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Fall Newsletter 2022
Vol. V, No. 4
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<<First Name>>, What was your favorite part of the 400th birthday?

KC MOlière: 400 in 2022’s very first newsletter (Autumn 2018) began with the words “Il y avait une fois…” and noted the role of Etienne de Veniard, sieur de Bourgmont (1679-1734), in paving the way for a French presence in the region around the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, the future site of Kansas City. Veniard interacted extensively with several Native nations and, in the 1710s, was the first European to map the Missouri River.

As we considered how to tie Molière’s 400th birthday to Kansas City’s French heritage, we decided to emphasize the role of François Chouteau, who established the first trading post at the confluence in autumn 1821. As the first European settler on the land, he is known as “the father of Kansas City.” The strong French presence in Kansas City’s history is commemorated in eleven historical markers placed by the Chouteau Society in 1982.
 
Chouteau Parkway is a major thoroughfare not far from where the original trading post stood on the north side of the Missouri River. When we learned that The François Chouteau and Native American Heritage Fountain and sculpture group would be completed in summer 2021 for the 200th anniversary of Chouteau’s trading post (that is, within a couple of months of Molière’s 400th on 15 January 2022),
KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 commissioned playwright Philip blue owl Hooser to write a play that would imaginatively tie together Molière, the Chouteau family, and the Osage who welcomed them. Tartuffenthrope! premiered at the dedication of the fountain on 24 July 2021 and later at Kansas City’s Ethnic Enrichment Festival.

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KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 generated numerous public events during the three years leading up to the big public celebration of Molière’s 400th birthday. MoMo, our mascot-head Molière (MO is the postal abbreviation for Missouri) has kissed hands and posed for photos with people at these gatherings. For Molière’s 398th birthday, Kansas City celebrities from various fields joined us at KC Melting Pot Theatre to read snippets from Molière’s plays. That success led us to follow the same formula on Zoom for the 399th  birthday. During the pandemic we premiered three new translations in readings on Zoom. Bimonthly Zoom meetings of the Molière book club attracted participants from
as far away as New York and Michigan. Film-makers John Rice and Amanda Davison donated their talents to produce a promotional video and later a video tribute for the 400th birthday celebration.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory created a Mobile Molière touring unit of five actors who performed their delightful one-hour show at seven area schools as well as public performances on campus and at The Coterie Theatre in October 2021.

With support from the Consulat Général de France’s Chicago office, Pembroke-Hill School premiered Alli Jordan’s original one-act The Precious Young Men on a bill with Molière’s The Precious Young Women. Five area universities included a Molière play on their season bills. The Académie Lafayette presented scenes in French and English. Four professional companies presented works: the world premiere translation of Mademoiselle Molière by Gérard Savoisien at The Unicorn; the world premiere of The Pests (a new verse translation of Les Fâcheux) at Kansas City Actors Theatre; the world
premiere of Secrets and Lies (a translation-adaptation of Sganarelle, ou le cocu imaginaire) at Kansas City Melting Pot Theatre; and Kirke Mechem’s opera Tartuffe by Landlocked Opera.
The Pests is now available from Broadway Play Publishing.
Buy The Pests Now
Other accomplishments include a new pastry developed by chocolatier André Bollier at André’s Confiserie Suisse. The Molière uses ingredients beloved by Louis XIV; it’s a chocolate-covered almond cake with candied orange zest. It was introduced at a gala event in September 2021 along with Messenger Coffee’s Molière 400 blend, and Joie de Molière, a dessert wine created by master sommelier Doug Frost for Les Bourgeois Vineyards. It's worth a look at the website to see the beautiful Molière labels created for The Molière and Joie de Molière.
Another project was a 15-page coloring book, Molière and France under the Sun King, for which ten Kansas City artists contributed their talents; it is available on Amazon.
Buy the Coloring Book Now
The big public 400th birthday celebration scheduled for Saturday 15 January 2022 in Kirkwood Hall of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art had to be postponed on ten days notice when Covid took a toll on museum staff. The new date, Sunday 1 May 2022, worked out beautifully because it coincided with the world premiere of M de Molière performed by Jérôme Pouly on 30 April and 1 May. The Warwick Theatre was sold out on 30 April for M. Pouly’s tour de force performance, followed by a festive lobby party. Our invaluable partnership with the Alliance Française de Kansas City, led by its president Catherine Tissot, made his visit possible. Besides the two performances, Pouly was interviewed on a nationwide Alliance Française Zoom and he met for an informal causerie with students from two universities. He also jollied his colleagues at the Comédie Française into making a hilariously witty film tribute to Kansas City’s celebration of Molière.
By all accounts, the 400th birthday was a great success. Many of the estimated 500 people came in costume. MoMo greeted guests and Jean-Charles Foyer presided with finesse in French and English as master of ceremonies. A Proclamation from the Mayor and City Council recognized KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 for its contribution to the arts of the city. Kansas City’s ever-popular former mayor Sly James spoke movingly about the importance of the arts, as did Nelson-Atkins Museum director Julián Zugazagoitia. Highlights of the entertainment included The Kansas City Baroque Consortium, Tracy Terstriep’s demonstration of 17th-century gesture with fans and handkerchiefs, and Cyprienne Simchowitz’s introduction of Jérôme Pouly, fresh from his matinee performance, along with other French guests, including Dr. Virginie Roche-Tiengo, who lectured two days later at the KC Public Library. From the Académie Lafayette, 44 kindergarten through third-graders sang Joyeux anniversaire Molière for the cutting of the four-tiered cake.
Notice!

