Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Southern Union presents Tartuffe

News to Know
by Kelly Caldwell

The Southern Union Theatre Department will present Tartuffe February 23-26 at Brazeal Auditorium. (Photo courtesy of Southern Union State Community College)

The Southern Union Fine Arts Department begins its spring performance calendar with the theatre department’s production of Tartuffe.

The original play, written in 1664 by French poet  Moliere, was quite controversial for its time and was even banned by the French Roman Catholic Church.

“Tartuffe is most mature play we have done,” Theatre Director Michael Williams said. “And, probably the most ambitious as far as performances go..

“The play is based on a holy man who is not holy at all,” Williams said. “He is constantly using the guise of religion to hide his actual intentions of embezzling money and chasing women. Basically Tartuffe uses this façade to con a patriarch of a family.”

Most of the family does not believe in Tartuffe, however the father does completely...So much so that he seeks Tartuffe’s counsel on all matters of his life including his finances, faith and friends.

“As you can imagine this puts the rest of the family in a bind because they see through Tartuffe,” Williams said. “But, it is one of those situations where the more the family proves Tartuffe’s true intentions, the more the father believes in him. It causes a lot of conflict as you can imagine.”

When Williams was searching for a translation of the play, he wanted to focus more on the actual words the characters were saying instead of a translation attempting to capture the poetry of the original.

“This is a comedy but it has a lot of tragedy in it as well,” Williams said. “There are some
moments that are absolutely heartbreaking.”

This production will be set  in the era of the Great Depression instead of Neoclassic French era of the original.

“We are using a contemporary translation that you can relate to today,” Williams said. “It is  a case of the Haves and Have-Nots. That is what makes this family so vulnerable. They are not at the highest ranks in class but they are not suffering either, and they don’t want to be suffering.”

The play opens at 7 p.m. on February 23 and will run nightly through February 26. Tickets are $5.

“I have been very encouraged by the work and effort my actors have put into this production,” Williams said. “And, if I were to ever complain about my cast I would be insane!”

After the production closes, Williams will be taking half of his actors to audition for colleges across the country at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
“We placed several students last year in different programs and we hope to do the same this year,” Williams said.

Southern Union will be conducting scholarship auditions March 14 and 15. For more information on auditions, please visit www.suscc.edu.


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