Despite renovations currently happening at the Yuba College theater the semester theater production still continues. It is kicking things off this fall with a production of the French play “The Miser” which is being directed by David Wheeler, Professor of Theater.
The play was authored by a popular playwright and actor named Molière who was originally christened Jean Baptiste Poquelin. A seventeenth-century playwright and actor from France, Molière greatly influenced French comedy. He created many tropes used in French comedy today such as the use of double vision, the normal and the abnormal placed side by side, as well as several characters personifying certain qualities such as religious hypocrisy and hypochondria.
“The Miser” itself is a comedy of manners centering on the titular character of the miser Harpagon (played by Andre Roldan-Leben) and his insatiable lust for money, as well as the desires of his children, who wish to flee from his penny-pinching and paranoid grasp. The children, all grown and ready to marry, conspire to separate Harpagon from his wealth and hold it hostage until they are allowed by their father to marry those they each love.
Molière was a bit of a trend-setter while writing his plays and The Miser was no different. Interestingly, the play involves an early example of breaking the fourth wall, or ignoring the imaginary wall between the audience and the actors. Often in Elizabethan comedies characters would speak directly to the audience, halting the action on stage, with the other characters unaware of the added commentary. In The Miser the other characters remark on this action asking or demanding to know whom the wall-breaker was speaking to.
The Miser is a great example of seventeenth century French comedy, but is not so lofty or esoteric that you need to hold a Masters in French Literature to enjoy it. The play will be hosted at the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council at 631 E Street in Marysville. The October 15 showing is actually a special “free night of theater” event, requiring no charge for admission. However, if you are unable to make that day the play will be performed on the following days: October 9, 10, 16, 17, 22, 23, and the 24 at 8:00 pm. It will also be performed on the 18 and 25 of October at 2:00 pm. Tickets cost: $5 for students and seniors and $8 for adults.