As part of KC MOlière, the theater department at vila university performed “The Imaginary Cuckold” by the French playwright with (left) Tyler Lindquist and (right) Davin Zamora, directed by Matt Schwader in November . (photo by Brian Paulette)
This year marks the 400th anniversary of French playwright Molière and Kansas City is making every effort for the occasion.
On January 15, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will host a big party – a giant party, free and open to the public. There will be a birthday cake, tutorials on courtly dancing and fan use, and live music, including an aria from the opera “Tartuffe” by Kansas City composer Kirk Mechem. But the holiday is just the crowning achievement of what has been a city-wide, city-wide artistic and educational celebration of Molière, French culture and Missouri history.
Over the past two years, KC MOlière has imbued the city with a healthy dose of 17th century French culture. The project commissioned new works based on Molière’s comedies, inspired seven new translations, organized lectures, visited schools and even published a coloring book. A new pastry shop has been designed by Confiserie Suisse d’André, specially designed to accompany the new Joie de Molière dessert wine from the Les Bourgeois cellar. Messenger Coffee also presented its new Molière 400 blend for the occasion.
Given its vast scope, it is not surprising that this project was planned to span several years. The aim was both to stimulate an appreciation of Molière in a theatrical scene which, while rich, tends to focus largely on English plays to the detriment of foreign classics, as well as to gain national attention and international scene on Kansas City’s vibrant arts scene. .
The time of the playwright’s 400th birthday is particularly fortuitous as it coincides with Missouri’s bicentennial, creating the perfect scene for KC MOlière to celebrate the confluence of French and Indigenous culture that led to the founding of Kansas City as we know it. today. New works commissioned by the project include “Tartufenthrope! (Crossing Cultures with Chouteau and the Osage) ”, written by playwright Choctaw Philip blue owl Hooser. A historical comedy, the play imagines the exchanges between the French pioneers of fur traders and the native Osages who led to the founding of Kansas City.
There are still many events to experience before the big party at Nelson-Atkins and in the months that will follow, including a production of “The Pests” by Molière, with a new adaptation by the president and co-president of KC MOlière. founder Felicia Londré, as well as a contemporary adaptation of “Sganarelle, ou le cocu imaginaire” by Molière by Kansas City artist Nicole Hodges Persley, and a concert with the Ensemble Correspondances, a group of internationally renowned French musicians specializing in
17th century music.
As for the big party, it looks like the desire to bring international attention to Kansas City was a success. Ambassador Philippe Etienne will attend the reception, along with other French dignitaries from Washington DC, the French Cultural Services in New York and the office of the Consulate General of France in Chicago.
The festivities will take place at Kirkwood Hall – an extremely fitting setting, as Londré told me. “How astonishing that the walls of the hall with marble columns are hung with eight immense tapestries woven during Molière’s lifetime!” These tapestries are particularly appropriate for a celebration of the playwright who had a tumultuous relationship with King Louis XIV, known as the “Sun King”.
“If you look at them in numerical order, you get the story of Phaeton’s fall,” explained Londre, “the kid who just wanted to drive his father’s sun chariot but tragically couldn’t control it. vehicle.”
The celebration will take place at the Nelson-Atkins on January 15 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Period costumes are encouraged but not required.