Modern-day “Tartuffe” opens theater for spring

On Feb. 13, Mary Moody Northen Theatre’s production of “Tartuffe” will premiere as the first production of 2014.

“Tartuffe,” which means hypocrite or imposter, was originally written in 1664 by Molière. It is regarded as one of his most well-known comedies as well as one of his most scandalous works.

The play’s central character is Tartuffe, a con artist of sorts that is masquerading as a religious man. This subtle statement to religious hypocrisy was quite scandalous back in 1664, but while it may have been the cause of much controversy in the 17th century, it is considered a classic to many scholars nonetheless.

With the combination of Ranjit Bolt’s translation and adaptation along with director David Long’s guidance, the Mary Moody Northen Theatre has taken “Tartuffe” and set it in present day Dallas.

Garret Everts, who works as a dresser, explained that the costumes are from American Eagle and other everyday clothing lines. Alyssa Jones, who plays Mariane, thinks the wardrobe has a contemporary feel.

“Both costumes I wear in the show are stuff that I would have in my closet,” Jones said.

Trey Stoker, who plays Damis, said the play included other modern props, such as iPods, laptops and even an elliptical.

While many may be skeptical that the conversion of this 17th century play to present-day Dallas is a stretch, cast members reassure that both newcomers and those familiar with “Tartuffe” will enjoy it.

“We’re not changing it or anything,” Vanessa Guadiana, who plays Dorine in the play, said.

As for why Dallas in particular, cast members explained that Dallas fit perfectly with the look and feel they were trying to achieve.

“In Dallas there is this sense of aristocracy, and we felt that it would contribute well to a modern day Tartuffe” Stoker said.

Other cast members explained that Dallas embodies the Lone Star state perfectly.

“It’s the Bible belt of Texas,” Jones said.

Cast members and the entire production team returned to St. Edward’s on Jan. 5, a week before spring semester began, to get started on “Tartuffe.”

“All the designers present their presentation of what everything is going to look like and we read through the play for the first time together” Guadiana said.

The cast and crew hope that the audience will respond well to this contemporary take on a classic.

“It’s funny and great. Go see it!” Everts said.

Student discount days are Feb. 14 and 20 and a discounted ticket will cost $8 compared to the average $17-$22 range. For more information on reservations or tickets, call 512-448-8484 Monday through Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m.