Show stopper

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Moliere’s Tartuffe coming to Troutt September 24, 2010

Filed under: theater — amandastrav @ 2:34 pm
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The Troutt will be draped with 17th century costumes, music and rhyming couplets. Moliere’s neo-classical play, Tartuffe, will open on October 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Tartuffe, a comedy, is about a man who takes advantage of his landlord, Orgon. Tartuffe portrays himself as a pious man when he simply wants to swindle Orgon out of the deed to his house by marrying his daughter. It is a play about religious hypocrisy and extremism, topics Brent Maddox, the director of Tartuffe, says are very relevant to today’s world.

“If you look at what’s going on in our culture, in our society, globally speaking, this play was written hundreds of years ago yet the message of religious hypocrisy or religious extremism is still prevalent today,” Maddox said.

Tartuffe was originally written in French, but Maddox is using Richard Wilbur’s, an American literary translator and poet, version because his translation preserved the rhyming couplets and iambic pentameter.  This two-hour play is big, Maddox said. From the costumes to the set, everything is over the top.

“There is nothing simple about this show,” Maddox said.

Tartuffe will be played by Zach McCann. Daniel Hackman, a Belmont alum and his wife Joann Hackman will play the married couple as Orgon and Elmire. Doreen, the servant, will be played by Christy White. Franne Lee, who has worked as a costume designer on Broadway, designed the costumes.  Liz Morison, a production design major, is the set designer while Patrick White, another production design major, designed the lighting.

“Working with the cast is the best part,” Maddox said. “They’re hard workers. They come in prepared and ready to go which is a delight for me as a director. Amongst the fun a lot of work has been getting done.”

While the play is a comedy, there have been some challenges Maddox and the actors had to face. While the play is set in Paris, the actors will speak a British dialect. Maddox decided to forgo the French accent because it’s a little more difficult to learn in a short period of time. The styling of the piece has also been a challenge. Maddox doesn’t want his actors to look like actors. He wants the play to be believable.

“You have to look like you belong in this world,” said Maddox. “You have to sound like your British. You have to sound like you speak in rhyming couplets. You have to look like you belong in 17th century. We can’t make it look like it’s fake. [The audience isn’t] looking at actors. They’re looking at characters.”

The audience should be expected to laugh at the physical humor. Maddox wants the audience to go away with the sense that they experienced a moment of fun but have been educated.

“It’s going to be a good show,” said Maddox. “It’s going to be funny, but at the same time it will expose [the audience] to a different style of theatre and perhaps a different culture than the one they’re used to.”

Tartuffe runs through October 10. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for faculty and staff. Students are free and culture and arts convo will be given.

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