Full disclosure: Molière was not born on January 15, 1622. We are actually celebrating the birthday ofJean-Baptiste Poquelin.
Son of a comfortable family fueled by the father’s position as Royal Upholsterer, Poquelin seemed to have his life fairly well laid out for him.
But two influencers (yes, even then) ended up steering him to the theater: his thespian-oriented grandfather, who took him to enjoy the bawdy farce players of the 1630s, and the vibrant red-headed actress, Madeleine Béjart, with whom he fell enamored and with whom he founded his company of players.
With this new life course, Poquelin changed his name to “Molière” to spare his family the horrible social disgrace of association with a theater career.
In contrast, we are shouting out the names of our scene performers, who will grace your Zoom screens for his 399th birthday celebration at 5:30 pm on 15 January 2021. Just as Molière’s success and legacy must be shared with an entourage of actors, composers, dancers, artists, musicians, and storytellers, who maximized his works, we have a shining cast to ring out his words. All the talents mentioned above – and more! Museum directors, ballet directors, cultural representatives, civic officials, journalists, a harpist. Thecrème de la crèmeof Kansas City creativity and energy.*
A soprano, a rapper, a drag artist, and a balloon wizardess walk into a Molière reading.Oui! The 40-minute program will include entertaining excerpts from a variety of Molière’s plays. And a bonus segment from a new play written byPhilip blue owl Hooserimagining the French fur traders introducing Molière to the First Nations of the Missouri Valley. What’s more, there will be snippetsen française et en anglais.
And no one faces prison, as did Molière — twice.Mayor Quinton Lucashas endorsed the evening. His assistant wrote, “Though he would normally jump at the chance to participate in this event, he is unable to do so due to an already scheduled engagement at that time. … we look forward to perhaps having him there next year.”Voilà! So you are safe and secure to laugh, wonder, and sigh at Molière’s preeminence — from wherever you choose to watch this Zoom presentation. (You must respond to the forthcoming Evite invitation with a “yes”, as this is the only way you will receive the Zoom link.) *(In alphabetical order using stage names): Calvin Arsenia,Molly Balloons,Jeff Bentley,Victoria Sofia Botero,Daisy Buckët,Stuart Carden,Devon Carney,Hillary Clemens,Consuelo Cruz,Jean-Charles Foyer,Kadesh Flow,Christopher Leitch,Gayle Levy,Ron Megee,Sean O’Harrow,Steve Paul,Nicole Hodges Persley,Matt Schwader,Cyprienne Simchowitz,Andrea Tudhope,Julián Zugazagoitia
The Evite for the birthday party will be emailed a few days after this newsletter.
If you don’t get an Evite, go to the calendar on our website, or click the button below to RSVP. Remember, the only way you will get a Zoom link is if you tell us you’re coming!
François de Mazières, mayor of Versailles since 2008, founder of Le Mois Molière in 1996
Mayor of Versailles Invites Partnership
with KC MOlière: 400 in 2022
Thanks to initiatives by Cyprienne Simchowitz and Rachel Priest, Molière’s Kansas City supporters are getting a big international boost. A December 10 email from cultural adjunct Emmanuelle de Crépy in the office of François de Mazières, mayor of Versailles, proposes a partnership between their annual festival Le Mois Molière and KC MOlière:400 in 2022.
Jean-Baptiste Robin, organist of the Chapelle Royale at Versailles
The invitation came as a result of Cyprienne’s outreach to Jean-Baptiste Robin, the renowned organist of the Chapelle Royale at Versailles. Robin recently emailed Cyprienne that he had spoken about KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 with François de Mazières, who as artistic director of the Mois Molière, expressed great enthusiasm for our endeavors. And indeed, the mayor’s office followed through very quickly:
François de Mazières, Maire de Versailles souhaite également commémorer cet anniversaire en 2022. Il est très intéressé par un partenariat avec vous soit en janvier 2022 (en fonction des dates exposées dans votre proposition), soit si possible lors du festival de Versailles « le Mois Molière » en juin 2022 et dont il est le directeur artistique depuis 25 ans environ. Nous restons toutefois ouverts à d’autres possibilités de dates.
As translated by Jim Weitzel: François de Mazières, Mayor of Versailles also wishes to commemorate this anniversary in 2022. He is very interested in a partnership with you either in January 2022 (depending on the dates set out in your proposal), or if possible during the Versailles festival “Le Mois Molière” in June 2022 and of which he has been the artistic director for 25 years. However, we remain open to other possible dates.
Le Mois Molière, an annual festival of theatre and music in Versailles each June, was founded by Mazières in 1996 and has grown over the years to attract over 100,000 festival-goers for 350 theatre productions and concerts in 60 different locations around the city. Robin reports that Versailles is a contender for designation as the 2022 cultural capital of Europe.
