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Indybay Feature

UC Berkeley presents Molière's 'Tartuffe', banned after its premiere, and relevant today

Sunday, November 18, 2018
2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Event Type:
Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Dept.
Location Details:
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus

'Tartuffe' hits the heart of present and historical events. “I think it’s a perfect play for our times; this very moment in our history,” observes Director Domenique Lozano. “Watching 'Tartuffe', we can start to imagine a real scenario where such an imposter take over a seemingly normal and balanced family’s life. But as we have learned in our current times, even the most respected house can be corrupted. So, this story has resonance and relevance in a very direct way.”

Plot: A con man disguised as a pious spiritual leader wheedles his way into the home of a gullible, affluent patriarch in the midst of a mid-life crisis—and promptly sets the household topsy turvy. Lechery, young love, deception, and delusion collide in 'Tartuffe', Molière’s classic work that skewers religious hypocrisy and self-inflated egotism.

'Tartuffe' examines how power is vulnerable to manipulation by piety, hypocrisy, and gullibility. Although King Louis XIV privately enjoyed 'Tartuffe'’s debut, he was persuaded by religious advisors to ban the play after church leaders called Molière “a devil clothed in human flesh” and the Archbishop of Paris threatened to excommunicate anyone who attended a performance. Molière’s defense argued that comedy is a physical embodiment of “the unreasonable”, and so the play of reason against the irrational is the necessary subject of comedy.

Significantly, 'Tartuffe' is presented within UC Berkeley’s deep-rooted tradition of critical inquiry, debate, and freedom of expression, and Lozano hopes that audience members might become inspired to start conversations or feel compelled to take action. She explains, “To be doing this play at Berkeley is meaningful given the University’s historical commitment to education and a diverse search for the truth. Molière was fearless in his depiction of hypocrisy and corruption. He risked everything and fought his entire career for these specific plays to have the right to be performed and seen.”

Tickets: $13 - $20

Added to the calendar on Sun, Oct 14, 2018 10:43AM
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