Tartuffe’ gets modern spin at SOPAC
The Department of Communication and the Arts will present its final play of the season with “Tartuffe,” a comedy in which a con man poses as a priest and holds sway over a family, from April 1-3 and 8-10 at SOPAC.
Director Deirdre Yates said she wanted to make “Tartuffe,” written by the 17th century French playwright Molière, more accessible to audiences today.
“I love the language, I love the writing and I love the message,” she said. “The message is universally relatable. There are Tartuffe’s that exist today – con men out for themselves. That’s why I wanted to update it to a modern time; it makes the story accessible and relevant.”
In the play, Tartuffe, played by senior Matt Giroveanu, is a pious fraud who lusts after Elmire (Iamê Manucci), the wife of Orgon (Henry LaGue). Everyone in Orgon’s household knows that Tartuffe is false – everyone except Orgon, who allows the con man to influence him.
“He’s a creep,” Giroveanu said about Tartuffe. “He knows what he wants, and he goes to any length to get it. But he’s upfront and honest about being devious, the audience sees that, and he becomes a very personable character.”
Yates said she wanted to keep the set simple. She worked with theatre professor Peter Reader, who designed the set and lighting, to create long layers of white curtain as the backdrop – perfect, Yates said, for characters to sneak around in and to represent the layers of deceit in the play.
To further modernize the play, which is written in rhyme, the cast wears modern clothing, sends texts while onstage and dances around to modern hit songs like Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You” and Ke$ha’s “Your Love Is My Drug.”
“Professor Yates had a creative vision,” stage manager Jennifer Graham-Macht said. “She knew that she wanted this classic comedy to appeal to a 21st century audience.”
Sophomore cast member Philip Baker agreed.
“I don’t like being confined to the period of the drama,” he said. “So while our ‘Tartuffe’ is still written in classic style, we made it modern.”
“Tartuffe” marks the final time some of the actors in the cast will perform before graduating.
“They’ll be very much missed,” Yates said.
LaGue, who said “Tartuffe” was his sixth show with Yates, said he loved participating in student theatre because of the learning experience.
“You wouldn’t see a six in the number of times I’ve worked with her if I didn’t find it both entertaining and fun,” he said.
Both LaGue and Giroveanu said they know they will graduate in May, and after that, the future is unknown.
“That will be the next great adventure, acting away from Seton Hall,” LaGue said. “I have to move outside my comfort zone.”
But for now, the cast has two weekends of performing the comedy at SOPAC.
“Of all of Professor Yates’ shows, I have to say that this has been the most enjoyable process,” Graham-Macht said. “The actors have been working so hard that when the audience sees this they really will be overwhelmed.”
“I hope the audience will have a fun night,” Yates said. “I hope they will laugh, and see the point of this funny and meaningful comedy.”
Erin Bell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow the link to see a preview for Seton Hall’s “Tartuffe.”