The Maison Maria Casarès is situated at the heart of the Domaine de la Vergne, on the banks of the Charente. It is a place where theatre, heritage, landscape and education come together, and has been a heritage site for culture (CCR) since 2008.
THE HERITAGE SITE
La Vergne is a former agricultural estate comprising four buildings on the banks of the Charente. The oldest parts date from the 15th century, and successive developments in the 17th, 19th and 20th centuries gave the site its current layout. The Franco-Spanish actress Maria Casarès and her companion André Schlesser purchased the Domaine de la Vergne in 1961. Upon her death in 1996, she bequeathed it to the Alloue community to ‘thank France for having been a refuge’ when she and her family fled the Franco regime in 1936.
In 2002, the house was added to the supplementary list of historic monuments, and work was undertaken in 2005 to create lodgings and a performance space in the former barn. Since 2011, the Maison Maria Casarès has also been known as the Maison des Illustres.
THE CULTURAL PROJECT
The project is based on the four strands of theatre, heritage, landscape and education, and encourages interaction between people working in these areas. It is particularly keen to support young innovators and pioneers.
The activities of the Domaine de la Vergne follow the rhythm of the seasons; residencies for young artists in the spring, public opening throughout the summer, including activities linked to the Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days). The autumn sees established artists and theatre companies using the site to rehearse new productions, and in the winter the site goes into hibernation as productions go on tour in the region.
- Résidences Jeunes Pousses: Each year, following a call for applications, three or four young directors are selected by a committee of professionals.
- In the autumn, established theatre companies rehearse at La Vergne.
- Through the Odyssée and Nora programmes, each year the Maison Maria Casarès offers writers’ residence to foreign dramatists. Their presence brings an additional dynamic to the diverse activities of the centre.
- Education and transmission are at the heart of the activities of the Maison Maria Casarès. Every spring, a series of practical workshops is offered around a theatrical work or writer.