by Jean Baptiste Molière English verse by Timothy Mooney
Comedy:
Full Length. 5 acts, with interludes and finale; Estimated Running Time 130 minutes (without intermission).
Cast:
13 Male, 4 Female Assorted Extras, 17+ Total (see details
).
Setting
: Single Interior Setting.

World Premiere Production Available


Cast, Set Details

CAST:
13 Male, 4 Female,* Assorted Extras, 17+ Total
* Male/Female breakdown assumes a traditional casting approach with “tradesmen” such as the Dancing Master and Master Tailor or even the “Lackeys” being played by male performers while, other than tradition, there is little necessitating this breakdown.

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
MONSIEUR JOURDAIN, the bourgeois gentleman
MADAME JOURDAIN, his wife
LUCILE, their daughter
NICOLE, a maidservant
CLEONTE, in love with Lucile (Later, THE MUFTI)
COVIELLE, Cleonte’s valet
DORANTE, a count, in love with Dorimene
DORIMENE, a marquise
MUSIC MASTER
MUSIC MASTER’S PUPIL
DANCING MASTER
FENCING MASTER
PHILOSOPHY MASTER
MASTER TAILOR
JOURNEYMAN TAILOR
TWO LACKEYS
SINGERS, MUSICIANS, DANCERS, COOKS, TAILOR’S APPRENTICES, CHARACTERS IN THE BALLETS

One supposes that clever staging can use the same body of extras to perform each of the groups, necessitating, for instance, a timely exit of the MUSICIANS of Act One, to change and reenter immediately as the DANCERS.

SCENE:
Single Interior Setting: Monsieur Jourdain’s home, in Paris.


About the Adaptation

With The Bourgeois Gentleman, I underlined a conflict throughout the play, through the use of language. The famous exchange between the Philosophy Master and Monsieur Jourdain was what gave me the idea. One of the funniest jokes of the play was Monsieur Jourdain's discovery that he has "been speaking prose all my life, and didn't even know it!" I chose to further distinguish Monsieur Jourdain by NOT having him speak in verse, however much the folk around him may conform to the admittedly theatrical convention. In this universe of the play, the characters consciously work to exploit a heightened speech as a mark of distinction, and Monsieur Jourdain's failure to rise to their plateau is clearly evident. Jourdain may "set up" a rhyming couplet, but he can never successfully complete a rhyme.It is sometimes as though they are lobbing him easy volleys in a tennis match, and he inevitably knocks each one into the net.


Excerpt

Bourgeois Gentleman

Bourgeois Gentleman

Act Two, Scene Four

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Oh, yes. You must. But sir. Before you go, I must confide to you a secret. I am in love with a lady of great rank and quality, and wish to ask your help in writing her a note which I intend to drop most casually at her feet.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

Oh, yes. That ought to be a lovely treat.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

That is the gallant thing now, is it not?

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

Oh, certainly. A verse you’d like to jot?

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

No, no, no verse for me.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

                                      So you want prose?

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

No, neither.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

                  Well, I think we must suppose

It’s one or it’s the other.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

                                    Why?

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

                                            I guess

That those are all the options to express.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

There’s only prose and verse?

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

                                             To make the point most terse:

What isn’t verse is prose, and what’s not prose is verse.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

And this, my speech. What name’s applied to the --

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

The way you speak?

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

                              Yes.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

                                        Prose … Decidedly.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Oh, really? So when I say: “Nicole, bring me my slippers and fetch my nightcap,” is that prose?

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

Most clearly.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Well, what do you know about that! These forty years now, I’ve been speaking in prose without knowing it! How grateful am I to you for teaching me that! So, what I wish to tell the gentle lady is: “Fair Marquise, your lovely eyes make me die of love,” but in a way that’s elegant, and nicely turned.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

Then you can say the fires from her eyes have burned

Your heart down to an ashen ember, and

You suffer night and day --

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Oh no, not like that at all. I want it just as I now told you: “Fair Marquise, your lovely eyes make me die of love.” That’s it.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

You really should draw out the thing a bit.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

No, listen. I only want those words there in that letter, but nicely turned with art to the arrangement.

Please tell me of the ways that this can be expressed,

So that I might select the one that works the … most effectively.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

Well, your first choice could be to put it just the way you’ve said it: “Fair Marquise, your lovely eyes make me die of love,” or then you might say, “Of love, fair Marquise, your lovely eyes make me die.” Or else: “Of lovely love, your eyes, Marquise fair, me make die.” Or then: “Your lovely eyes, fair Marquise, die of love; make me.” Or yet again: “Make me die of love, lovely eyes, your fair Marquise.”

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

But of those several ways which is the best?

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

The one you came up with on your own: “Fair Marquise, your lovely eyes make me die of love.”

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

And to think: I’ve never studied, and yet I did that one right on the first go! I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Tomorrow, please come see me sooner still.

 

PHILOSOPHY MASTER

I will. (HE exits.)

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN (To his LACKEYS.)

And has my suit not yet arrived?

 

SECOND LACKEY

No, Sir.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

That confounded tailor has kept me waiting the whole day long, and here I have so much to do! That puts me into such a lather! A plague upon the rascal of a tailor! The devil take the wretched tailor! Why if I had the scoundrel tailor here with me, I’d tell the odious, detestable treacherous dog of a tailor --

 

Act Two, Scene Five

MASTER TAILOR, JOURNEYMAN TAILOR (Carrying the suit.), MONSIEUR JOURDAIN, LACKEYS

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Ah, there you are! I was just about to get myself annoyed with you!

 

MASTER TAILOR

I wish that I could have come sooner, too,

But found myself in quite an awful boat,

With twenty men at work upon your coat.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

The silk stockings that you sent were far too tight. It took me half the day to get them on, and already they’ve torn two ladders down beneath the pants.

 

MASTER TAILOR

They’ll stretch out on their own given the chance.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Of course they’ll stretch, if I keep tearing seams! And then the pair of shoes you made me hurt my feet. It must be they’re too small.

 

MASTER TAILOR

Oh, no, Sir. That can’t be. No, not at all.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

How not at all! How impertinent!

 

MASTER TAILOR

It’s not too small. You couldn’t hurt in it.

 

MONSEIUR JOURDAIN

And I am telling you I do!

 

MASTER TAILOR

That’s only likely, Sir, if your feet grew.

I think you just imagine there’s some pain.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Imagine it? Well, I suppose I would imagine it if that was what I really felt! And I should think that might be reason enough!

 

MASTER TAILOR

Look, here’s the finest coat in all the court,

The most well-balanced and harmonic sort.

A work of art to take the world aback:

A sober coat that’s not done up in black!

I’ll give six tailors half-a-dozen tries,

And none could touch this coat for sheer surprise.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

But what is this? You’ve placed the flowers in this coat here upside down!

 

MASTER TAILOR

You wanted them the other way around?

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Oh, must you specify these things today?

 

MASTER TAILOR

At court they wear them all the other way.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

The folk of quality wear their flowers towards the floor?

 

MASTER TAILOR

The fashion that the nobles most adore.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Oh, yes, well, that’s all right then.

 

MASTER TAILOR

I’ll point them right side up, if that’s your yen.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

Oh, no!

 

MASTER TAILOR

            I don’t mind if you make a scene.

 

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN

No, you did right. This is the way I ... meant.


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