The Design Concept for our Production of Tartuffe is “Neoclassical Avant-garde.” What do those words mean? More importantly, what do they mean together and how effective were our stylistic choices?
In this scholarly review, Taylor University student Patrick Hubbard analyzes the interplay between Tartuffe’s comedic elements and our production designs, concluding with this praise: “The duality of the humor was achieved through both [the design’s] absurdity and the attitude of the production, which was silly, but with definite purpose.”
Below, you will find detailed explanation of the “lens” through which we viewed each element of production, including lights, costumes, sound, makeup, properties and setting.
NEO = new CLASSICAL = imitating the philosophy and Neoclassicism – artistic movement style of Ancient Greece and Rome spanning the 17th-19th centuries, = artistic movement spanning the 17th – 19th centuries, drawing inspiration from Classical art and culture.
France, beginning to recover from years of civil war in the mid 17th century, adopted Neoclassicism as their cultural revival. Artists drew inspiration from the unity and stability of Ancient Greek and Roman art, bringing new approaches and perspectives to those classical conventions. Molière began his career as a playwright at the birth of the movement.
Avant-garde = never before seen.
Characterized in art by unorthodox and experimental methods
Originally a French military term used to denote the “advance guard,” reborn in the 20th century as an artistic term for shocking or innovative forms. The avant-garde is often used to enhance particular characteristics of a norm, details normally overlooked. It is an art form uniquely equipped to challenge status quo and expose flaws in social, cultural or political practices.
Our design and methods enhance the delicate balance of satire and comedy present in the script, while alluding to the production methods that have become characteristically, Tartuffe. In doing so, we offer our audience the nobility and independence provided first by Molière. We will not censor your experience, nor control your interpretation.
Molière was forced to work within harsh legal and cultural restrictions, but managed to twist those very conventions to communicate his message. The result of his effort was his most successful play, recognized today as the highest standard of French Comedy.
We were enthusiastic about taking up the challenge of producing this play, and recognizing the significance of Molière’s context, we strived to achieve a cultural equivalent: presenting a classic in a new way, a way never before seen.