WFU to Present Moliere’s “Tartuffe”

In 1966, his first year as director of the Wake Forest University Theater, Harold Tedford directed Moliere’s “The Misanthrope.” He will conclude his 32-year tenure with a production of another Moliere comedy, “Tartuffe.”

The Wake Forest University Theater production of “Tartuffe” opens Friday, April 10, and runs through Sunday, April 19.

“Moliere for my first show as director and my last show as director,” Tedford said. “Nice bookends, I think.”

First performed for Louis XIV at the Court of Versailles in 1664, “Tartuffe” has endured for more than three centuries as one of the most popular French comedies.

“Tartuffe” is the story of a religious hypocrite who cons his way into the home of a man named Orgon (Drew Droege). Orgon is so taken with Tartuffe’s (Jeff Schoenheit) professions of piety, he gives him his property and plans to marry his daughter off to him. His wife, Elmire (Megan Kramer), tries to prove to her obtuse husband that Tartuffe is a scoundrel.

“At the main comic level, the play is about obsession,” Tedford says. Everyone tries to tell Orgon he’s being hoodwinked by Tartuffe, but he persists in believing in the man’s religious virtue.

Other cast members will include Elizabeth Thalhimer as Orgon’s daughter, Heather McClain’s as his duped mother and Aileen Socrates as Dorine, the saucy maid.

The rhymed couplets of Richard Wilbur’s English translation of the play present a special challenge to the cast, says Tedford. The students have to “work against the rhyme to avoid sounding like Dr. Seuss.”

The set, characterized by 17th century French dÈcor, was designed by Darwin Payne. The period costumes were designed by Mary Wayne-Thomas and the lighting by Jonathan Christman.

Performances begin at 8 p.m. on the Main Stage in Scales Fine Arts Center and run through April 19. A special Saturday, April 18, matinee performance at 2 p.m. will be a benefit to create scholarships for Wake Forest theater students in honor of Tedford. Tickets, available at the university box office (336-758-5295), are $10 for adults, $5 for students. The box office is open weekdays from 12-5:30 p.m.

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