UC Berkeley presents Tartuffe: Molière’s classic comedy, translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur

Berkeley, CA – September 2018 UC Berkeley’s Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) continues its 2018-19 season with Tartuffe, a daring and witty comedy that tells the story of a crafty trickster who uses religion as a guise to flatter the vulnerability of a wealthy patriarch. Initially censored following its 1664 premiere, the play is one of Molière’s most famous works and will be presented at the Zellerbach Playhouse stage on the UC Berkeley campus. Translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur, and directed by Domenique Lozano, Tartuffe runs November 9-18. Tickets are $13 to $20 and can be purchased online through the TDPS box office (http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/tartuffe/) or at the door.

A con man disguised as a pious spiritual leader wheedles his way into the home of a gullible, affluent man in the midst of a mid-life crisis—and promptly sets the household topsy turvy. If not for the quick witted Dorine, grounded Elmire, and infinitely patient Cléante, all might be lost! Lechery, egotism, young love, deception, and delusion collide in Tartuffe, Molière’s classic work that skewers religious hypocrisy and self-inflated egotism.

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 and con man can 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.”

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 of Tartuffe 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. “I love that it is a comedy,” shares Lozano, “one that moves with lightning speed, slams characters up against each other brutally and brilliantly, and deals with a terrifying situation using humor, wit and grace.”  

Lozano embraces the challenge of working with the play’s rhyming couplets and verse: “
Molière’s humor and astonishing wit in the rhyme invites us into a world where people are boldly exposed and revealed. The rhyming allows him to be brutally honest. He can say the most wicked things, or portray Tartuffe’s avarice and underbelly so directly, but because it’s written in rhyme, we don’t turn our faces away. Rather, we laugh and actually ‘see’ it more clearly. The rhyme keeps the piece from being a dark tragedy, and in a way, gives us hope.”

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.”

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Production Details
Tartuffe opens Friday, November 9 and continues through Sunday, November 18, 2018 at the Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley campus. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm, and Sunday at 2pm. General admission tickets are $18 online and $20 at the door; Tickets for students, seniors, and UC Berkeley faculty and staff are $13 online and $15 at the door. Tickets are on sale through the TDPS Box Office at http://tdps.berkeley.edu/events/tartuffe/ or at the door.

Tartuffe features scenic design by Annie Smart, costume design by Wendy Sparks, lighting design by Jack Carpenter, and sound design by Emily Fassler. The cast includes Diana Alvarado, Nidhi Chalgeri, Adam Dada, Devin Guilfoyle, Sofie Herbeck, Anastasia Liu, Ibrahim Mohyuddin, Shea Nolan, Claire Pearson, Amalia Sgoumpopoulou, Angelina Steshenko, David Truong, Stefan Wayne, Arthur Weiss, Drew Woodson, Sahel Zargari.

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About TDPS
The Department of Theater, Dance and Performance Studies teaches performance as a mode of critical inquiry, creative expression and public engagement. Through performance training and research, we create liberal arts graduates with expanded analytical, technical and imaginative capacities. As a public institution, we make diversity and inclusion a key part of our teaching, art making and public programming.

About Domenique Lozano
Ms. Lozano is a Bay Area based Director, Educator and Actress. She has been a Resident Artist with the American Conservatory Theater (ACT), for 15 years, where she directs the main stage production of A Christmas Carol. She also served as a core faculty member in the MFA Program, and a teacher in the Young Conservatory and Studio ACT Programs. Other directing work at ACT includes MFA Productions of Fuente Ovejuna, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Sueno, Happy to Stand, Saved, References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, Richard III, Caught with Her Trance Down, as well as productions of Twelfth Night, Othello, and The Comedy of Errorsf or the Will on Wheels tour; and thirteen graduate showcases. Her work with the Young Conservatory includes two international exchanges, one with the Zurich School of Music, Drama and Dance of Paul Steinman’s Only Victory; as well as Jodie Marshall’s A Stone’s Throw, with the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. Other YC directing credits include the world premieres of Staying Wild book by Janet Allard, music and lyrics by Creighton Irons; Home Front book by Craig Slaight, music and lyrics by Creighton Irons; Sarah Daniel’s Dust and Constance Congdon’s Nightingales; West Coast premieres of Jeffrey Hatcher’s Korczak’s Children; Wendy MacLeod’s School Girl Figure; and Darling, book by Brett Rybeck, music and lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver; as well as the American premiere of Sharman MacDonald’s After Juliet.

Ms. Lozano was an Associate Artist with the California Shakespeare Theater, where she performed leading roles in over 20 productions, most recently the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. She also served as Master Vocal Coach on numerous productions, including Hamlet, Henry IV pts 1 and 2, Othello, the Tempest, Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, and The Taming of the Shrew.

Additional Bay Area directing credits include The Drawer Boy, Welcome Home Jenny Sutter and the critically acclaimed Orlando with TheatreFirst; The Countess with Center REPertory Theatre; Two for the Seesaw with Marin Theatre Company; Inspecting Carol and the West Coast premiere of Jane Martin’s Anton in Show Business with San Jose Stage Company; and The Norman Conquests, Holiday, The Real Thing, and She Loves Me with Napa Valley Repertory Theatre, of which she was a founding member and associate artistic director. Additional acting credits include work with the American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, San Jose Stage Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Ms. Lozano has taught throughout the Bay Area at such institutions as UC Davis, Saint Mary’s College, Berkeley Repertory School of Theatre, California Shakespeare Theater, Las Positas and Solano Colleges. She also translated Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, which premiered at the American Conservatory Theater in 2010, and Schiller’s Don Carlos, which premiered in the 2018 New Strands Festival.

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For Calendar Editors
TARTUFFE by Molière, translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur
One of Molière’s most famous works, Tartuffe is a daring and witty comedy that tells the story of a crafty trickster who uses religion as a guise to flatter his way into the home of a wealthy household. Initially censored following its 1664 premiere, this classic play is relevant in current times, using sharp humor to depict hypocrisy and corruption.

Directed by Domenique Lozano
November 9-18, 2018
UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies
Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, CA
Performances: Fri-Sat 8 PM; Sun 2 PM
Pricing: Prices range from $13-20.
Tickets: Visit tdps.berkeley.edu for more information and to purchase tickets.