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Jean-Gaspard Deburau

/ 31. července 1796 Kolín — 17. června 1846 Paříž /
Jean-Gaspard Deburau

How the actor and mime born as Jan Kašpar Dvořák became a favourite of all Paris

A close-fitting black cap, whitened face, simple white collarless outfit – that all highlights facial expressions and gestures. ´Pierrot´ was a traditional figure of French folk theatre: unfairly-treated, hapless and gullible person, rejected admirer who is laughed at by everybody. However, Jean-Gaspard Debureau, the mime (an actor of pantomime – theatre without words) enriched the character of Pierrot with such charm that all Paris used to come to see him act.

He was born in 1796 in Kolín as Jan Kašpar Dvořák. He was a son of French soldier and Kolín townswoman. The family left Kolín soon and started their journey to France. In his twenties (already as Jean-Gaspard Debureau) performs in Paris Théâtre des Funambules (Theatre of funambulists). In several years he became a favourite of all Paris.

Debureau acted as Pierrot first in 1825 when he had been already famous. Nevertheless, it was exactly the role of Pierrot which made him famous in the Paris newspaper as the best actor ever. Until today he has been called ´the founder of modern pantomime´.