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Alliance Française – Molière 2.0

In March, Columbia’s Alliance Française put on a very special play:

…an original artisanal distillation of Molière’s best known plays, including, in prose: La jalousie du barbouillé, Le médecin volant, Les précieuses ridicules, Le mariage forcé, L’amour médcin, Le médecin malgré lui, L’avare, Le bourgeois gentilhomme, Les fourberies de Scapin, Le Malade imaginaire;  and in verse: Sganarelle ou le cocu imaginaire, L’école des maris, L’école des femmes, Le tartuffe, Le Misanthrope, Les femmes savantes.

Phew! That’s a lot to include in one performance. If you’ve ever seen The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), you have some idea of what kind of ride this is. This script, though, was created locally, by the members and performers of Le Club Théâtre, piecing together Molière’s dialogue to create a coherent (and hilarious) tale of love, lust, deception, and pride. Oh yeah, I’m not sure if I mentioned this, but the play is performed entirely in French.

You see:

The Alliance Française is a worldwide non-profit organization founded in Paris in 1883. It is part of a network of over 1,000 chapters in 133 countries. In the United States, the Alliance Française counts more than 140 locations…The mission of The Alliance is to encourage the study of the French language and the various cultures of French-speaking countries and, more specifically, to foster friendly relations between the French-speaking and American peoples.

The Alliance puts on several events throughout the city including plays put on by Le Club Théâtre , conversation groups (groupes de conversation), a book club (club du livre), and recently, a contest to create original 60-second films performed in French.

Now, if I’m perfectly honest, I (J.P.) didn’t understand everything said in the play…or, well, very much of it at all. (My French is more See Spot Run than Shakespeare.) That said, I was able to follow along thanks to a helpful summary of events in the program and the wonderful, expressive performances of the cast. Speaking of which, here they are:

Moliere 2.0

Moliere 2.0

Moliere 2.0

Do you see those wonderful wigs they’re wearing? They were all hand-made for this performance.

And here is Molière himself, or rather Dr. Jeff Persels, who both assembled the script, wrote the original frame story, and directed the play. (He was also one of Wendy’s professors at USC, and directed her while she was a student as le chat botté in a theatrical performance that was a mélange of various France fairy tales by Perrault. (Antonio Banderas is fine, but I still prefer her interpretation.))


And here is the whole cast, just after their performance at Columbia Museum of Art.

The cast of Moliere 2.0

If you are a French-speaker, would like to be, or would like to move your skills beyond the scope of DuoLingo, I highly suggest visiting the web page of the Alliance Française. Perhaps meet up with them at The Publick House and have a chat in the language of love. It’s a great group of folks and they almost certainly won’t break out those giant syringes…probably.

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