Tartuffe

Production history

The original version of the play was in three acts and was first staged on 12 May 1664 as part of festivities known as Les Plaisirs de l'île enchantée held at the Palace of Versailles. Because of the attacks on the play and the ban that was placed on it, this version was never published, and no text has survived, giving rise to much speculation as to whether it was a work in progress or a finished piece. Many writers believe it consisted of the first three acts of the final version, while John Cairncross has proposed that acts 1, 3, and 4 were performed.[8] Although the original version could not be played publicly, it could be given privately,[8] and it was seen on 25 September 1664 in Villers-Cotterêts and 29 November 1664 at the Château du Raincy.[9]

The first revised version, L'Imposteur, was in five acts and was performed only once, on 5 August 1667 in the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. On 11 August, before any additional performances, this version was also banned. The final revised version in five acts, under the title Le Tartuffe, began on 5 February 1669 at the Palais-Royal theatre and was highly successful.[8] This version was published[10] and is the one that is generally performed today.[8]

Modern productions

The seminal Russian theatre practitioner Constantin Stanislavski was working on a production of Tartuffe when he died in 1938. It was completed by Mikhail Kedrov and opened on 4 December 1939.[11]

The first Broadway production took place at the ANTA Washington Square Theatre in New York and ran from 14 January 1965 to 22 May 1965. The cast included Hal Holbrook as "M. Loyal", John Phillip Law as "King's Officer", Laurence Luckinbill as "Damis" and Tony Lo Bianco as "Sergeant".

The National Theatre Company performed a production in 1967 using the Richard Wilbur translation and featuring Sir John Gielgud as Orgon, Robert Stephens as Tartuffe, Jeremy Brett as Valere, Derek Jacobi as The Officer and Joan Plowright as Dorine.[12]

A production of Richard Wilbur's translation of the play opened at the Circle in the Square Theatre in 1977 and was re-staged for television the following year on PBS, with Donald Moffat replacing John Wood as Tartuffe, and co-starring Tammy Grimes and Patricia Elliott.

Tartuffe has been performed a number of times at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada first in 1968 with a production by the Stratford National Theatre of Canada using the Richard Wilbur translation and directed by Jean Gascon; the cast included Douglas Rain as Orgon and William Hutt as Tartuffe. The play has since been revived at the Festival in 1969, 1983, 1984 and 2000.

Simon Gray's adaptation was first performed at The Kennedy Center, Washington D.C., in May 1982, starring Barnard Hughes, Carole Shelley, Fritz Weaver and Brian Bedford.

In 1983, a Royal Shakespeare Company production directed by Bill Alexander used the translation by Christopher Hampton. Staged at The Pit in the Barbican Centre, London, the cast included Antony Sher as Tartuffe, Alison Steadman as Elmire, Mark Rylance as Damis and Nigel Hawthorne as Orgon. This production was later videotaped for television.

Another production at the Circle in the Square Theatre, entitled Tartuffe: Born Again, ran from 7 May to 23 June 1996 (a total of 25 previews and 29 performances). This was set in a religious television studio in Baton Rouge where the characters cavort to either prevent or aid Tartuffe in his machinations. Written in modern verse, Tartuffe: Born Again adhered closely to the structure and form of the original. The cast included John Glover as "Tartuffe" (described in the credits as "a deposed televangelist"), Alison Fraser as "Dorine" (described in the credits as "the Floor Manager") and David Schramm as "Orgon" (described in the credits as "the owner of the TV studio").

The most recent Broadway production took place at the American Airlines Theatre and ran from 6 December 2002 until 23 February 2003 (a total of 40 previews and 53 performances). The cast included Brian Bedford as "Orgon", Henry Goodman as "Tartuffe" and Bryce Dallas Howard as "Mariane".

The Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh staged a Scots version by Liz Lochhead in 1987, which it revived on 7 January 2006.

The Tara Arts theatre company performed a version at the National Theatre in London in 1990. Performed in English, the play was treated in the manner of Indian theatre; it was set in the court of Aurangazeb and began with a salam in Urdu.

A translation by Ranjit Bolt was staged at London's Playhouse Theatre in 1991 with Abigail Cruttenden, Paul Eddington, Jamie Glover, Felicity Kendal, Nicholas Le Prevost, John Sessions and Toby Stephens.[13]

Ranjit Bolt's translation was also staged at the National in 2002 with Margaret Tyzack as Madame Pernelle, Martin Clunes as Tartuffe, Clare Holman as Elmire, Julian Wadham as Cleante and David Threlfall as Orgon.[14]

David Ball adapted Tartuffe for the Theatre de la Jeune Lune in 2006. Dominique Serrand revived this production in 2015 in a coproduction with Berkeley Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory and the Shakespeare Theatre Company.[15]

Liverpudlian poet Roger McGough's translation premièred at the Liverpool Playhouse in May 2008 and transferred subsequently to the Rose Theatre, Kingston.[16]

Gordon C. Bennett and Dana Priest published a new adaptation, Tartuffe--and all that Jazz! in 2013 with www.HeartlandPlays.com set in 1927 St. Louis, the era of jazz and Prohibition, both of which figure into the plot. The play contains the original Tartuffe characters plus a few new ones in keeping with the altered scenario and a surprise ending to the hypocrite's machinations. The authors have created their own rhymed verse in the Molière tradition.

In October 2013, The National Arts Centre of Canada puts on a performance of Tartuffe set in 1939 Newfoundland.

In May 2014, the play was performed at the Ateliers Berthier theater in Paris, France.

In July/August 2014, Tartuffe was performed by Bell Shakespeare Company with a modern Australian twist, translated from original French by Justin Fleming, at the Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre and earlier at the Melbourne Theatre Company in 2008, with uniquely varied rhyming verse forms.


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