KC MOlière: 400 in 2022's website will be taken offline by the end of 2022. So download all the old the newsletters and the educational resources now if you want to keep them!
Our Project Ends But Molière Lives On
 
by Felicia Londré, President
 
After a glorious run of more than three years as a 501c3 nonprofit corporation,
KC MOlière:  400 in 2022 is wrapping up all loose ends to submit our Plan of Dissolution to the State of Missouri. This -- our seventeenth newsletter -- is the last one, and we send it with warmest good wishes to all who have shared this journey with us.
 
It's a bittersweet moment as we bid farewell to so many hardworking participants in the great venture with a core mission of reminding the public that the great classics of art are foundational to our continuing enrichment from all the arts. We focused on Molière as his 400th birthday coincided with Kansas City's 200th anniversary of permanent settlement by French fur-traders in harmony with the Natives who shared the bounty of this land. We hope that the rediscovery Molière's timeless comedies will honor continuing inclusiveness of time-tested artists from Sophocles to Tennessee Williams alongside our exciting and innovative contemporary artists.
 
The big public celebration at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art on Sunday 1 May was the culmination of many, many initiatives: academic and professional productions of Molière's comedies and new works inspired by Molière; special lectures in classrooms of all grade levels; teacher resources on our website; our mascothead MoMo who gallantly flirted and kissed hands at many events; our coloring book Molière and France Under the Sun King (still available on Amazon, with royalties signed over to KC Melting Pot Theatre); a UMKC Conservatory Mobile Molière unit that toured to schools; readings from Molière by Kansas City celebrities at the 398th and 399th birthday parties; 12 "Five-Minute Molière" YouTube videos; The Molière Cake from André's Confiserie Suisse and Joie de Molière dessert wine from Les Bourgeois Vineyards; presentation of Philp blue owl Hooser's commissioned play Tartuffenthrope! at Kansas City's Missouri Bicentennial celebration; a bimonthly Zoom book club to discuss Molière's plays; publication of The Pests by Broadway Play Publishing; two videos by John Rice & Amanda Davison that were viewed in Versailles, France, as well as widely shown here.
 
One of our three goals was to draw international attention to Kansas City's world-class arts scene, and we certainly accomplished that under the leadership of Cyprienne Simchowitz. Numerous French publications from Le Monde to Le Point to Radio France International reported on events in Kansas City at the time of Molière's 400th birthday, 15 January 2022. Most exciting of all was the residency of Jérôme Pouly, 310th sociétaire of the Comédie-Française, who premiered his one-man play about Molière in Kansas City on 30 April and 1 May, before taking it on a summer tour of France. Pouly enlisted his fellow actors at the Comédie Française to make a video tribute to Kansas City in French with English subtitles. It's a delightfully witty example of cross-cultural affection. The celebration week also featured a Kansas City Public Library lecture by Dr. Virginie Roche-Tiengo of the Sorbonne. We are especially grateful to the Alliance Française de Kansas City under the leadership of Catherine Tissot for making these visits possible.
 
