Tartuffe is the story of…

NAF

… A wily opportunist, who affects sanctity and gains complete control over Orgon, a rich bourgeois who in his middle years has become a bigot and a prude. To the great despair of his family and staff, Orgon has been brainwashed into believing Tartuffe’s rhetoric, to the point where Orgon feels morally obliged to break off his daughter’s engagement to her greatest love, Valère, and marry her off to this impostor; banishes his son; and signs off his worldly possessions to Tartuffe in the interim. Orgon’s family and staff try as best as they can to make him aware of Tartuffe’s sinister motives, but it appears to be too late! 

The language of Molière had to live in the bodies and not just the mouths of the actors

In 2012, the Fortune Cookie Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed production of Molière’s Miser was sold out and won four Naledi Awards. Now in 2017, Sylvaine Strike (2006 Standard Bank Young Artist for Theatre) and the Fortune Cookie Theatre Company are taking Molière to the next level. As the director, Strike states that, ‘Written in 1664 and regarded at the time as an audacious attack on the bigotry of ostensibly religious men in positions of power, Tartuffe remains the most pointed critique of hypocrisy, exploring the sweet power of deception and the tragic gullibility of man. I am deeply privileged to have had the opportunity to create a Tartuffe for South African audiences. As with The Miser, a re-invention of this great classic was the key. It began with selecting a cast who could meet the challenge of the physicality required for my vision. The language of Molière had to live in the bodies and not just the mouths of the actors. By the same token, I chose a version of the play that most closely resembled Molière’s original text, written in Alexandrine verse (so popular in his time), reminiscent of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter as we know it. The great challenge was to deliver rhyme with ease, while subtly underplaying obvious rhythms that can entrap characters. The actors were required to work on several different layers simultaneously: I focused on refining the heightened physical, vocal, emotional and comical techniques of their delivery, to ultimately produce a company that used the same vocabulary to tell this story.

I have loved challenging the gender-specific roles that Molière has penned, believing the universality of the work allows females to play male roles and vice versa in a more contemporary society. Casting a female to play the role of Cléante was a very important decision, which has informed the moral tone or the voice of reason in this version of the play

‘The atmosphere in the rehearsal room was electrifying. Soon enough, our space became an incubator that gave birth to the signature style that is bold and clear in our TartuffeThe image that came to me when conjuring up a setting for this play was a garden abundantly full of life that is gradually deprived of oxygen and sunshine – much like our global garden can feel these days – and so reflecting Orgon’s household, whose characters are brimming with a love for life, but is stifled, splintered and almost irreparably shattered by Tartuffes self-serving corruption. I have loved challenging the gender-specific roles that Molière has penned, believing the universality of the work allows females to play male roles and vice versa in a more contemporary society. Casting a female to play the role of Cléante was a very important decision, which has informed the moral tone or the voice of reason in this version of the play. Traditionally played by an older man, Cléante offers his wisdom in relentless monologues; hearing these words uttered by a woman gives a new and different gravity to the need for transparency and truth.’ Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673) was a French playwright and actor. He is considered one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. Among Molière’s best-known works are The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, Tartuffe, The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid and The Bourgeois Gentleman.

Read more at: Molière in South Africa and A Molière year in South Africa with the national tour of Tartuffe.

For a short guide navigating through the programme, check out: National Arts Festival programme open for booking or visit one of our pages:

FILM  Disruption, Dissension, Decency, Disobedience & Defiance
THEATRE  Expect the unexpected
TARTUFFE  the story of…
MUSIC  Traditional, innovative & experimental
DANCE  ‘Curious, furious and poetic’
VISUAL/PERFORMANCE ART  Combining the historic and the contemporary
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