CTR Home Internal  Relations and Communications Home About CTR Publication Schedule CTR Archives

November 22, 2001 Theatre students explain their craft to young students



Costume design - Eve-Lin Leduc

Costume design - Eve-Lin Leduc

Costume designs by Eve-Lin Leduc, in her final year of the Design for the Theatre program.

by Barbara Black

The Learned Ladies, by Molière, is the next production of the Concordia Theatre Department. It’s a comedy that takes place in an upper-bourgeois household in 17th-century Paris — what you might call a dysfunctional family.

Because Molière is such a towering figure among dramatists, the department has organized school groups and prepared a study guide, including a synopsis of the plot and some historical context, such as why 17th-century gentlemen kissed ladies’ hands, and how the ladies used flirtatious gestures with their fans to send subtle messages across the room at parties.

Instead of the usual director’s notes, in this case from Ralph Allison, the students taking part in the production were asked to explain to their young audience members what they are doing to prepare for this production. Here are two examples.

Julia Noulin-Merat, Building Crew – Props

“I am currently studying in Design for the Theatre. I’ve learned that we can build almost anything with the simplest things - and glue. It all has to do with the magic of theatre.

For Learned Ladies, I got the chance to actually build real table legs. At first, the designer (in this case Madeleine) gives us the list of all the props that are required in the play. The prop shop crew has to find a low-cost way to build or rent these items.

We realized that it would be simpler to build another table instead of breaking down an already made one before adding other elements to it.

First, we had to choose a leg that was appropriate to the 17th-century baroque ideal. Then we projected the image onto a life-sized stencil in order to transfer it onto a piece of wood. The next step is to actually carve the legs out of it.

It is amazing to see the metamorphosis. Teamwork in theatre is the essential element. Thus, what can seem a small task is in fact a trigger to another one and so on. I can only wish to the cast and crew: “Break a leg!”

Amy Loder, Actor – Henriette

“This is my first show at Concordia, and I think it’s a wonderful one to bite into for acting experience.

The play itself is hilarious. Molière had an excellent understanding of humanity and this shows in the characters he has created and through their relationships with one another.

These characters all have something in them that we can recognize in ourselves or in people we know: the pompous wits who say a lot and nothing at the same time (Trissotin, Vadius), the social-ladder climbers (Armande, Philamente, Belise) or the culturally challenged (Chrysale), who dismiss the importance of books, relegating their usefulness to the equivalent of something to iron on, or to hold doors open with.

My character is Henriette, who, along with her lover Clitandre are probably the most identifiable characters to the audience. While the Learned Ladies are all over-the-top in their quest for the highest mental prowess, Henriette wishes instead for marriage, children, and making a home. Both she and Clitandre display more intelligence than the others in that they understand that both the mind and the body need to be nourished to achieve stability and happiness.

It will be a challenge to give Henriette the genuine goodness which she displays. There are so many times when I, as the actor, want her to stick up for herself and perhaps express a few biting retorts. However, it is important to understand the time in which it was written, and see that she is playing the scenes in the smartest way. Cattiness would only serve to hinder her progress and make her quest to marry Clitandre instead of Trissotin seem less desperate.”

The Learned Ladies, by Molière, directed by Ralph Allison, will run Dec. 7, 8, 14, 15 at 8 p.m., with general matinees Dec. 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. D.B. Clark Theatre Box Office: 848-4742.