Tartuffe: Interpretations

The Play

Tartuffe by Moliere (French)

Le Tartuffe

Translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur (1963)


RSC Production

Royal Shakespeare Company (1983). Nigel Hawthorne (Orgon), Alison Steadman (Elmire), Antony Sher (Tartuffe). Prose Translation by Christopher Hampton.

Recent French-Language Stage Productions

Montage issu de la pièce de théâtre “Tartuffe 2012” par le LucaThéâtre. Mise en scène Laurent Vercelletto. Centre Culturel Charlie Chaplin, Vaulx-en-Velin.

Le Tartuffe Mise en scène de Michel FAU

Extraits d’une représentation de Tartuffe par la compagnie Astrov.
Mise en scène Jean de Pange. Enregistré le 15 octobre 2014 à Scène Vosges / Epinal.

Une production du Théâtre du Nouveau Monde en collaboration avec UBU compagnie de création. Alors que le Québec traditionnel s’effondre et que la religion catholique, dans la foulée du concile Vatican II, abandonne l’orgue pour la guitare, les jeunes ne sont pas dupes des nouveaux habits de l’Église, alors que les parents ne savent plus à quel saint se vouer.


Tartuffe ou l’hypocrite, version en trois actes 1664, reconstruite par Georges Forestier et Isabelle Grelet. Production compagnie Le Fanal 2015-2016/ Mise en scène Pierre Desmaret.

Vidéo réalisée lors des répétitions du Tartuffe – compagnie banquet d’avril – septembre 2011

French Film Version

L’adaptation à l’écran de la pièce de Molière, dirigée et interpretée par Gérard Depardieu, un Tartuffe ensorceleur, malin et pervers. 1984.

Recent British Staging

Birmingham, England. Modern-setting with Pakistani family and cultural references.


Designing Angels

Handout: Historical Context and Plot Summary

Angels in America Summary

Angels Scenes

Excerpts from the 1993 Broadway Original Production

Film Version Does NOT Equal Stage Version

Review the cast of characters and scene layout and read the opening scene.

Then watch opening of the HBO film version starting at 02:15.

Then compare that the recent London/Broadway production starring Andrew Garfield.

Act III Opening (Ghosts)

Act III Split Scene (Park and Hospital)

Act III Closing (Angel’s Arrival)

How does your production design concept “solve” the following?

  • numerous locations: real and imaginary
  • double casting: costuming and makeup
  • split scenes: real and imaginary (dreams, hallucinations)
  • ghosts: historical and imaginary
  • Kaposi Sarcoma and wasting: Prior and Roy
  • a burning book that rises from the floor
  • an angel crashing through the roof
  • (nudity and smoking onstage)


Hamlet: Interpretation

Plot Summary

HAMLET PLOT   (Source)

Five Hamlets, Five Interpretations

The Ghost

  • Mel Gibson (00:27:00)
  • Kenneth Branagh (00:39:30)
  • Ethan Hawke (00:20:00)
  • David Tennant (00:29:30)
  • RSC (00:30:00)

The Mousetrap

  • Mel Gibson (01:08:00)
  • Kenneth Branagh (01:50:00)
  • Ethan Hawke (00:53:40)
  • David Tennant (01:32:00)
  • RSC (01:29:30)

Ophelia’s Mad Scene

  • Mel Gibson (01:34:30)
  • Kenneth Branagh (02:40:40)
  • Ethan Hawke (01:20:30)
  • David Tennant (02:22:15)
  • RSC (02:15:00)


  • Mel Gibson (01:44:30)
  • Kenneth Branagh (03:07:35)
  • Ethan Hawke (01:29:00)
  • David Tennant (02:34:35)
  • RSC (02:25:00)

The Duel

  • Mel Gibson (01:59:40)
  • Kenneth Branagh (03:41:00)
  • Ethan Hawke (01:37:00)
  • David Tennant (02:52:00)
  • RSC (02:45:00)




Note: Please refer to the class on “Verse” for the first bullets here as well as the videos posted on my Theatre History Online website.

