Emma Esteb – Staff Writer
The Misanthrope is being performed by the Gustavus Theatre Department in the second week of November. It’s a 17th century rom-com in verse that emphasizes and compares our pop culture to French society in 1666. The show was written by Molière and has been translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur. The production stars their misanthrope, Alceste, who demands honesty from all.
The hilarious rom-com unfolds as the audience watches the “witty banter of friends, the unraveling of love, and how French society in 1666 is not at all different from our reality TV stars of today” according to the Gustavus website. Director Kimberly Braun said this show “is the hottest ticket in town” as they have already sold out for opening night. The show runs from Nov. 11 at 8 PM to Nov. 14 at 2 PM.
Gustavus is also taking safety precautions due to COVID-19. All ticket holders must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result received within 72 hours of the show, and a valid photo ID to attend the performance according to the Gustavus website. During the production, masks must be worn by all audience members regardless of vaccination status.
Despite the limitations due to COVID-19, Braun said she is looking forward to “hearing an audience laugh.”
The physical presence of a live audience is what theatre thrives on. The student actors, designers, and directors have been working hard to create this show and are excited to finally share it with an audience.
The Gustavus Theatre Department performed two shows and made a podcast last year. All three of those events were recorded with no live audience due to the pandemic. Student Stage Manager Junior Austin Alder is most excited to see how the audience perceives the show as humor is a major component in the production.
The humorous aspect of this show is a crucial part of The Misanthrope as it ties the audience with funny pop culture references. By discussing and poking fun at today’s pop culture, the audience can be engaged and relate to many aspects of the show. The set resembles a reality TV set and was created by Visiting Assistant Professor in Theatre and Dance, Lydia Francis.
The theme of pure honesty defines Alceste as a character while the intelligent love interest, Célimène, believes that sometimes telling a small fib is okay. These contrasting beliefs have the audience questioning if there is a middle ground between extreme honesty and cliquey gossip. As the two of them fall in love, the audience contemplates where they stand on this belief.
The show uses verses and dialogue to establish an “existential question that applies to everyday life” Alder said. The two extremes portrayed by the main characters are common ideas where everyone falls one way or the other. The relevance of the theme and the mentions of pop culture keep this show interesting.
The student actors, managers, designers, and directors have been working hard to perfect this show.
Braun is excited to see the students show off their honed acting techniques and to have the audience an opportunity to admire the work of the designers.
Within this production there are many moving parts behind the scenes. As the audience sees a beautiful set and a hilarious show, stage manager Alder is backstage calling stage cues and making sure everything is running smoothly. Prep before and after the performance are crucial for a successful show. Alder’s role in the show is to make sure all actors, lights, props, and sound cues are in line.
Alder applied for the role of student manager and has stepped into that position with many responsibilities. With all of those responsibilities, Alder is primarily nervous about nailing the stage cues. These cues trigger an action to be carried out at a specific time during the show.
The backstage staff works hard to make sure the whole production runs smoothly and creates the show they envisioned. Both students and faculty work together to create this production. Each individual involved plays a vital role in the show.
With opening night fast approaching, the students and staff members are working hard to clean up the finishing touches. The Misanthrope emphasizes the theme of honesty and uses humor to compliment this idea. This rom-com will bring the audience to their feet and fill the theater with laughter as the Gustavus Theatre Production takes the stage again with a live audience in The Misanthrope.