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Dordt College News

Dordt's theatre production "Tartuffe" will entertain and challenge

February 8, 2011

 TThe "Ta Dordt College Theater Department will present Tartuffe by Moliere at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24, 25, 26, March 2, 3, and 5 in the TePaske Theatre in the Sioux Center High School. A matinee performance will be performed March 5 at 1 p.m. Tickets are available at www.dordttickets.com or by calling (712) 722-6430.

Tartuffe is a play that focuses on faith and hypocrisy. The central character is aptly named Tartuffe, which means “the imposter.” His friends see him as a deeply religious man though the play reveals his religious hypocrisy. The serious issues that the play addresses are in stark and brilliant contrast to its farcical comedy. The play was written in 1664, but Dordt’s production will be set in 1963, where John F. Kennedy’s “Camelot” is just as mythic as that of Louis XIV’s Versailles. Just as Cardinal Richelieu invented the French secret service to spy on Louis’ court, so America in the Cold War was immersed in spy culture.

When Tartuffe was released in 1664, it sparked strong controversy for satirizing the Catholic Church and for exposing hypocrisies. Moliere uses a broad and witty comic style to mock those who use public faith to advance private ambitions. The play was soon banned. Moliere fought those in the church who opposed the play, saying in a preface to the play, “If the task of comedy is to correct the vices of mankind, I do not understand why some of those vices should be exempt. In the State, the vice of hypocrisy is far more dangerous than all the others; and we have seen that the theater is a strong force for its correction.”

In a conversation with the prince, King Louis asked, “I would like to know why those who were so scandalized by Moliere’s comedy say nothing about Scaramouche [a play released only days after Moliere’s play].” The prince responded by saying, “The reason is that the comedy of Scaramouche mocks heaven and religion, which those gentlemen do not care about, but Moliere’s play mocks those gentlemen themselves, and they cannot endure that.”

Dordt’s theater department continually provides productions that do more than entertain. They give the audience substance and challenge viewers to think deeply. For the past year’s productions, students and staff from Dordt College were recognized for their quality work with seven awards from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (ACTF) in Ames, Iowa. Tartuffe has substance, but it certainly will also make the audience laugh.
 

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