Clowning: UVU Theater Arts presents a unique interpretation of “Tartuffe”


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The last thing you expect in the theater is an actor announcing that there will be no dialogue in the performance that is going to take place. But that’s exactly what theater lovers experienced this weekend in the courtyard of the UVU.

Director Cleveland McKay Nicoll came up with the idea of ​​incorporating the clown into the UVU Theater Arts production of “Tartuffe”, which premiered Thursday, September 6th. “Tartuffe” is one of the most famous works of the French playwright Molière. It was first performed in France in 1664 and has since been performed around the world and translated into almost every language.

When the Patriarch of the Orgon family (Becca Ashton) devotes himself to the pious fraud Tartuffe (Wade Robert Johnson), his family is plunged into a frenzy. Between having been promised to Orgon’s daughter, Mariane (Kat Hawley) but always making advances to his wife (McKell Peterson), Tartuffe is each time annoyed by everyone except d’Orgon. The family hatches a plot to expose the impostor and regain a sense of normalcy, with comedic results.

This piece was the president’s show of this semester. The President’s Show kicks off the theater arts season each fall; it is chosen by the school president and is generally a classical piece. It is also played outside in the courtyard of the UVU, where the dialogue can be difficult to hear. Because of this challenge, Nicoll wanted to make “Tartuffe” as universally understood as possible. The best way to do it, he decided, was to cut out the dialogue and focus on the physicality that the clown brings to a production.

“[You wouldn’t] miss what the actors say because they wouldn’t say anything, ”Nicoll said. “Physical humor is timeless and universal. The clown concerns us as humans, and its scope is therefore much more global. In a note the director included in the show’s schedule, he said he “wanted to do something simple that everyone could enjoy.”

The team spent three weeks in rehearsals focusing on discovering their clown characters and adjusting to the physical demands. True to their word, the actors didn’t speak while performing, instead using movement and physical humor to convey the plot. During the performance, they frequently ran around the audience and asked for their participation, making the production an interactive and hilarious experience.

“I certainly didn’t expect clowns when I came to see the show,” said UVU student Jeffica Prout. Another student, Blaine Rizzo, agreed and said, “They did a great job with the script though. It was easy to follow. “

This production was truly unique. Nicoll said: “[it] was an exploration of the art of performance that was not discussed here at UVU, in production, or in the classroom.

“Tartuffe” still has three performances before closing. To see from September 10 to 12 at 5 p.m. in the courtyard outside the Sorenson Center. Tickets are $ 3 for students and $ 5 for general admission.


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