For the first Mois Molière in June 1996, when Mazières served as adjunct in the mayor’s office, the director of the city’s 18th-century Théâtre Montansier staged Molière’s La Jalousie du barbouillé on a wagon that took the show to various parts of the city. Molière and comedy remain at the core of the festival, but plays on related themes appear also, especially in work by young companies. Indeed, Le Mois Molière has been called a stepping-stone to the 72-year-old Festival d’Avignon. Commedia dell’arte is another facet of Le Mois Molière, and all the masters of that art have participated in roundtables and workshops there, including the renowned Antonio Fava, who came to Kansas City in 2015 to share his skills with Stephanie Roberts, her MFA acting students, and local theatre educators.
François de Mazières, first elected mayor in 2008 and recently re-elected in a virtual landslide, has continued to focus on making culture accessible to all. According to his website:
En tant que haut fonctionnaire, député des Yvelines ou maire de Versailles, il n’a cessé de se battre pour faire de la culture une priorité. Par goût personnel, mais surtout parce que chaque jour, il constate qu’entretenir un terreau culturel ambitieux, c’est lutter contre les inégalités, la violence, tisser du lien social, renouer avec la beauté, la richesse de notre passé pour mieux construire notre avenir. Devenu le plus important festival de théâtre d’Ile-de-France, Le Mois Molière, qu’il a créé à Versailles il y a vingt ans avec des centaines de bénévoles, confirme sur le terrain que la culture n’est pas un luxe, elle peut s’adresser à tous et elle doit redevenir notre priorité nationale, si nous ne voulons pas perdre ce qui fait l’unité, l’art de vivre, la prospérité et l’âme de ce pays depuis plus de cinq siècles.
As translated by Felicia Londré: In his various official capacities as deputy from Yvelines or as mayor of Versailles, he [Mazières] never ceased pushing to make culture a priority. Besides his personal inclination, he is above all motivated each day by the belief that planting a fertile ground for culture is to struggle against inequalities and violence, to knit together the social fabric, to bind us together with the beauty and richness of our past in order to better build our future. Recognized as the most important festival of theatre in the Paris region, Le Mois Molière, which he founded in Versailles twenty years ago with hundreds of volunteers, serves as on-the-ground confirmation that culture is not a luxury. Culture can and must reach everyone and assert itself as our national priority so that we don’t lose the very underpinning of our unity, our art of living, our prosperity, and what has been the soul of our nation for over five centuries.
Londré and her team will work with Versailles to determine whether and how far this new partnership might allow for exchanges, either in personnel or productions or both, between KC MOlière: 400 in 2022and Le Mois Molière.
by Calan Welder
By interacting with French plays on an analytical level, young students open a portal back in time directly to the cultural milieu that birthed Molière’s most inspired works, which lie at the heart of Kansas City’s own history.
All Kansas City area students — public, private, or charter schools — are eligible to submit 500 to 900-word essays through their teachers any time from now until the deadline on Friday 2 April 2021. Winners of cash prizes and publication on our website will be announced in May 2021.
Our panels of independent judges will award cash prizes of $100, $50, and $25 to first, second, and third place winners in each of two categories: grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Teachers, students, and their families will be invited to an awards reception in late May or early June.
Co-chair, Linda Ade Brand,
maintains outreach to the Nelson-Atkins Gallery where she plans to stage an evening of Baroque song and art. Co-chair Tracy Terstriep Herber is paving the way for Pembroke Hill School’s participation in both French and Theatre.
Visual & Popular Arts
Co-chairs Trudie Homan and Beth Byrd-Lonski both look forward to the culmination of the long process of putting together a Molière coloring book. Ten Kansas City artists will have their drawings featured in it. The coloring book is expected to go to press in January.
TheK-12Committeenow has a mailing list of over 700 area teachers of drama, language arts, and French who receive a monthly newsletter from Co-chairsDanielle TrebusandMartin English! The October newsletter offered an overview of various opportunities for teachers, with special reference to our website as a resource. The Novembernewsletterfocused onJeu de Plume, the essay competition withCalan Welderas Chief of Operations. Board Vice President, Sarah Ingram-Eiser, will oversee the judging process. There will be three judges for essays from grades 6 to 8 and three judges for essays from grades 9 to 12. A reception on Saturday 5 June at KC Young Audiences will honor the winners, their teachers, and their families. If this 2020-21Jeu de Plumegoes well, we might repeat it in 2021-22.
Other initiatives in progress include the Mobile Molière unit directed byStephanie Roberts, who also has a one-woman commedia and mask demonstration for booking into schools. The first teacher resources on Molière is now available on the website, and others will follow soon. Clickhereto learn more.
