by Barbara Black
The Learned Ladies, by Molière, is the next production of
the Concordia Theatre Department. Its 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 directors 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. Ive 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 its 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
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.