  • prose vs. verse
  • iambic pentameter vs. other forms
  • manuscript vs. promptbook vs. print copy (see pics below)
  • versions vs. editions
  • quarto vs. folio
  • good quarto vs. bad quarto
  • conflation
  • variorum vs. concordance
  • original vs. facsimile
  • transcription vs. translation vs. transliteration (see Hebrew example below)
  • original pronunciation (OP) vs. modern
  • spoken decor
  • Ur-Hamlet(s)
  • authorship question and Anti-Stratfordians

Hamlet and Resources

Internet Shakespeare Editions

New Variorum of Hamlet

Open Source Shakespeare


Play Selection

Past Seasons

Season Chart

Current Format

Three faculty-directed, fully mounted, full-length shows each semester:

  • Musical (Mainstage)
  • Non-Musical (Mainstage)
  • Non-Musical (Showcase)
  • plus Directors’ Debut (1-3 Students)

Key Considerations

  • Casting: total number of roles, male vs. female
  • Writers: the “canon,” diversity, recent, interface with curriculum
  • Costumes: period vs. contemporary, build vs. stock (pull/alter) vs. purchase, total number of costumes, staffing/hours
  • KCACTF: one fall show entered as “participating”; all others as “associate”
  • Calendar: academic calendar, move in/out dates, build vs. stock, staffing/hours
  • Legal: availability, cost, restrictions
  • Director-driven vs. program-driven
  • Other: cost vs. revenue (although we are not “box-office driven”), impact on and reaction from local community

Casting: Non-Traditional vs. Color-Blind

Non-traditional casting” is defined by Actors Equity as “the casting of ethnic, minority and female actors in roles where race, ethnicity or sex is not germane to character or play development.”. The symposium focused on ethnicity, and raised implications beyond the theater into all of the entertainment industry. [SOURCE]

Equity’s Policy

Texas UIL OAP Handbook

  • The League strongly supports ‘blind-casting’ as an educational tool.
  • Each cast member may play multiple roles.
  • A male may play a female role and a female may play a male role as long as they play the part as the gender that is intended.

Plays for Puppets

This is a “watch at home” class to cover for a day when I have to miss. Rationale: All of the plays we read in Text Analysis are written for human characters; however, there are many works being written and created for puppets, both 2D and 3D. Enjoy!

Manual Cinema

I saw Manual Cinema’s ADA/AVA at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and was gobsmacked.

The Genius Puppetry behind War Horse

I’ve seen over a thousand productions and can say with certainty that War Horse is in my top ten theatre experiences.

Thinking Puppets

I’ve included this just because I’m fascinated with the techniques used to “humanize” puppets.

Designing the Text

Wedekind’s Spring Awakening


  1. Which design appeals to you most? Why? Which one doesn’t appeal? Why?
  2. Does any particular design have noticeably high (or low) “production values”?
  3. Which design might answer best the staging “problems” presented by the text?

Design Elements

Text Analysis for the Stage Designer   SOURCE

Example of a Design Concept Statement

August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson is a play about legacies and ghosts of the past. It is about family, land, and finding out what matters most in life. The conflict of the play is over the fate of the piano in Berniece’s living room – a family heirloom. The play cannot end until Berniece and her brother, Boy Willie, unite to exorcise their family’s slavehood past. The play cannot end until Berniece plays the piano, and Boy Willie no longer wants to sell it – both characters thereby embracing their family’s legacy to them.

The design of the play must address the geography and socioeconomic givens of the play’s setting. It takes place in Berniece’s home, in a northern city, during the Depression. The piano is as much a character in the play as any person in it; and Berneice’s home must have a staircase – both to show her home is not a hovel, and to accommodate the play’s climax: the visitation by Sutter’s ghost.

While working-class, the characters must also convey a range of differences within the African-American community. There must be clear distinctions in type of character: “city” characters and “country” characters from Mississippi ; serious and comic characters; moral and amoral; employed and unemployed – without falling into two-dimensional stereotypes.