Despite hurdles posed by the pandemic, we made great strides in achieving our second goal: to provide educational outreach and resources in the classics. Our third goal of rallying all the arts was achieved with the notable participation of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Owen/Cox Dance Group, Kansas City Baroque Consortium, and Landlocked Opera, among others.
 
You can meet our hardworking Board of Directors elsewhere in this newsletter, and you will also read also about founding board member Chantal Roberts's forthcoming book that will document our process and product. Finally, I want to pay tribute to two whose beautiful lives and contributions continue to inspire us. Our beloved founder Kip Niven passed away unexpectedly on 6 May 2019, only three months before we were granted nonprofit status. With his indefatigable upbeat warmth, he was Molière's great champion and the visionary of what we might do for Kansas City. Our first vice president, Sarah Ingram Eiser, already the champion of a great variety of important causes in Kansas City, committed wholly to our efforts and led several of our projects before her untimely passing on 24 June 2021. We dearly miss Kip and Sarah. Frater, Soror, ave atque vale.
 
My deepest heartfelt thanks to all of you who read our newsletters, donated toward our good works, and attended our events.
We asked our Board of Directors to reflect back on the three years they devoted to KC Molière: 400 in 2022 and to mention their favorite projects.
Felicia Londré, President

For sheer pleasure without stress, I loved watching MoMo interact with crowds, relished consuming a Molière cake from André's every week, enjoyed attending KCAT's The Pests five times, and delighted in the singing of "Bon anniversaire, Molière" by those precious K through third-graders from Académie Lafayette around the huge tiered birthday cake for 400. I loved the way Tartuffenthrope! brought together so much of what we were about. The best thing about serving on the board was working with our amazing and brilliant board members: Don Dagenais, Sarah Ingram-Eiser, Jennifer Martin, Rebecca Smith, Jim Weitzel, Dorothée Werner, Patricia Hamarstrom Williams, and also working with Chantal Roberts on our 17 information-packed and aesthetically pleasing newsletters.
Don Dagenais, Vice President

As a fan of classical theater I was very excited, back in 2018, to learn of the plans for KC MOliere: 400 in 2022 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Moliere's birth.  Although I had seen a few Molière productions over the years, I felt that my exposure to his work was definitely on the low side, as productions of his comedies are, frankly, not that frequent.  I was hoping that the Molière Festival would result in many more productions of Molière works and would include a significant educational component to fill in a gap in my knowledge.  I'm delighted that the Molière Festival vastly exceeded my expectations.  I was thrilled to attend every production and education program and enjoyed seeing a presentation of a play about Molière (rather than by him) and an opera based on Tartuffe.  These were unexpected bonuses.  Felicia Londré's educational programs were marvelous.  The Festival more than exceeded every reasonable hope, and for that I am very glad.
Jim Weitzel, Treasurer

It was a pleasure to serve as treasurer for KC MOlière: 400 in 2022, especially in doling out contributions to the many worthy Kansas City area performance organizations that contributed their talents to our celebration year.
Becky Smith, Secretary
An event that sparked, for me, was the very first (398th) birthday party. The whole endeavor at that time was entirely unknown and almost out-of-the-bleu and yet everyone involved rose enthusiastically to embrace it.  Local celebrities in various fields took to their Molière roles with élan, Calvin Arsenia serenaded us with a baroque harp and we all toasted and celebrated. I think we all took great coeur and we were keen to go forward.

Molière could well have used a talented, well-intentioned board of directors throughout his often rocky career. He got one 400 years later.
Jennifer Martin, Board Member at Large

I am delighted to be part of KC MOlière: 400 in 2022. As co-chair of the Higher Education Committee, it was exciting to see that colleges and universities from Columbia MO to Manhattan KS mounted Moliere productions. All this in spite of the challenges COVID posed to live performance!
Patricia Hamarstrom Williams, Board Member at Large

We were asked to choose three of the most memorable KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 moments. What a dilemma!  I will take succor from the great man himself.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ~ Molière.

