Molière and his troupe were a traveling bunch. Following nobly in their path in fall 2021: Mobile Molière: The Long Path Players.
A collaboration between UMKC Theatre’s MFA actors and The Coterie Theatre, the original 50- minute play introduces audiences to a 17th century roving band of performers valiantly searching for a stage and audience to whom to present a collection of Molière’s greatest hits. Their biggest challenge, however, may be corralling the master himself. Need it be said? Laughter ensues.
Third-year MFA actors Jenise Cook, Eileen Dixon, Riley Lucas, Michael T. Oakes and Brittany Welch and student and faculty production team of Adam Hooper, Lauren Long, Brian Wesserman, Adam Terry, Bradley Meyer and Dylan McKernan will shape this Molière merriment.
UMKC Theatre associate professor Stephanie Roberts is an ideal director and leader of the project with her extensive experience in the art of comedy and, particularly Molière-appropriate, commedia dell’arte techniques and traditions. With Roberts at the helm, Mobile Molière effectively involves area middle and high schools in the citywide celebration of the French playwright. Undoubtedly there will be a shout out to all at the gala 400th Birthday celebration at the Nelson Atkins Museum on Jan. 15 (free and open to the public).
The play has been offered to local schools (audiences of 20-150 in small staged areas, not gymnasiums, as no mics are used) for booking dates October 4-8 and 11-15 at a cost of only $25, all bookings arranged through The Coterie. The first confirmed enactment will be at Olathe South for all drama students. On-campus performances will be offered either in the UMKC Student Union or room 116. The play will have public showings on Friday, October 1 at 7:00p and Saturday, October 2 at 2:00p at the Coterie Theatre.
The poster alone should capture adolescent interest as it channels video games and marvel comics. Molière comes out swingin’, takin’ no prisoners.
After all, as Charlie Chaplin said, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” Or, in this case, in Long Path Players.
The top photo line-up are L to R: Georgianna Buchanan, Julián Zugazagoitia, Mayor Quinton Lucas, MoMo, and Representative Emanuel Cleaver II
Molière and Missouri Celebrate Together
by Rebecca Smith
Molière often faced trying conditions in the 17th century. Conditions were certainly challenging for Francois Chouteau in the 19th century. When they came together in the 21st century for the Missouri Bicentennial Celebration on July 24 in the Northland – une répétition de la situation.
Blistering heat and humidity confronted everyone who attended the event but, like Molière and Chouteau, it was sur le spectacle.
And what a spectacle it was.
Kansas City, MO, Parks and Recreation planned the event to celebrate Missouri’s 200th Anniversary. (August 10, 2021 marked the 200th anniversary of Missouri entering as the 24th state.)
Many civic, historical and Native American organizations participated with information booths, craft displays and activities. There was a full schedule of live performances on stage, including Native American dancers from Springfield, period fiddlers and banjo players. Small musical ensembles serenaded the passersby with olde-time tunes. There were fur trader settlements manned by enactors and followers, wagon rides, food trucks, a silent auction of history-themed goods and a plein air painting contest. A kids’ stage was active with puppet, bubbles, juggling and hula hoop demonstrations.
And the next element of the statuary at the site was unveiled. An indigenous warrior sighting a beaver in a hollow log was added to the impressive 3-person sculpture placed there over a year ago. The complete fountain and park, it is increasingly clear, will be a meaningful attraction to the city (see chouteaufountain.org for renderings).
Mayor Quinton Lucas and Representative Emmanuel Cleaver II and other city officials took the stage and heralded the historic occasion.
Of course, for all Molière fans, existing and new, the highlight of the day was the debut performance of Tartuffenthrope!, the play commissioned from Philip blue owl Hooser, who, as a member of the Choctaw Nation, imagined the attempt of François and Berenice Chouteau to connect with the native people through the introduction of theatre and, specifically, Molière. Directed by Nathan Bowman, also of indigenous descent, and stage managed by Elena Nguyen, the play featured Brian Duskey, Kitty Corum and Derek Trautwein. They thoroughly entertained what was the largest audience of the day, performers and viewers alike prevailing admirably and enthusiastically over the heat.
As had the native tribe in Hooser’s fantasy, the audience was pulled into Molière’s world and characters, and all embraced the jocularity.
MoMo further added a festive air, charming ladies and toddlers with his 17th-century flourishes and twirling the flags of both Missouri and France.
KC MOlière: 400 in 2022volunteers at the booth were friendly ambassadors, dispensing information and effectively promoting all things Molière to the public. Patricia Williams, Danielle Trebus, Margaret Shelby, Jennifer Martin, Fred Homan, Chantal Roberts, Jim Weitzel, and Rebecca Smith performed their duties with aplomb.
The greatest appreciation goes to Heidi Markle, Manager, Marketing & Events, Kansas City, who managed the event from start to finish. Her attention to KC MOlière: 400 in 2022and to all participants was invaluable.
In a defined way, this 200th was the lead up to the 400th – Molière’s birthday, that is, on January 15, 2022, when our playwright will be honored with a grande fête at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, free and open to the public.
At theKC MOlière: 400 in 2022 booth, visitors were informed as to the importance of Molière and all that is being offered to the community in his name. Certainly, Tartuffenthrope! emphasized that and, it is hoped, will result in a higher interest and support for KC MOlière: 400 in 2022’s mission.
The ending theme of the play is, after all, the universality of the stories we all tell. Surely there is no better example of that than Molière and his timeless storylines and characters.
The French fur traders and the native peoples found a way to live together and thrive. The territory forged ahead to become Missouri, the 24th state. Who knows but that Molière was looking on with nostalgie? Oh, the material it would have offered him!
Tartuffenthrope! has been nominated for Best Play!!!
You can use the link below to VOTE for us before 30 September 2021.
No question this is an extraordinary piece of writing by Philip blue owl Hooser. It draws on local multi-ethnic history in a way that is both funny and uplifting. At 28 minutes playing time, it is perfect for both outdoor performance and school programs. We are currently taking bookings into KC area K-12 schools. Click here for booking information.
If you saw the performance at the François Chouteau and Native American Heritage Fountain dedication (24 July) or at the Ethnic Enrichment Festival (20 August), you know this has earned your VOTE.
KC MOlière:400 in 2022thanks you for your support.