The play feels eerie, tempestuous, and full of sharp contrasts; it feels like a haunted merry-go-‘round. The visual solution should therefore be crunchy, pieced-apart, and full of movement; it should appear mysterious and ordinary, comfortable and incomplete.


  1. Does this concept statement provide enough information for the director and production team?
  2. Is there anything overlooked that needs to go in this statement?
  3. Is there anything that has less relevance or value that could be edited out?

Translations & Adaptations

“10 Funny Translations from English to Spanish” (Article)

Note: Turn on Closed Captions but with English subtitles.

Challenges: Babelfish

Try translating this into another language, perhaps Spanish:

My a capella releases classic masterpieces through telekinesis
It eases you mentally, gently, sentimentally, instrumentally
With entity, dementedly meant to be Infinite

Article: “10 Spanish Words That Have No English Translation

Key Terms

transcription, transliteration, translation, adaptation

Aristophanes’ Lysistrata

Amazon Search: Lysistrata
Library of Congress Catalog

Open Library

πολύ γε νὴ τὼ θεώ.
εἰ γὰρ καθοίμεθ᾽ ἔνδον ἐντετριμμέναι,
150κἀν τοῖς χιτωνίοισι τοῖς Ἀμοργίνοις
γυμναὶ παρίοιμεν δέλτα παρατετιλμέναι,
στύοιντο δ᾽ ἅνδρες κἀπιθυμοῖεν σπλεκοῦν,
ἡμεῖς δὲ μὴ προσίοιμεν ἀλλ᾽ ἀπεχοίμεθα,
σπονδὰς ποιήσαιντ᾽ ἂν ταχέως, εὖ οἶδ᾽ ὅτι.

Wedekind’s Spring Awakening

Library of Congress: Online Catalogue
LOC Search: Spring Awakening Wedekind
LOC Search: Frühlings Erwachen Wedekind

Different Translations

Erdmann’s The Suicide

Dying for It at SHSU

Gogol’s Government Inspector

Seltzer’s English Translation

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Hamlet: Folger Shakespeare Library 
: Internet Shakespeare Editions
Hamlet: New Variorum
McTier’s Adaptations
Hamlet Nunnery Variations
Hamlet McTier Abridgement Nunnery


POV: The Narrative Voice

The Narrator

From The Elements of Playwriting: “Never consider writing ‘narrator’ in a script. Too often the narrator is simply an all-too-easy way for the playwright to communicate information to the audience, resulting in a play that tells rather than shows.”
Question: Do you agree?

Consider Aristotle’s Poetics, which differentiates epic from dramatic poetry.

“The 7 Narrator Types”: Article

Example: Chad Deity

Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
Question: Is this play helped or hindered by having a narrator?

Excerpts from the play: Chad Deity Opening and Chad Deity Epilogue

Video Clips: Aurora Theatre’s Trailer and Curious Theatre and Interview with the Playwright

Other Examples

Into the Woods (Opening Scene)

The Glass Menagerie (Opening Scene)

Our Town (Opening Scene)

Urinetown (Opening Scene)

Interview with A Vampire (Opening Scene)

Types of Scripts


Stage Play or Screenplay? Play vs Screenplay

In our exploration of different script formats, we’ll begin by considering how screenplays differ from play scripts using Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County.

August: Osage County is set on the plains of modern day, middle-class Oklahoma. The Weston family members are all intelligent, sensitive creatures who have the uncanny ability of making each other absolutely miserable. When the patriarch of the household mysteriously vanishes, the Weston clan gathers together to simultaneously support and attack one another. SOURCE

Screenplay of August: Osage County (p. 71 for the scene we will watch)

Final Draft Article: “Screenplay, Teleplay, Stage Play–What’s The Difference?

Format Examples from Final Draft

Film on Dave’s Amazon account (1:12:20 remaining).

Kansas City Rep’s Production



PIPPIN Libretto

Devised Theatre

What Is Devising?

