For the last two weeks, Appalachian State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance shared the timeless message of religious hypocrisy through its comedic production of “Tartuffe” at I.G. Greer Studio Theatre.
“Tartuffe” is a classic work from playwright Moliere, originally set in 17th century France. The play tells the tale of a con man named Tartuffe, who feigns religious devotion in order to trick a wealthy man named Orgon into giving him all of his possessions. Tartuffe, however, is thwarted when Orgon’s family uncovers his motives.
The theatre and dance department’s production still carries the same message, but instead takes place in 1930’s New Orleans. With this location, there is still a tie to the story’s original French roots, but the audience can more easily understand and relate to what they are seeing.
“I think the flavor of the 1930s and New Orleans feels a lot more familiar to our audiences than if we had tried to recreate 17th century Paris, as is done in many productions,” said senior theatre major Luke White. “I think it infuses a 350-year-old story with a breath of fresh air.”
Despite being an adaptation to a show from the 17th century, this production of “Tartuffe” was largely a success, each night ending with laughs and cheers from the audiences. According to director Joel Williams, out of the department’s 10 performances, there were approximately 600 students in attendance.
“The show sold out more often than not and, despite the difficult language of the text and general wordiness of the show, and the audience was always responsive and engaged in the story,” said sophomore theatre performance and philosophy major Jared Coble. “The [I.G.] Greer Theatre is small and intimate, which I believe helped with the connection between cast and audience.”
Sophomore theatre performance major Dylan Brown attributed the show’s success to its focus on religious hypocrisy.
“This is a good show for students at App because its timeless message of not relying on surface level impressions and how doing so can be detrimental,” Brown said. “Students gain insight into the world of the play and are able to see how such misdirection impacts the characters onstage.”
At all of its ten performances, “Tartuffe” brought in large audiences and exemplified widespread support for the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Story: Aleah Warner, Intern News Reporter