By Rebecca Smith
KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 teams with Kansas City's Sunday Script Circle and KKFI Community Radio to present a reading of Molière's ever-popular comedy The Miser in a brand-new translation. For free admission to this premiere at 7:00pm on Sunday 26 July, go to
When you register for our event on Eventbrite, prior to the reading you will be sent an email with a Zoom link and info on how to view the event.
Who better to captivate an American audience into Molière than writer, translator and “European-American” at heart, Nick Henke? And why are we so excited to premiere his translation of The Miser?
“This translation was very intentionally conceived of in contemporary language, and I hope audiences are able to take joy in the neurotic wordiness of it all.”
He explains, “The Miser's’ concerns are modern ones. In their best moments, the characters search for truth, in their worst, they intentionally twist it with half-baked schemes worthy of 2020 politics. Yes, it's a play about money, but at its heart, it is a story about what reality the mind creates with the raw material it is given.“
In other words, this play is of utmost relevance right now, as we stand “at the dawn of modern capitalism”, in Henke’s view.
Nick grew up in St. Louis but with long periods spent in Italy, the UK and France with his academic parents. He chose to concentrate on French studies at Northwestern, Washington University and the Sorbonne, finishing with a degree in French Literature. He has most recently been teaching in France (cut short by the pandemic), while writing his own short stories and poems.
“Molière's vision of France is so much of what attracted me to the country in the first place. His is a world of backroom dramas, bourgeois neuroses and conspiracies, money troubles, mental troubles, and sexual troubles. His sons and daughters need solutions to their romantic dramas, their fathers just need some liquid capital. This mental chaos and emotional yearning feels like the work of a 17th-century French Woody Allen.” (It’s notable that Molière has often been compared to Charlie Chaplin, as well.)
Molière vs. Shakespeare? You can predict where Henke falls. He rejects arguments that Molière is less expansive. “Yes, he is particular, but what he does, he does so well.”
Henke will be further contemplating and developing these and other issues in his writings as he heads off for an extended stay in La Réunion, a French island off the coast of Madagascar. Clearly, no shores are too far for him - or Molière.
By Chantal Roberts
I hope to improve my French in advance of KC MOlière: 400 in 2022’s Festival. The Board wants to invite the French glitterati, and I’d like to be able to speak with them in their native language (if only to rub elbows with the Rich & Famous). However, I, like most people stuck in the middle, encounter several problems whether they are real or imagined when thinking of my abilities in a foreign language.
I dislike speaking French because I’m embarrassed by my accent, and I become frustrated when I don’t know a word. Let’s unpack the first part: when you speak with someone who is not a native English speaker, you do not mock her accent, do you? So, it stands to reason the person you are speaking with in French thinks your accent is as charming as you find hers. The second piece of advice was offered by Pierre, a French teacher. He suggests you speak aloud to yourself in the language you want to learn. This has two benefits: first, you overcome your embarrassment of speaking, and second, you realize what words you don’t know. You can then look them up, write them down, and practice them.
Another method to help you overcome your shyness for spoken word is to read aloud a French book. Pierre suggests a young adult novel since it would have easier words; however, if you like whodunits, read those!
Podcasts are excellent listening comprehension tools if you’re concerned you will be unable to understand French when it is spoken. Français Avec Pierre is a YouTube channel and Podcast. Pierre has five, free lessons for the intermediate learner (link at the bottom of the blog[i]), but like most YouTubers and podcasters, he drives you to his paid course material. I found the free material a good test to determine where I need to focus my attention. Pierre’s podcasts, which are the same as his YouTube videos, are short.
InnerFrench[ii] is one of my favorite intermediate podcasts. It is about an hour long. Hugo also has a YouTube channel and paid content. Both Pierre and Hugo’s podcasts are entirely in French.
If you prefer to watch your French, Netflix has several current French TV shows, which are beneficial for learning new vocabulary and slang. I’m currently enjoying Call My Agent (Dix Percent) and C’est du Gâteau! (the French version of Nailed It!). If murder-mystery is more your style, you may like La Mante. Watch with French subtitles so you can learn pronunciation and vocabulary. Although I can figure out what is happening based on the action and the subtitles, I find it often beneficial to watch the series with English subtitles at a later date.
I devote an hour a day, four to five times a week, to studying French—which is sometimes a combination of a podcast and a TV show or sometimes a grammar lesson from one of my old university books. I’ve yet to get bored—even when reviewing grammar! Perhaps I’ll pluck up enough courage one day to go to The Kansas City French Connection[iii], a group who works solely on their spoken French.
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