Devising is loosely defined as the process of collaboratively creating a new work without a pre-existing script wherein the collaborators are also the performers.  I say loosely because every devising company creates their own method of working based on the subject of investigation and the strengths of the collaborators.  Not every company member must perform for it to be a devised piece, but the majority often does.  In short, the collaborative creators are also the performers. SOURCE

Rude Mechanicals (Austin, Texas)

Dave’s Devised Projects (Kansas City, Missouri)

KCACTF Devised Project

Complicite on Devising

Devised Theatre as Actor Training

Off Balance: Robin Hood 1

The Critic

What is the role of the critic?

Key Considerations

  • audience and purpose
  • play as script vs. play as production
  • objective/descriptive vs. subjective/evaluative
  • production: acting plus anything else?
  • goal: balanced, comprehensive, accurate, fair, thoughtful

Review of Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at The Alley Theatre

Goethe’s Three Critical Questions

  1. What was the artist trying to do?
  2. Was he/she successful in doing it?
  3. Was it worth doing?

Always Consider…

  • Popular/Commercial Success vs. Critical Success
    Example: Wicked
  • Journalistic vs. Academic Criticism
  • Moral vs. Artistic Criticism
  • Personal Taste and Values


DidHeLikeIt: Ben Brantley and The New York Times

SHSU: Previews, Reviews, Features


Production dramaturgy connects knowledge with creativity with the goal of making informed production choices. The dramaturg supplements the research already being done by the director and designers and provides a “critical eye” throughout the process. – David McTier

Gotthold Lessing and Hamburgische Dramaturgie

Gotthold Lessing

Gotthold Lessing

(1729-1781) German writer, playwright, and critic. Redefined Aristotle’s Poetics to defend Shakespeare against his French Neoclassical critics. Wrote numerous plays now associated with Romanticism and the Stürm und Drang movement. A collection of his writings and reviews were collected and published as a series as Die Hamburgische Dramaturgie (1767-1769).

Thus Saith Wikipedia

Dramaturgy is a comprehensive exploration of the context in which the play resides. The dramaturg is the resident expert on the physical, social, political, and economic milieus in which the action takes place, the psychological underpinnings of the characters, the various metaphorical expressions in the play of thematic concerns; as well as on the technical consideration of the play as a piece of writing: structure, rhythm, flow, even individual word choices.

Institutional dramaturgs may participate in many phases of play production including casting of the play, offering inhouse criticism of productions-in-progress, and informing the director, the cast and the audience about a play’s history and its current importance. In America, this type of dramaturgy is sometimes known as Production Dramaturgy. Institutional or Production dramaturgs may make files of materials about a play’s history or social context, prepare program notes, lead post-production discussions, or write study guides for schools and groups. These actions can assist a director in integrating textual and acting criticism, performance theory, and historical research into a production before it opens. [source]

What is Dramaturgy?


Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas

Production Dramaturgy Blogs


Dramaturgy Class

Examples of past classes:

  • 2016 Summer Dramaturgy Class (Blog)
  • 2014 Summer Dramaturgy Class (Blog)

Language: Verse

Glossary of Poetic Terms

Rhythm and Meter in English Poetry

Rhythm: Iambic, Trochaic, (Spondaic), Anapestic, Dactylic

Meter: Trimeter, Tetrameter, Pentameter, Hexameter

Today we will consider the role played by verse in several representative plays:

HANDOUT: Verse Handout

  • Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • Moliere’s Tartuffe
  • T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral
  • Goethe’s Faust
  • Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology
Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Nunnery Scene
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
       For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


Twisted Insane: “I Hustle”

Critical Perspectives

“Whether the critic is good or bad doesn’t depend on his opinions, but on the reasons he can offer for those opinions.” (Harold Clurman, Director/Critic)

Key Terms

objective, descriptive, factual, “clean notice”
subjective, evaluative, impressions, interpretation

intrinsic (internal) vs. extrinsic (external) criticism

Object Exercise

Dave’s qeleshe and scarf

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Sample Critical Perspectives (Types of Criticism)