There's always a joy for me in projects that embrace COMMUNITY and open the walls of theatre and knowledge to the wider world. KC MOlière boasted three events that were stellar in that regard.

The finely wrought play by Philip blue owl Hooser, Tartuffenthrope, wove together our history and our native culture with our aspirations. Set on an ancient path in nature's beauty at the Chouteau Greenway Parkway and at the statue feet of Kansas City founders Francois Chouteau and native Americans, we watched regional leaders and citizens embrace world traditions and theatre.

We would again witness the glory of affirming the world cultural community at the KC Molière 400th  birthday celebration at the Nelson-Atkins Museum. Led by local school children in song, the community embraced the international roots of theatrical art in a hallowed old hall with Medieval knights rising in the background distance and global leaders on the dais.

My third and last “most memorable” will not be a moment but the enduring honor of watching my old professor and mentor, Felicia Hardison Londré, shape and execute an impactful world event around her passion. For someone who had the good fortune to be student recipient of her knowledge and love of theatre, it brought resonating delight at her triumph.

“There is no reward so delightful, no pleasure so exquisite, as having one’s work known and acclaimed by those whose applause confers honor.” ~ Molière
Dorothée Werner, Board Member at Large

I can not express the joy of seeing Molière and Kansas City come together! As a French girl I was bathed in Molière, reciting and acting his plays in countless French classes. When I moved to Kansas City in 1980 I left him behind, along with most of what I knew. 

Thank you, Felicia, for asking me on the board, it has been an honor to work with you and the esteemed members of the board. Thank you for bringing Molière back to my life. 

My favorite three moments were the 399th party, the 400th and the Kansas City Baroque Consortium concert. Playing Dorine, the pure joy in the Académie Lafayette students’ eyes at the Nelson, and being transported to Versailles and its music. 

Thank you for this enormous gift to me and to the people of Kansas City! 
Chantal Roberts, Newsletter Editor and Founding Secretary

I've had the great pleasure to be involved in this festival from almost the beginning. It was Becky Smith's article in KC Studio that first brought me to the organization. I'm also humbled to be the commissioned author of the festival's narrative, historical recounting which will be released in time for Molière's 401st birthday. 

I don't know if I can pick a favorite part-- you'll have to get the book (currently in the editing process) which will be available at local bookstores and Amazon to find out. 

 
Landlocked Opera Takes Tartuffe to Church

by Rebecca Smith
 
In the fullest sense, Tartuffe got what he deserved June 10 and 12.

First off - in Landlocked Opera’s production, Tartuffe the character was unveiled in his infamy in the ending Molière himself planned - not the one he felt compelled to include to appease the Royal court. In this version, Orgon’s own family members concoct Tartuffe’s downfall and save themselves; the happy ending is of their own making and not due to the King.

Secondly, Landlocked Opera offered a winning, masterful interpretation, thus giving staged Tartuffe the promotion and attention it deserves. To a population underserved to now. 

Thirdly, the production was in a church, which added a meaningful element to the tale of the self-professed religious (but in actuality completely licentious) leader. Molière’s play was targeted when he introduced it in 1664; the Church ruled powerfully in society and wanted it suppressed. Experiencing it in a church is thus doubly entertaining. In this case, the Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park offered Comeuppance, not solace, to the title character. Furthermore, a church is a home of music, along with message, so it was entirely appropriate for a Molière production, as the playwright is credited with adding music and dance to  theatrical events. 

Finally, a Kansas success for the opera is more than fitting, as its composer/librettist, Kirke Mechem, hails from Topeka - he’s a local legend who wrote the only operatic version of this, one of Molière’s most famous works.

Tartuffe played on Friday night and Sunday afternoon - each time to a sizable audience thrilled with what was presented on the stage. It was a simple, very modern set with contemporary costumes, as well.  But the talent level of the voices was extraordinary and was enhanced by the performers’ fine comedic timing and gestures. Linda Ade Brand, Director, and Raffaele Cipriano, Conductor, created a truly memorable experience and a remarkable finale to Kansas City’s Year of Molière.

