Freely Adapted by Sean Foley & Phil Porter
Executive Producer Tim Disney & Producers Bill Haney & Maura McCarthy
Directed by Julianna Rees
July 29 – August 3
A power-hungry ruler leads a government eager to please him. A nation’s values quickly shift: family, friendship, and hard work are soon replaced by love of greed and power. What is the impact on a society that abandons its sense of self in blind pursuit of money and naked ambition? France in the late 17th century discovered the consequences, when Louis XIV Dieudonné (“God-given”) reigned as the Sun King at Versailles. Otherwise rational people found themselves entrapped in ridiculous ceremonies, where the rules of etiquette were so rigid and extreme, courtiers were unable to knock on doors or sit on chairs, and their lives revolved around the whims of their capricious monarch.
Molière wrote The Miser in 1668, 24 years into Louis XIV’s reign. Molière sought to satirize the French court of his day- Harpagon’s home is Versailles writ small. Notice themes that return: sycophancy, avarice, etiquette, class division, the tension between love of people and love of money. Harpagon will gladly sacrifice anything to keep what he holds most dear- the gold he has buried on his property. What price does he pay? And what price, ultimately, did the French kings, and their country, pay for building their gilded palaces and hoarding their treasure? People starved, and heads rolled.
We chose this play because we found many parallels between Molière’s France and today. What values has our country sacrificed to pander to a leader who needs obedience and devotion, who prizes money and strength over human relationships? The plot of The Miser resolves when people Harpagon ignores or disdains – the lower class and women – end up being smarter and more resourceful than he expected. Perhaps our salvation lies in their hands as well.
Finally, Molière worked throughout his artistic life with a small company of actors who traveled, worked, and often lived together for many years. We ourselves have formed an ensemble of actors, designers, and technical crew from the tradition of CTE, where we actively teach and practice ensemble and generosity. From students just leaving their Freshman year to our elder statesman, a graduate of 1984, we have come together to create a play we hope will make you think and laugh.
We would like to thank our generous producers, Tim Disney, Bill Haney, and Maura McCarthy. Molière was able to write, direct, and act in his remarkable productions due to the vision and financial support of Monsieur, Louis XIV’s brother. We’re grateful our producers believe in our work, and have made it possible to share it with you.