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KC MOlière: 400 in 2022

WINTER NEWSLETTER 2019
"A Molière-Goes-Modern Mashup"
     by Becky Smith
Across the KC area, Molière plays, Molière-adapted plays, Molière-inspired plays are being considered and formulated. It’s a grand Molière-goes-modern mashup”*.
 
We can look to some provocative recent examples.
 
San Diego Rep just premiered an updated version of Molière’s School for Wives set in the early 1990s among the Mexican drug cartels. In Bad Hombres/Good Wives the women take full control in an energetic, colorful, sousaphone-blasting production.

 Brooklyn this last summer debuted “Molière in the Park” with two free readings of The Misanthrope. But in a newly feminist version, the focus was on Célimène and not on Alceste, making clear “the ability to be vocal and criticize, the way that Alceste does in the play, is very attached to your level of privilege and power”, in the words of the Artistic Director.** (A full Molière production is planned for future years.)
 
Tartuffe played several cities in China summer of 2019 with a treatment of the play by Lithuanian Oskaras Korsunovas, in which all Orgon’s family, not just the foolish patriarch himself, are deluded, hypocritical and at fault. The expected vindication at the end never comes. The entire clan falls, with Tartuffe giving a Nazi-type salute at the end, bathed in red light.***
 
In London this year John Donnelly adapted Tartuffe to emphasize bourgeois guilt resulting from shameful wealth and financial greed. Michael Billington of The Guardian perceived it to have a very current message -  “today to suggest that a reckoning will ultimately be paid for society’s grotesque inequalities and, even if the backstory is sketchy, the message comes across loud and clear.”****
 
A year earlier, Donnelly had set Tartuffe in a Birmingham suburb with a fake imam conman influencing an affluent Pakistani resident, a version attacking “both religious exploitation and secularised sophistication without condescension”. In one scene, Tartuffe is asked “how the most tolerant and academically inquisitive religion in the world ended up being hijacked by people like you?” It’s the immigrant Bosnian woman cleaner who recognizes the trickery and the gullibility of the Pakistani. She contests misinterpretations of the Quran and even compares the budding bromance to that of George Clooney and Brad Pitt. We are reminded “that wealth offers no protection against a hostile environment and that all of the world’s religions are subject to slippery abuse.”****
 
All creations have taken to heart the words of Professor Michele Longino of Duke University, who states that Molière “continues to draw the most enthusiastic audiences around the world even today. It is at once humbling and amusing to note that the antics of human beings have not vastly changed since the 17th century.”
 
 
* sandiegouniontribune.com
** brooklynpaper.com
*** broadwayworld.com
**** The Guardian, Sept. 2018 and Feb 2019

In Recent News

KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 has a new logo.  The Board commissioned Christina Schafer who generously donated her time and talent for the new logo.  With Kansas City in the foreground of the French fleur-de-lis flag, it’s a direct nod to Kansas City’s French past and its link to Molière.  Felicia Londré, Board President, said, “Christina Schafer really came through for us by tying together today’s Kansas City and a lovely evocation of 17th-century France.”
 
Tell us what you think of the new logo with the hashtag #KCMOlierenewlogo!
 
Cory Unrein has joined KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 as Administrative Assistant. Cory has twenty years experience providing administrative, fund development, marketing, and management services to a variety of nonprofit organizations. A graduate of Park University, Cory lives in Grain Valley, Missouri, with her husband and two daughters. 

KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 is also working with the Chouteau Fountain Founders, co-chaired by Keith Nelson, on joint activities to tie Molière’s 400th birthday (15 January 2022) celebrations to the summer 2021 bicentennial of the founding of Kansas City by François Chouteau in co-operation with the Osage and Kansa people and the inauguration of the François Chouteau & Native American Heritage Fountain on Chouteau Trafficway. Chantal Roberts  and Felicia Londré attended the dedication of the ground on 15 November.

Pictured: (at the podium) Keith Nelson. Seated behind are (second row) Kwan Wu, the sculptor of the sculpture group that will include François Chouteau and Osage and Kansa natives, and (front row) Vann Bighorse, who gave the blessing of the ground in the Osage language.

 
Felicia Londré pictured with local student portraying François Chouteau. 

 

Committee Updates

Press and Publications:
 
The Press & Publications Committee member Pat Hamarstrom Williams began the festival’s Twitter (@KCMOliere), Instagram (kcmoliere), and YouTube channels as well as the KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 festival Facebook page.  Pat was instrumental in connecting the Board with Christina Schafer, the designer of the new KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 logo.
 
Catherine Thompson is instrumental in keeping the news portion of the website current with vibrant stories linking Kansas City to its French heritage.  Catherine is the Blogger in Chief and is the writer behind many of the blogs on the website.
 
The KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 Board gave a vote of confidence to the committee in their last meeting stating there was no need for a separate marketing committee at this time; so, if you like marketing, contact Cory at info@kcmoliere400in2022.com for more information.
 

Fundraising Committee:
 
Over the past two months, Don Dagenais and Beverly Elving, co-chairs for the Fundraising Committee, have been hard at work with their committee to ramp up donations now that
KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 is a 501(c)3 organization.  If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please click here. Things are proceeding apace for the committee as they continue to reach out to donors to make this the best festival Kansas City has seen.
 

Social Committee:
 
The Social Committee has begun its work with its first volunteer and donor gathering. Georgianna Buchannan and Claire Davis have gathered their volunteers to host a wonderful soirée in January—just in time for Molière’s birthday! -- and to elicit interest in the festival.
 
Please save the date for our first birthday party honoring Molière and our donors.
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
5:15 pm to 7:00 pm
Just Off Broadway Theatre
3150 Wyandotte
Kansas City , MO 64108

Light hors d'oeuvre will be served. Local Kansas City celebrities will read brief passages from Molière for your entertainment. RSVPs required.

More information to follow!

 

Higher Education Committee:

Jennifer Martin and Mechele Leon, co-chairs, met with their volunteers in September at the KU campus in Overland Park. The emphasis for their committee now is coming up with details about the master class, workshops, and lectures the committee would be willing to offer.  They have a deadline of spring 2020 and will be making more concrete plans in the coming months. 

 

International Committee:

Cyprienne Simchowitz shared terrific news with her co-chair, Dorothée Werner, and committee members: Dr. Virginie Roche-Tiengo, who will spend a week in Kansas City next spring, will meet with the KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 board to discuss Molière. But in an even bigger coup, Dr. Roche-Tiengo, spoke with Jerôme Pouly, a “sociétaire de la Comédie Française” (meaning an actor who is a “partner member” of the illustrious theatre company La Comédie Française founded in the 17th century). Mr. Pouly is extremely interested in our project here in Kansas City. He has invited Dr. Roche-Tiengo and Cyprienne to meet with him at the Comédie Française when Cyprienne is in Paris next June to share his ideas for our festival. 

 

Cultural Context Committee:

Sharing the wealth!  There are so many intriguing topics to explore, so the Cultural Context committee has divided into two subcommittees in order to add great new areas - like French cuisine and gardening! Linda Ade Brand and Tracy Terstriep Herber continue overseeing Cultural Context while they co-chair the Music and Dance Committee. Trudie Homan and Beth Byrd-Lonski have graciously consented to co-chair the Visual and Popular Arts Committee that will include areas such as puppetry, pantomine, film, libraries, and book clubs.   

Rachel Priest, with her deep connections to France and Baroque music, has opened up yet another avenue to explore:  French Baroque organ music! This, too, is “in process”.

The committee has also met with Nelson-Atkins Education Director Adam Johnson and Adult Program Director Cat Mueller to discuss potential collaborations with the museum.

 
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