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Graduate Ensemble Challenge Conventions in The Misanthrope

Posted October 2, 2012 in Press Releases

MFA Acting Program Class of 2014 Take on Molière’s Masterpiece

The Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program will present The Misanthrope in the Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre ("The Helen") at PlayhouseSquare from October 24 – November 3, 2012. Written by Molière (translation by Richard Wilbur) and directed by Donald Carrier, the associate director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program, this classic 17th-century comedy of manners presents Alceste, a French aristocrat, who yearns for a world without flattery and deceit.The Misanthrope marks the second performance of the MFA second year acting graduate ensemble (class of 2014) and offers a unique chance to follow these actors in their graduate training. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5.00 for students with a valid ID and are on sale now by calling 216.241.6000 or online at

“Molière’s earlier plays were infused with a kind of free-wheeling energy derived from his long apprenticeship in the world of commedia dell’arte, but The Misanthrope occupies a territory somewhere between romantic comedy and dark satire, which is, of course, why it remains so modern and accessible,” says director Donald Carrier. “We all experience the unenviable task of negotiating our way through relationships at home, work and play, employing the sometimes strained social niceties that define accepted behavior.”


Is honesty always the best policy? Alceste, a French aristocrat, is committed to telling the absolute truth regardless of the repercussions to the dismay of his friends and the royal court. Unfortunately, he’s in love with the flighty young widow Célimène, who epitomizes society’s excesses, and a comedic collision course of values is inevitable. Is Alceste, who was originally portrayed by the playwright himself, an idealist who believes in absolute honesty in a world that is inherently dishonest and hypocritical? Or is he smug and self-righteous, believing himself exempt from even the most basic rules of human interaction, which involve tact and diplomacy? This work has withstood the test of time because of its dynamic characters and its eternally relevant commentary on the idea of truth. Written nearly 400 years ago, Molière’s witty classic demonstrates once again that the more things change, plus c’est la même chose!

Molière is the pseudonym for Jean Baptiste Poquelin, who composed 12 of the most durable and penetratingly satirical full-length comedies of all time, some in rhyming verse, some in prose, as well as six shorter farces and comedies. As a comic dramatist he ranks with such other distinctive masters of the genre as Aristophanes, Plautus, and George Bernard Shaw. He was also the leading French comic actor, stage director, and dramatic theoretician of the 17th century. As a playwright, he wasn’t scared to push the envelope, as he even performed the anti-elitist play Tartuffe at Versailles, the symbol of France’s aristocracy. He wrote and performed in 31 of the 85 plays performed by his theatre company in his 14 years in Paris. He died after suffering a hemorrhage during a performance of The Miser and though actors were not allowed to be buried in the sacred ground of the cemetery at this time, the King made an exception for him. Almost singlehandedly, he prompted international acclaim for French social comedy, and established the form as one of the more enduring types of comedy. His critical insights into the nature of types like the hypocrite, the misanthrope, and the miser remain almost as urbane today as they were when written.


For a complete list of cast bios, go online at


(Playwright), born Jean Baptiste Poquelin, was the leading French comic actor, stage director, and dramatic theoretician of the seventeenth century. In twenty-four years, starting with The Precious Maidens Ridiculed (1659), which established Molière as the most popular comic playwright of the day, and ending with The Imaginary Invalid (1673), Molière advanced from being a gifted adapter of Italian-derived sketches to a writer whose best plays had the lasting impact of tragedies. In the late 1660s, Molière developed symptomatic pulmonary tuberculosis, although he continued to write, act, direct, and manage his troupe. He collapsed on February 17, 1673, after performing the title role inThe Imaginary Invalid, and died at home several hours later.

Richard Wilbur (Translator) was born in New York City and received his Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College and a Master of Arts from Harvard. He has taught on the faculties of Harvard, Wellesley, Wesleyan, and Smith. Wilbur’s publications include six volumes of poetry and two collections of his selected verse; a volume of his collected verse; translations of Molière’s four most outstanding verse plays; the musical Candide, for which he supplied most of the lyrics; a collection of his prose, and two books for children. His highly praised verse translations of Molière’s plays The Misanthrope, Tartuffe, The School for Wives, and The Learned Ladies have all been performed in New York and are frequently presented by resident theatre companies throughout the English-speaking world. He has also completed verse translations of two of Racine’s great tragedies:Andromache and Phaedra. Among Wilbur’s numerous awards are two Pulitzer Prizes. In 1987 he was named the second Poet Laureate of the United States, succeeding Robert Penn Warren.

Donald Carrier (Director) is associate director of the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program. He has appeared in many Cleveland Play House productions, and elsewhere has directedTwo Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night, The Annex, As You Like It, Oh! What a Lovely War, Alms, Les Belles Soeurs, The Hollow, Habeas Corpus, and The Love Stories. Carrier will be directing The Crucible for the CWRU undergraduate theatre department in spring of 2013. He spent nine seasons at Stratford Festival and two seasons at the Shaw Festival. Television/film includes Guns, The Time Traveler’s Wife, The Passion of Ayn Rand, andDead by Monday. Writing credits include the musical Evangeline with Anaya Farrell, Alms,Footnotes, and Transmission.

The design team for The Misanthrope includes Cameron Caley Michalak (Scenic Design), Michael Boll (Lighting Design), Esther M. Haberlin (Costume Design), Kevin Montgomery (Sound Design) and Jeffrey Cady (Projections Designer). Also on the team: Stage Manager Jessica Lucas.

Ticket Information

Single tickets are on sale now; prices range from $5 to $15. Tickets are $5 for currently enrolled students under age 25 with valid ID. For single tickets, please call 216-241-6000 or go online.

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