Category: Molière (3)
Hello Readers! Student Forum’s back with critiques of the Department of Theatre and Dance’s production of Molière, courtesy of Neil Baldwin’s Play Script Interpretation Class. Here’s one from Ally Blumenfeld, with two more in tow by Gillian Holmes and Hillery Brotschol: read on!
“It’s only theater,” proclaims young Armande, the lover of infamous playwright Molière, moments before he steps forward into the white spotlights and passionate applause.
How incredible it is that a play should toy with the very nature of theater and reality, and at the same time leave me thinking in the moment that the lights went up and the actors ended their enthusiastic curtain call, “This is why I love theater.” How incredible indeed — that a play better classified as a workshop, that made use of no elaborate sets or costumes, that consisted mostly of fervent, fiery, masterfully-delivered dialogue and chilling moments of silence heavy with the weight of significance — that a play such as Molière could be performed by actors-in-training at Montclair State University with such powerfulness and profundity that it left me so inspired I might have floated back to my residence hall.
To critique a theater piece as a member of the performing ensemble requires something completely different than the average critical audience member. As an audience member, one is an observer, experiencing a product given to them after a process; the actor, on the other hand, labors through the designated working period in order to present. In the case of Sabina Berman’s Molière, presented at Montclair State and directed by Debbie Saivetz, I find myself in the latter group: a member of an ensemble tirelessly working toward the ultimate goal of breathing life into the piece. It is difficult, on the one hand, to be able to have an unbiased opinion coming from inside of the production. However, I feel as though I am equipped with the knowledge of the intricacies that helped the show come together, in the fashion and form that it did.
A poignant theme that I noticed throughout the duration of Molière is the clear distinction between what is reality and fiction (or, theater.)
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Montclair State University’s February workshop of Sabina Berman’s Moliére illustrated the resourcefulness of both director Debbie Saivetz and the actors as they staged a large show on a small budget. The show’s visual simplicity challenged the audience to use their imaginations to re-create the world of Moliére. As a workshop, the text of the play was the main focus, thus the audience was engulfed in Moliére’s story of self-sacrifice for the sake of art.
Moliére’s semi-historically accurate plot follows famed 17th century French comedic playwright Moliére and his theatrical company through a 15 year period, from 1664 through 1679. It is during this time Moliére is introduced to the tragedian Racine, who at first admires Moliére and later betrays him. Berman does her best to illustrate the influence of Moliére’s personal life on his creations as she interweaves bits of Moliére’s plays into the script. Yet, as this play was originally written in Spanish, one cannot help wondering if something was lost in translation. The script seems confused. Is the play about rivalry, life, art, or self-sacrifice?
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