By Rachelle Hughes
Marc Camoletti, aka, the master of the theatrical bedroom farce, discovered his comedic niche early in his career. Sex, relationships, and secrets were his playwriting forte and garnered him success on theatre stages and silver screens throughout the world.
Marc Camoletti’s (1923–2003) first ambitions did not begin in the theatre world, although they always leaned toward the artistic. He first dreamed of becoming a painter and even started training. Eventually he discovered that he was far more powerful with the pen than the paint brush when his theatrical career began in 1958 with three of his plays being produced that year in Paris. His first play La Bonne Anna won the hearts of Parisians, and he was quickly embraced by his countrymen. Over his career he became an international phenomenon with forty plays translated into eighteen languages that have been performed in over fifty-five countries. It is estimated that over twenty million have attended live performances of his work over the past fifty-six years. In France his comedic talents were applauded and revered to the extent that he was awarded one of the country’s highest awards—Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Born a French citizen on November 16, 1923 in Geneva, Switzerland, he was born into a creative family of Italian background that was well entrenched in the artistic world. His grandfather, an internationally acclaimed architect, also known as Marc Camoletti, designed and built the landmark Victoria Theatre in Geneva. Camoletti’s great uncle and cousins were also successful architects (https://blog.roundabouttheatre.org/?p=6517). Perhaps, his familiarity with architects prompted him to make one of the main characters of his most successful plays an architect.
His most popular play, Boeing Boeing, opened in Paris in 1960 and ran for nineteen years in the city he called home. The English translation opened just two years later in London and ran for seven years. Just five years after it debuted in Paris, the play was made into a film starring Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis. However, the comedy did not garner as much attention with American audiences, not at first anyway. The initial Broadway production lasted just twenty-three performances in 1965. Yet, Camoletti’s work is currently experiencing an American revival. A contemporary production of the play in 2008 on Broadway earned six Tony Award nominations and two Tony awards. Boeing Boeing is now a staple in regional theatres across the country (https://blog.roundabouttheatre.org/?p=6517).
Boeing Boeing may be the play that cemented Camoletti’s playwriting success, but he followed up this play with a steady stream of other plays with similar themes. Sèmiramis in 1963, Secretissimo in 1965, La Bonne Adresse in 1966, and L’Amour propre in 1968. Don’t Dress For Dinner, first produced in Paris, later became London’s longest running comedy ever. It is still a favorite with regional theatres (http://www.samuelfrench.com/author/1064/marc-camoletti).
Theatre was Camoletti’s lifelong passion, and his theatrical endeavors extended beyond just playwriting. In 1972, Camoletti and his wife, Germaine, took over management of Thèâtre Michel, on Paris’ Rue des Mathurins. Thèâtre Michel became a venue for Camoletti’s plays as well as his work as a director. He often produced and directed his own work starting with his play Duos sur canape in 1974. Thèâtre Michel continued to be Camoletti’s home base as he continued to write, produce, and direct at the Thèâtre Michel during the 1980s and 1990s.
Camoletti passed away on July 18, 2003 at age 78 and was buried in the Montmartre cemetery next to his wife who passed away in 1994. Their theatrical legacy at Thèâtre Michel was continued by their son Jean Cristophe and his wife, Arianne, who managed the theatre until 2008. (http://thebarksdalebuzz.blogspot.com/2011/09/world-famous-playwright-youve-never.html).