  1. New Criticism
  2. Reader Response
  3. Psychological
  4. New Historicism
  5. Feminist
  6. Marxist
  7. Post-Colonial
  8. Archetypal/Genre
  9. Moral
  10. Structuralist
  11. Post-Structuralist/Deconstructive
  12. African-American
  13. LGBT/Queer
  14. Postmodern
  15. Ecocriticism

Goethe’s Three Critical Questions

  1. What was the artist trying to do?
  2. Was he/she successful in doing it?
  3. Was it worth doing?

Always Consider…

  • Popular/Commercial Success vs. Critical Success
    Example: Wicked
  • Journalistic vs. Academic Criticism
  • Moral vs. Artistic Criticism
  • Personal Taste and Values

Critical Response Exercise

Samuel Beckett’s Breath

Reader Response

External Factors & Reader-Response Criticism

premise: your interpretation and analysis of a script depends greatly on who you are as well as your personal values and includes factors such as age, gender, race, ethnicity, orientation, religion, etc.

  • to analyze a script, you must employ extrinsic criticism (factors that exist beyond the script itself)
  • the reader is the text: a script doesn’t mean anything until someone reads it and gives it meaning

related ideas

  • all meaning is ascribed (created, assigned)
  • perception is reality

words and meaning

  • denote/denotation: actual, understood meaning
  • connote/connotation: implied, associated, or figurative meaning

the text cannot be separated from what it does:

  • the role of the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature
  • readers do not passively consume meaning from an objective text; they construct their own meaning

primary components:

  1. your response
  2. your analysis of your response
  3. your analysis of others’ responses

University of Alabama: Controversial Sorority Video

Formats & Formulas

Eugene Scribe and The Well Made Play (c. 1825)

Gustav Freytag and his Pyramid (1863)

Brockett’s “Analyzing Scripts”: Brockett Play Analysis


  • plot vs. story
  • unities of time, place, and action
  • dramatic question
  • point of attack
  • inciting incident
  • given circumstances
  • exposition
  • complication
  • climax
  • denouement
  • act, scene, French scenes
  • deus ex machina


Application: How can we map out/diagram/illustrate the structure in either of these short films?

Call Back from SIDE FILMS on Vimeo.

Exposition: Let’s read the opening page of Susan Glaspell’s Trifles to dig out the exposition.



Library Tour

Today, we will visit the Newton Gresham Library.

Dewey Decimal vs. Library of Congress

call number

periodical, bound periodical

stacks: open vs. closed



key letters: M, N, P

microforms: microfilm, microfiche

Library_Tour (Handout)


From Online to Hard Copy

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.28.03 PMWe will finish the “Scripts and Licensing” section of our “Online Resources” class and then move to exploring the online and hard copy resources of our own library, the Newton Gresham Library.

Scripts and Licensing

Samuel French


Music Theatre International

Tams Witmark

Rodgers and Hammerstein

Indie Theater Now


Dewey Decimal

Dewey Decimal


SHSU Library (NGL)

Theatre Databases

Library Classification Systems

Dewey Decimal

Library of Congress

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)

Plays in Anthologies: Inter-Play

Online Resources


Internet Broadway Database





Regional Theatre

Theatre Communications Group (go to “Tools” and then “Theatre Profiles”)

LORT (League of Resident Theatres)

College/University Theatre

KCACTF (National)

Region 6 (includes Texas)

University/Resident Theatre Association

Alpha Psi Omega

Scripts and Licensing

Samuel French


Music Theatre International

Tams Witmark

Rodgers and Hammerstein


Public Domain

Project Gutenberg

Internet Classics Archive

Internet Archive

Internet Shakespeare

Unions and Professional Organizations

Actors Equity

USITT (Design and Technology)

IATSE (Technicians)

Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Literary Managers and Dramaturgs


Broadway HD

Digital Theatre Plus

Globe Player


SHSU Library (NGL)

Theatre Databases