Directed by UCT alumnus and award-winning director Sylvaine Strike, Tartuffe may have been first performed in 1664, but the show is as relevant now as it was then.
In exploring the ways in which people are easily manipulated by honeyed words and the trappings of power, this masterpiece has a powerful message at its core.
Written by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, one of France’s most accomplished artists who is best known by his stage name Molière, the show tells the story of the wily swindler Tartuffe who, disguised as a paragon of piety, manipulates his way into the house of Orgon. Once inside, he swiftly leads the family to ruin.
Blinded by admiration for Tartuffe, Orgon is not privy to his true nature.
“It is a play which, through the strength of its comedy and satire of society, also invites us to question and interrogate,” says Strike.
Making his long-awaited return to the stage, UCT alumnus Neil McCarthy leads the cast in the role of Orgon. He is accompanied Khutjo Green as Elmire, Craig Morris as Tartuffe, and theatre stalwart Vanessa Cooke as Dorine.
The comedy was closed down soon after it was first performed in 1664. Considered an unacceptable critique of the church, Tartuffe was censored and Molière was taken in for questioning by religious authorities. The archbishop of Paris went on to threaten any who performed in, watched or read the play, with excommunication.
Khutjo Green, Camilla Waldman, Vuyelwa Maluleke and Neil McCarthy in Tartuffe.
Considering this, in a time when the artist’s, cartoonist’s or satirist’s freedom of expression was not guaranteed, Tartuffe is as relevant now as it was then.
“Promoting the work of Molière is even more relevant today as it remains utterly universal through the ongoing power of his word,” says Strike.
But this staging of Molière’s work will be presented in a context never seen before, Strike guarantees. It promises a lot of surprises.
Translated by Richard Wilbur, the show is being staged by the Fortune Cookie Theatre Company. Tartuffe is presented in association with the French Institute of South Africa (IFAS) and the Alliance Française of Cape Town.
Tartuffe runs from 18 to 29 April at 19:00 nightly, with matinees on 22 and 29 April at 14:00, and on 25 April at 11:00. There is an age restriction of 16 years.
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