Preview: Tartuffe

Amir Khalighi, Tartuffe, clutches the leg of Brian Felker, Orgon, during the first dress rehearsal of Tartuffe on Oct. 17, 2016 in the Performing Arts Building at Pierce College in Woodland Hills, Calif. Photo by Taylor Arthur

The 1960’s meets the 1600’s in Pierce’s rendition of “Tartuffe” through the flower power style of clothing and maintaining the emotions and language of the original play.

Pierce College’s version of “Tartuffe” brings a play by legendary playwright Moliere into the 20th century. The production team opted to take the play from its original setting and time.

“We [play director Shaheen Vaaz and costume designer Eileen Gizienski] were talking about how we were going to express the high level of sophistication of that time, the sexuality, and the extravagance of the 1600’s in this play,” Vaaz said. “At the same time, I wanted the actors to move around a lot… so they can to do backflips, dance, stomp, and punch.”

The team decided on the designs, colors, and exotic styles that were prevalent in 1960’s fashion.

“We talked about the idea of there being the romantic, emotional and the comedy part of the play. It was a very flirtatious period,”  Gizienski said. “We came to a mutual idea, we talked about the rock stars of the sixties and the sort of european vibe of fashion during that period, and it progressed from there.”

The comedic play, originally performed in 1664, is about a fraudulent holyman, Tartuffe, who tries to con his gullible host out of everything he possesses, much to the dismay of the rest of the household, who tries to reveal his deceptive ways.

The production team is sure that the original content can still resonate with contemporary audiences despite the multi-century gap in cultures.

“Although the look of the play may have changed, the content stays true to the original script,”  Vaaz said. “The cast has gone through great lengths to make sure the performances are word for word absolutely true.”

The title character will be played by actor Amir Khalighi and leading lady Elmire will be played by fellow actress Leah Foster, who has already been in multiple plays at Pierce, including: “Independence Cabaret” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“We’re not using it to affect how characters behave. We want them to remain true to who they are as a character so that it remains relevant to what’s happening today,” stage manager Sharai Bravo said.

An original score for the play was created alongside rehearsals, in hopes of syncing a musical rhythm to the rhyming scheme of the lines. The musical arrangement was made in collaboration with Vaaz and student musician James Longstreet, who will be performing live during the play.

The play opens Friday, Oct. 21 and continues through Oct. 30 in the Dow Arena Theatre. Tickets are $12 for college students and can be bought at BrownPaperTickets.com.

Brian Caldera

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