Jennifer MartinandMechele Leon, co-chairs of the Colleges & Universities Committee, report that planning is underway by member institutions for their 2021-22 seasons, with encouragement to schedule their productions in the fall of 2021. The next newsletter will have some titles and dates to announce. Some preliminary discussions are underway for a couple of joint productions.
The Fundraising Committeemailed out a year-end fundraising appeal letter in October. Don Dagenais, chair, enlistedPat Dagenaisto help him, and together they stuffed over 400 envelopes. That effort brought in donations of a bit over $3,000! Thank you so much to those who have donated! As for the others, there is still time between now and December 31 to make a donation and receive a 2020 tax deduction. Don asks that you remember Molière as you are writing your checks for year-end contributions. We appreciate any help you can give. Clickhereto donate now. The Fundraising Committee is also working on several possible foundation grants. While we do not qualify for a number of grants because we don’t have a three-year operating history (a requirement of many, such as the Missouri Arts Council and ArtsKC, for example), there are still several foundations who might entertain an application from us. Committee members are working with those foundations in an effort to set up meetings and hopefully follow up with formal grant applications, if the foundations appear receptive.
Thank you to our donors. We appreciate you.
Michael W. Beahm
Dan & Ginnie Bukovac
Don & Patricia Dagenais
Bill & Marge Eckhardt
Erik & Bev Elving
Tracy Terstriep Herber
Stuart Hinds and Christopher Leitch
The Hinds Leitch Family Trust
Fred & Trudie Homan
Roena Haynie & Charles Reitz
Brian D. & Patience Jones
R. Crosby Kemper III
Bryan & Christopher LeBeau
Venne-Richard & Felicia Londré
Jennifer Martin Rebekah Mosby Patricia Cleary Miller Network for Good Michael & Mary Etta O’Neill Cheryl Diane Patrick
Kay Lutjen Patterson
Charles Reitz and Roena Haynie John Rensenhouse Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Rimann
Aaron & Chantal Roberts
Margaret Scanlon (Peggy Friesen)
Cyprienne Simchowitz & Jerry White Rebecca Smith Stanley Stern John Stokes
Theater League Catherine Tissot John & Cory Unrein Jim & Sarah Weitzel Calan Welder White-Simchowitz Family Charity Fund Tess Zebrowski Judith Zivanovic Julián & Tasha Zugazagoitia
Keith Nelson introduces Felicia Londré during his remarks at the fountain on 27 August. Photo by Colleen Doctorian.
Keith Nelson introduces playwright Philip blue owl Hooser in front of the future Chouteau and Native American Heritage Fountain. Photo by Bill Pryor.
Molière Represented at Chouteau Fountain
Just a day too late for reporting in our fall newsletter, an event at the future François Chouteau and Native American Heritage Fountain got our playwright, Philip blue owl Hooser, introduced to the public and to the media who gathered on the site where his play will premiere on 24 July 2021. The play will be available for touring to schools during fall semester.
For Hooser, it was a chance to see the lay of the land in front of the fountain where four actors will present Tartuffenmiserthrope! The one-act comedy will be featured during a day of festivities to celebrate the fountain’s opening, the bicentennial of Chouteau’s fur-trading post that gave birth to Kansas City, and the bicentennial of Missouri statehood.
Representatives from the Kansas City Council and Kansas City Parks and Recreation convened the gathering to present Chouteau Fountain co-founder Keith Nelson with a proclamation honoring his many contributions to the city, including ten years of ceaseless activism to create a beautiful and educational monument to the pioneering French founder of Kansas City. In his remarks, Nelson introduced both Hooser and Felicia Londré and enthused about the role of KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 in the forthcoming celebrations.
Those who attend Molière’s 399th birthday celebration via Zoom at 5:30pm on 15 January 2022 will get a sneak preview of Tartuffenmiserthrope! Ron Megee and Daisy Buckët will read the opening sequence in which François and his wife Bérénice Chouteau plan to share some French culture with the Osage by performing what they remember of Molière’s plays.
The Chouteau Fountain website, www.chouteaufountain.org, includes an article about Hooser and his play. We value this collaboration!
Watch our partner’s video about why you should take French with Alliance Française.
Click on their logo for the video.
A Bûche de Noël (Yule Log) is a traditional French dessert enjoyed at Christmas.Bring your version of the Bûche de Noël to the French Market at 6943 Tomahawk Rd. in Prairie Village on Saturday the 19th between 1 and 2 pm.
The contest will take place at 4 pm, and the winner will receive a surprise made in the French Market. You get to keep yourbûche.