Wednesday, July 20, 2011


On Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m. the Next Stage Ensemble of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey will perform an hour-long version of Moliere's comedy "Tartuffe." Due to tonight's extreme heat, the play will be held in the Berkeley Heights Community Center at 29 Park Avenue. Please bring your own lawn chair.

"When Orgon, a gullible and wealthy family man, invites the seemingly pious Tartuffe to stay at his home, he is convinced that he has joined a noble cause. Despite the warnings of his family and friends, Orgon holds his friend in the highest regard and showers him with gifts and money and even the offer of his daughter’s hand in marriage. The family soon lays traps to expose the true nature of the mysterious stranger. Will their efforts be too late?" (From the Next Stage Ensemble's press release.)

Here are some fun facts about Tartuffe.

- The first three acts were staged at Versailles in 1664 as part of Pleasures of the Enchanted Garden. Although Louis XIV thought Tartuffe was funny, he immediately prohibited its full production at the urging of the Archbishop of Paris. It was not until 1669 that Louis lifted the interdict. See Wayne Turney's The Tartuffe Controversy.

- The character Tartuffe's name means "truffle" - the black fungus delicacy that grows underground in the wild. The truffle was made popular by Louis XIV's chef Varenne, who cooked for the same kinds of royal parties where Moliere's plays were performed. See the Utah Shakespeare Theatre page on Tartuffe for more.

- The characters in Tartuffe are based on stock characters from Italian comedy, but Moliere also followed the rules for French tragedy (respecting the unities of time, action, and place, and writing in Alexandrine verse). See "Tartuffe," Recommended Reading: 500 Classics Reviewed, June 1995.

- Tartuffe does not appear on stage until the third act.

- Robert Cardullo argues that Orgon is meant to be a comic version of Louis XIV. His chief adviser, Tartuffe, can be compared to Louis' ministers, the Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin. See Explicator, Spring2009, Vol. 67 Issue 3, p173-176.

If you would like to read any of the articles cited in this blog post, they are available online at Literary Reference Center.

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