorously respected by the presidents and the successive boards and allows for a greater managerial flexibility, the hallmark of true scientific freedom.
These past decades defined by our unique tale of community, unwavering friendship and love of theatrical research have left an indelible mark on us. We owe them to our founding president Claude Coulon (1940-2010), an open-hearted mentor, a talented, highly-cultured thinker and a sorely-missed, never-forgotten friend. RADAC is a richness, which serves us as much as we serve it. May we continue to make it flourish for the good of all.
Translated by Susan Griffin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Université Lumière-Lyon 2
Université Paris Nord
Lycée St-Maurice, Romans
RADAC is affiliated to the SAES (Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur)
PASSAGES XX-XXI (Université Lyon II)
PLEIADE (Université Paris 13)
Contemporary British Theatre Barcelona
ILCEA4 (Université Grenoble Alpes)