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Tech theater department opens French classic ‘Tartuffe’

November 14, 2016

Dillon Nelson

Staff Reporter | djn005@latech.edu

 

“Tartuffe,” the classic 1664 comedy by French playwright Molière, ran from Nov. 1 to Nov. 6 at the Stone Theater. Attendees laughed along to the tale of Tartuffe, a religious hypocrite, and his attempt to finesse himself into high society.

 

Collin Cagle, a senior theater major and the titular scoundrel himself, said the reason the character is such an effective one is because of how he can change his persona from believer to deceiver on a dime.

 

“One moment he’s this big, religious, pious figure and the next he’s alone with one of the girls and he’s that totally different, swindler,” he said. “I felt like I should play both sides of the coin as over-the-top, one just as far as the other.”

 

Cagle said his character’s delayed entrance is part of what helped him really sell his character.

 

“It was really nice to see the other characters set the scene because they see Tartuffe for exactly who he is; this is all except for Orgon,” he said. “It gives me a chance to think, ‘just how slimy can I make this guy?’ and try to play off of them as I enter.”

 

Travis Fontenot, a graduate theater student, played Orgon. He said he considers his character to be obsessed with Tartuffe and someone who can see no fault with him at all.

 

“He made Tartuffe his passion, and, as he says in his lines several times, he even cared more for him than his wife and children,” Fontenot said. “I think I related to him because theater is my passion, and I was able to take that same passion and use it to play Organ.”

 

Michele Dormaier, the costume designer, said she is a longtime theater student and big fan of Molière. She said she was giddy for the opportunity to design for a Molière play because she has always had a good idea of the costumes she would design for them, especially “Tartuffe.” She said she really wanted to capture the spirit of the post-Elizabethan, Restoration theater-style comedy the play was written with in mind.

 

“It’s a great period and rich with a lot of detail, meaning and opportunity to be creative and give people an idea of what the upper class looked like,” Dormaier said. “I mostly wanted to be fun and to reveal insight into what types of characters these are and what their relationships with each other are.”

 

Dormaier said she specifically wanted to bond Valere and Mariane, the two young lovers whose relationship is threatened by Tartuffe, through their whimsical costume colors. She said strengthening this relationship by these means really instilled a sense of stakes in the play

 

“He had pink bows on his shoes to match all of her pink for example,” she said. “Touches like these allow the audience to subconsciously see that these two are really meant to be together; we wanted them to seem incomplete when not on stage with each other.”

 

Cherrie Sciro, the director of “Tartuffe,” said she does one play for Tech each year and decided to do “Tartuffe” because it is a play she has admired for a long time. She said the dynamic between gullible Orgon and the duplicitous Tartuffe should resonate to all audiences, no matter what time period.

 

“Everyone has their own convictions and things they think they are absolutely sure of, and we want people to take stock of that and say, ‘Oh gosh, I know that person and am that person at times’,” she said. “I think it’s rather funny that we can look at and laugh out loud about it while learning a lesson from it.”

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