by Chantal Roberts
I will make a bold announcement: Molière is better than Shakespeare-- a belief that is near sacrilege in the English-speaking world. However, I stand by it, and if more people were exposed to Molière's comedic genius, the world would not be shocked by my declaration. This is why I'm so excited about the KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 project as it envisions bringing Molière to a new generation.
I imagine there will be school children who become hooked on Molière through their teachers as I did. The first memory I have of Molière was reading The School For Wives, a terrific comedy first presented to Monsieur, Philippe, Duke of Oléans, in 1662. The scene I recall so vividly is between Arnolphe and his young ward, Agnès, about Horace (Act II, Scene V). In it, Agnès is frightened to tell Arnolphe that she gave Horace one of her ribbons; Arnolphe, thinking the worst, believes Agnès gave something much more precious (at that time) away. I remember thinking it was wickedly, naughtily funny, which likely was Molière's entire point.
My second memory of Molière was a high school language festival. There was a troupe of actors in full period costumes in the middle of Tartuffe, when, all of a sudden, the actors froze mid-sentence. Then, through the magic of the theatre (and a strobe light), the actors went in reverse, both in word and deed to suddenly stop again only to launch into the scene in full Alexandrian French. I was immediately taken in by not only the beauty of French but also of the theatre.
I am hopeful KC MOlière: 400 in 2022, Inc. will be able to do something similar as the Board of Directors and Committee Co-Chairs envision a festival of dance, music, cooking, fashion, education, and, of course, theatre.
The Plays of Molière in French, Volume 3