"Tartuffe" like you've never seen it

This classic work has been translated from French for performances the world over, adapted into movies, television and opera - but the play UVU has mounted might just be the most interesting version yet.

Banned by the Sun King

Tartuffe is the story of one man who becomes devoted to another's purported divine authority. Despite the objections of his family, Orgon does whatever Tartuffe says. Antics ensue as his friends and family bend over backwards to prove Tartuffe’s hypocrisy and free Orgon from his clutches. 

 

Although the play was written in 1664, it has endured. The word "tartuffe" has become a French synonym for imposter. Its message was perceived to be anti-Catholic, a scandalous challenge to religious views of the day. The play was banned twice, until Moliere did a revision that included a lot of compliments to Louis XIV - now it is the longest running French comedy ever written.

 

This classic work has been translated from French for performances the world over, adapted into movies, television and opera - but the play UVU has mounted might just be the most interesting version yet.

Clowning around

This show will be performed in a unique, no-dialogue format dreamt up by visionary director Cleveland McKay Nicoll. Presented in the style of clowning, the story will be told entirely through physicality and movement.

“Tartuffe is a French neo-classical play which is traditionally performed in the style of Commedia dell'art (a very physical performance style that originated in Italy in the early 16th century),” Nicoll said. “Clowning, which is usually a non-verbal performance, was heavily influenced by Commedia from then on. By putting the show in the style of physical clowning, I felt like I was staying true to the tradition of Tartuffe and how it ‘should’ be performed.”

 

Inspired by Vaudeville from the 20s and 30s, there will be Jazz Age music, dancing and possibly even some slapstick. As each clown character does their act, their emotional arcs and interwoven storylines start to click into place for the audience. It’s a fast paced, high energy show that can be enjoyed by all ages.

The cast, who has no prior experience with the theatrical art of clowning, will be using not just their bodies but also instruments – some as intended, others more, shall we say, creatively – to bring the story to life.

“The show would not stand without the ingenuity the actors bring to every rehearsal,” Nicoll said.

September 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12. Show start at 5 p.m. To purchase advance tickets, visit: uvu.universitytickets.com or Campus Connection.  Tickets will also be available at the door.