Essential Theatre brings ‘Tartuffe’ to town

The Florida A&M University’s Essential Theatre will perform “Tartuffe,” one of the most famous and reputable French plays by Molière.

According to the play’s director Luther Wells, the play is a baroque comedy of manners set in the 17th century and riddled by a clever theme of hypocrisy.

“Tartuffe is written in rhyme and couplet so the cast had to work on not forcing or focusing on rhyme,” said Wells. “Tartuffe is one of my favorite plays by Molière, and I’ve always wanted to direct it. We are committed to do a classical piece every other year and I felt Tartuffe to be quite appropriate.”

The cast was picked through a series of auditions. “After the first round of the audition process, there was a second round, a cold read and then the cast was picked from there,” Wells said.

Anedra Johnson, 19, a sophomore theater student from Miami, said, “I play Dorine, lady maid to Orgon’s daughter and the voice of reason throughout the play,” Johnson said. “When Orgon is being swindled, I’m the one telling him how (Tartuffe is) a hypocrite. Although I’m labeled as just a talkative servant, I’m one of the only one’s with common sense.”

Hector Machado, a senior theatre student from Miami played Orgon.

“I play a wealthy Frenchman named Orgon-he is slowly losing his youth, vitality, and looks and begins to see these qualities in Tartuffe, who he sees as Jesus,” said 23-year-old Machado.

Members of the cast said plenty of work and preparation went into this production.

“We’ve been working since November,” Machado said. “When we came back from Christmas break, we began vocal training (and) did research on the cultural and social aspects of the 17th century and on our characters.

“After all of the studying, the last step was blocking and constant rehearsal.”

The cast encourages students to come out and see this quaint comedy for its moral content and not just for laughs.

“Although it’s not a typical modern or contemporary play, I believe that every generation has something to gain from it, a lesson to learn,” Johnson said.

“The current generation is into hip-hop and spoken word, and this is something that they can relate to”, said Wells.

In the famous play, Orgon, a wealthy family man, takes in a stranger by the name of Tartuffe, a man who appears to be very religious.

Orgon offers Tartuffe the best of everything he has and places the needs of his guest above his wife and children.

He eventually plans to force his daughter to marry Tartuffe and to disinherit his son in order to make Tartuffe the sole heir to his fortune.

All of Orgon’s friends and family see Tartuffe as a liar.

Orgon is warned that Tartuffe is deceiving him in order to gain financial and social status, but he does not heed.

The FAMU Essential Theatre’s production will take place Feb. 15 -19 at the Charles Winter Wood Theatre in Tucker Hall.

Show times are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices are $12 for adults, $9 for senior citizens, $7 for students and children.

FAMU students are admitted free with a valid Rattler Card. For more information call (850) 561-2425.

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