Students cause heavenly laughter with Tartuffe

Connor Keef, Senior, horse plays with Jacob Chamberlain, and Colby Clark during rehearsals for the play Tartuffe in Gordon Wilson Hall. The show runs from October 4th through October the 9th. “It has been the most fun to be these characters with this cast, everyone is bringing their best and taking up as much space as they can, which has made for a very interesting dynamic,” Keef said.

Julie Sisler

Even before rehearsal began, the room was full of laughter. The room buzzed with activity: various pairs running lines, actors running through their blocking, others quickly rehearsing to themselves, directors jotting down last minute notes.

The cast and crew of “Tartuffe” were practicing a run-through in a room in Gordon Wilson Hall just days before opening night.

The lighthearted nature of the group continued as the director gave notes and the performers took their places, right up through the first few moments of the opening scene, which shows a household divided by a man named Tartuffe.

Cast member Natalie Thompson, who plays Dorine, said the play is a lighthearted, comedic look at religious hypocrisy.

“It is engaging, funny and has a fantastic energy from start to finish,” Thompson said.

The plot centers around a family in France under the rule of King Louis XIV. The father of the house becomes close friends with Tartuffe, a man who claims to be an extremely holy man, though also extremely poor. The father takes the man into their home, and chaos ensues as Tartuffe begins using his influence to change the lives of the family members, all in the name of eternal salvation.

According to St. Louis University, “Tartuffe” was originally banned from public consumption after its initial performance in the French court of King Louis XIV in Versailles. It was outlawed due to “the strong objections of influential church leaders who considered the play an attack on the very foundations of religion.”

“‘Tartuffe’ is an exciting opportunity for individuals to experience comedy from another era that adheres to a unique style of classic stock characterization,” Cameron Lane, who plays Tartuffe, said.

Some of the stock characters include a sassy servant, an oblivious father and a wiley con man, all of whom add to the comedic nature of the story.

Lane said the comedy comes from characterization used in the show and the exaggerated characteristics that the characters demonstrate.

“The audience gets to play witness to the interactions of extreme, almost clownish commentaries on human behavior,” Lane said.

Director Scott Stroot hopes students will get even more than a good laugh out of the show.

“[I hope students will get] an appreciation of how dedicated and talented their fellow WKU students are,” Stroot said, “and an appreciation of how a social satire composed of rhymed verse in 17th century France can still resonate with such vitality and relevance for a 21st century American audience.”

Lane hopes audience members will feel completely immersed in the world that the cast and crew has worked so hard to build.

“My hope is that those who see our production experience real laughter,” Lane said. “I think it’s a really fun time waiting to happen. God knows we all need more fun.”

Molliere’s “Tartuffe” makes its debut on Oct. 4 and runs through Oct. 9 in the Russell H. Miller Theatre in the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center. Tickets are available at the box office or for presale online.

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.