Linda actually was working behind the scenes on a production of Tartuffe at Bethany College in 1980 when Mechem’s opera debuted. She remembers smirking at the gullibility within the play, thinking it unrealistic for our (enlightened) times. Could such charlatanism still rear its ugly head? We all know the answer to that - Molière was a sage not just of his own time. Tartuffe himself refers to “the modern way of overcoming scruples”. We see it all around us. Orgon, himself a dupe until the end, warns us “beware of human weakness”.

Before each show there was a presentation by scholar Anna Wheeler Gentry, the renowned lecturer/researcher/concert soloist. With her expert instruction and historical education into Mechem and Tartuffe, her listeners were well prepped to fully ingest Molière’s message.

Perfectly highlighting Molière’s 400th, we learned that Tartuffe A Comic Opera has been performed by 400 opera companies in 6 countries and is one of the most performed operas by an American composer. 

“Give the devil his due” is a line from the play; Landlocked Opera has done just that. Tartuffe warrants the dedication and exposure it’s received here. After all, as the con artist himself advises us, “a secret sin is no sin at all”.

 
Click the photo to watch the Comédie Française video with Jérôme Pouly before his visit to Kansas City. 

The video is in French with English subtitles.
See the 3-minute promotional video about the festival. 
Watch the Molière celebration video by John Rice and Amanda Davison.
Watch the B-Roll of Molière's The Pests, translated by Felicia Londré and staged by the Kansas City Actors Theatre.
Our Esteemed Donors
$10,000 and above
Theater League 
Elizabeth Noble 
White-Simchowitz Family Charitable Fund
Sieglinde Othmer

 
$2,000-$9,999
Don & Pat Dagenais
Sarah Ingram-Eiser
Venne & Felicia Londré
Ewing Marion Kauffman Family Foundation
Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation
Shirley & Barnett Helzberg Jr. Donor Advisory Fund
Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts -- Commerce Bank, Trustee
Northlands Neighborhoods, Inc.
John Rensenhouse
Rebecca Smith
Jim & Sarah Weitzel

Up to $2,000
Emily K. Ballentine
Richard O. Ballentine
Karin Bauer
Willow Baum
Michael W. Beahm      
Andrew Brown
Dan & Ginnie Bukovac
Carol Burton
Stuart Carden
Alice Cherry
Donna Childs
Beth Ciperson
Copaken Family Fund
Amanda Davison
Bill & Margaret Eckhardt
Erik & Bev Elving
James S. Falls
James Fisher
Andrew Fogel
Francis Family Foundation
Peggy Friesen
Phillippa Gard
Consulat Général de France
Cynthia Gibson
Laurie J. Hamilton
Chris Hands
Dennis Hennessy
The Hinds-Leitch Family Trust
Fred & Trudie Homan
Joan J. Horan
Yvonne Jameson
Brad Johnson
Kay Johnson
Topper & Linda Johntz
Brian & Patience Jones
Newton Jones
Kansas City Actors Theatre
R. Crosby Kemper III
Maureen Kennedy
Erik Kobet
Annette Kussmaul
Bryan & Christopher LeBeau
Gayle Levy
Christopher Leitch
Suzanne Loui
Tom Mardikes
Jennifer Martin
Melinda McCrary
Mark Sappington & Dave McGee
Lindsy Meyers
Patricia Cleary Miller
Michael Minor
Marti Moore
Catherine Morris
Rebekah P.Mosby
John Mueter
Network for Good
Michael & Mary Etta O'Neill
Christian Overgaard
Jennifer Owen
Cheryl Diane Patrick
Pat & Kay Patterson
Kay Lutjen Patterson
Steve Paul
Margo Quinconi
Aaron & Chantal Roberts
Ronald L. Schaeffer
Shirley Spiegel
Stanley Stern
John Stokes
Theodore Swetz
Paul Temme
Whitney Terrell
Tracy Terstriep
Catherine Tissot
John & Cory Unrein
Calan Welder
Dorothée Werner
Robert Watson
Patricia Woods
Tess Zebrowski
Judith Zivanovic
Julián & Natalie Zugazagoitia
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Newsletter Editor: Chantal M. Roberts
Copyright © 2022 KC MOliere: 400 in 2022, All rights reserved.


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