The next production coming to the stage of the Mabee Theatre will be Tartuffe, the last mainstage production of the 2022-23 Season for the Department of Theatre and Dance. Tartuffe is a satirical comedy by Moliere about religious corruption and deceit in the 1660s in France.
Directed by Dr. Nathan Bowman, assistant professor of theatre, Tartuffe features new and familiar faces. The designers include Sara Gushue, Katee Imlay, Lillian Manuel, Ben Maruco, and Jenna Nowak. The cast includes Hayden Schawang as Orgon, ValerieAnne “Val” Volpe as Elmire and Ben Walter as Tartuffe. Also appearing in the production as the Officer is Dr. Edward Mulholland, Sheridan chair of classics.
Tartuffe follows Orgon and his family as they host the religious hypocrite Tartuffe in their home. The family tries to tell Orgon about how harmful Tartuffe is, but Orgon is blinded by admiration and refuses to listen. Through a series of plots and ploys, the family works to reveal Tartuffe’s malicious intentions before it is too late. It is important to distinguish that Tartuffe does not mock religion, but rather fake spirituality. Tartuffe claims to be devotedly religious, but he does not practice what he preaches. Instead, he uses the idea of religion to manipulate those around him to his own advantage.
As a junior Theatre Arts major, Val noticed the challenges of producing this French neo-classical play and is excited to present it to the BC community. “It’s going to be an exciting challenge for me and unlike anything I have done before. I’m really excited to share this with the BC community.” Hayden, a senior psychology major and theatre enthusiast, likes Tartuffe’s relevance to the BC community as a Catholic institution. “Personally, I hope that all the seats of the Mabee Theatre are packed like sardines because the main takeaway from this show is so central to our religion – we are not called to live a double life. Everything kept in darkness will be brought to light, just like the deception in Tartuffe is revealed through a journey of laughter and gut-wrenching turns.”
Even though it was written 350 years ago, Tartuffe is still relevant to audiences today. Katee Imlay, the dramaturg (historian) for this production, highlighted the continuing relevance of Tartuffe through themes like greed, lust and family. “For instance, in our production meetings we’ve been talking a lot about false piety and how this can affect everything from costume design choices to the blocking to facial hair.” Because Benedictine College is a Catholic school, Dr. Bowman believes this production will be unique in how it resonates with the audience. “I think that the play, with its themes of true versus false faith, will be unique simply in that it is being produced within a college community in which faith is a cornerstone. I think our audience might relate to it in a way other audiences don’t. And also, I hope they laugh,” he said.
Tartuffe shows from March 31 to April 4. General tickets are $10 and student tickets are $5. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.