The play will debut at 11 a.m. on the Bluffs Stage during the Bicentennial celebration on July 24.
What are the odds that the 400th birthday of the great comic playwright Molière and the 200th anniversary of the first French settlers at the confluence of the Kaw and Missouri Rivers would coincide so closely?
Molière’s 400th is 15 January 2022. François and Bérénice Chouteau came in fall 1821 to live in harmony with the Native nations. Although the surviving Chouteau family correspondence doesn’t mention Molière, it is just too tempting to assume that they enjoyed his works as much as the farmers farther south and the cowboys farther west enjoyed Shakespeare.
Playwright Philip blue owl Hooser ran with that assumption. He imagines Bérénice, François and his brother Cyprien using their remembered school studies of Molière’s plays to explain French culture to the Osage, but they unwittingly mix together bits from three plays: Tartuffe, The Miser, and The Misanthrope. Philip and director Nathan Bowman both studied the history of the land that became Kansas City in preparation for their work on the play.
Philip Hooser is an accomplished playwright whose work has been widely produced, at Kansas City’s Coterie Theatre and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., among others. Anyone who has attended his ShowTalks at Heart of America Shakespeare Festival over the years knows what a quick wit and delightful sense of humor he has — puns included! His humor comes across in abundance in this play that is subtitled Crossing Cultures with Chouteau and the Osage.
Tartuffenthrope! is presented by KC MOlière: 400 in 2022, a nonprofit organization dedicated to education and the arts in Kansas City as well as international recognition of our world-class arts scene. KC MOlière: 400 in 2022 has recently published a coloring book, Molière and France under the Sun King, available for sale on the grounds. There will also be photo opportunities with MoMo, our Missouri Molière.
Looking ahead to 15 January 2022, the free and open-to-the-public 400th birthday party will be 2:00 to 4:00pm at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.