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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” adapted by Roger McGough, directed by Jennifer A. Kokai @ WSU (Ogden: March 2-10)

Tartuffe: Snake Oil Religion
Who: Weber State University Department of Performing Arts
What: Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” adapted by Roger McGough, directed by Jennifer A. Kokai
When: March 2, 3, 6-10, 7:30 p.m. •  2:00 pm matinee: March 10 
American Sign Language interpretation, March 3 at 7:30 pm
Where: Allred Theater, Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts

Weber State University Department of Performing Arts presents Moliere’s classic French comedy, “Tartuffe,” adapted by Roger McGough and directed by Jennifer A. Kokai. The production runs March 2, 3 and 6-10 at 7:30 pm with a Saturday matinee March 10 at 2 p.m.; and with American Sign Language Interpretation for the Saturday, March 3 performance; in the Allred Theater, Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $11 and $8 for all shows and are available in advance at Dee Events Center Tickets, 1-800-WSU-TIKS, weberstatetickets.com or at the door beginning one hour before the performance. 

A gentleman, Orgon, and his elderly mother are under the influence of Tartuffe, a pious fraud. The rest of Orgon’s family are upset by this, especially when Orgon announces his daughter Mariane, already engaged to Valère, will marry Tartuffe. The family sets out to trap the fraud as he sexually pursues Orgon’s wife, Elmire. By the time Orgon finally figures out the truth, Tartuffe has blackmailed him and orders the entire family out into the street. A surprising turn of events provides justice for all.

The play was first staged in 1664. Although the public and King Louis himself loved the play, it upset the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and members of upper-class society causing the Archbishop of Paris to issue an edict threatening excommunication for anyone who watched, performed in, or read the play - “in a bid to avoid misinterpretation by the feeble-minded masses.”  

Moliere’s famous comedy is re-told in a witty version by ‘Liverpool’s Poet Laureate’, Roger McGough, originally commissioned and produced by Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse in 2008. (from wikipedia: McGough was also responsible for much of the humorous dialogue in The Beatles’ animated film, “Yellow Submarine”. . .) 

McGough’s new version doesn’t tamper with the fun that abounds in this bawdy romp as the players hide in cupboards or wooden chests to eavesdrop on Tartuffe to catch him in his evil ways. Tartuffe remains a play about religious hypocrisy which finds its own translation in any day and age.

This will mark the directorial debut of Kokai at WSU. She says, “I could not be more excited for my first show at Weber. Tartuffe, the character, was inspired by Moliere watching French Mountebanks, or Medicine Show salesmen trying to sell spectators snake oil. We’ve picked up on that idea and moved it to the heyday of American Medicine shows, post Civil War south. Along with the hilarious comedy story, our Medicine Show has singing, dancing, magic, juggling, and many surprises. I have been so impressed by the talented actors and designers I get to work with on this show.”

Scenic Designer, Van Tinkham, is out to impress the audience again with a lovely outdoor setting for the Medicine Wagon that pulls on stage and sets up for a show. Graduating theatre major Sean Bishop is wrapping up his studies at WSU by designing the costumes to complete the look of the South after the Civil War. 

For more information, contact Director: Jennifer Kokai: jenniferkokai@weber.edu or 1-801-626-6624.


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