Directing Molière: Presenting the French Master to American Audiences
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This thesis examines the presentation of the plays of Molière by American directors for American audiences. How have his works been produced and reimagined by directors from his own country? What are the qualities of successful American productions of a French masterpiece? What is the best way to present these works to American audiences? How have specific American directors put their stamp on Molière? What can Molière teach American audiences 350 years after his death? Chapter one presents a control group in an overview of the works of Molière conceived by French directors for French audiences. Using specific productions directed by Jacques Copeau, Louis Jouvet, Robert Planchon, Antoine Vitez and Ariane Mnouchkine, the importance each director places on Molière and the necessity to bring his plays to life on stage will be traced throughout the twentieth century. Chapter two shifts the focus to three American productions of The Misanthrope. Examining the 1989 production directed by Robert Falls and two 1992 productions in Baltimore and Philadelphia, the techniques of each director are explored to illustrate a path to their creations using three different translations. Chapter three discusses director Kenneth Albers and how early productions of Molière influenced his professional career, through an examination of his work directing The Imaginary Invalid in 1995 and The Misanthrope in 1996 for The Missouri Repertory Theatre in Kansas City. Chapter four presents a case study of a production of The Learned Ladies in 2015, directed by Theodore Swetz at the University of Missouri–Kansas City. As the author of this thesis played a role in the production, he possesses first-hand knowledge of the process. Through interviews with the director, and through the dissemination of the author’s own observations throughout the process, the methodology the director employed is discussed as he shaped the production for a twenty-first-century American audience.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Chapter 1. A french foundation -- Chapter 2. The Misanthrope across the United States -- Chapter 3. Kenneth Albers: an American director's perspective of Molière -- Chapter 4. Case study: The Learned Ladies, directed by Theodore Swetz -- Conclusion