Architecture Art

Calais Grand Theatre + Gustave Malgras Delmas

Gilead’s Calling | The Innate Ordinariness of a Saturday Morning

“This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.” What Are We Doing Here?, Marilynne Robinson

The Grand Theatre, like the Town Hall, was built to belatedly celebrate the 1885 merger of the towns of Calais and Saint-Pierre. The site was once a cemetery. President Emile Loubet laid the foundation stone in 1903. Its architect was Gustave Malgras Delmas. He was no stranger to municipal projects, having designed the Palace of Fervaques in nearby Saint-Quentin where most of his work is concentrated. The building is pure architectural theatre, a palatial performance in stone. First floor statues between the coupled Corinthian columns propping up the façade represent comedy, poetry, dance and music. Second floor busts commemorate the composer Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny (1729 to 1817), the dramatists Alain-René Lesage (1668 to 1747) and Guillaume Pigault-Leburn (1753 to 1835), and author of The Siege of Calais Pierre de Belloy (1727 to 1775). In front of the Grand Theatre is a 1910 statue to Lillois Joseph Jacquard, inventor of an advanced weaving loom which greatly contributed to the success of the Calais lace industry. Gustave’s brother-in-law was the composer Marc Delmas.

“It’s not a man’s working hours that is important, it is how he spends his leisure time.” What Are We Doing Here? Marilynne Robinson