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Moliere's
Sganarelle, The Imaginary Cuckold
in a new verse adaptation
by Timothy Mooney

Having fairly recently performed the role of Sganarelle in "The Imaginary Cuckold," I was able to compare Mr. Mooney's translation to the one that was still fresh in my brain. Mooney's translation was far more vibrant; more full of the lovely ribaldry that Moliere would want to be remembered for. Mooney removes the solitary barrier between Moliere and our time/place -- the French language -- and proves that the rhythm and the life of these works are still very much in the pink. -Lee Howard (Oct. 3) - Seattle Fringe Festival

"Mooney's witty wordplay and richly rolling rhythms capture the playwright's
zest and the plays confused circumstances." (Jenn Goddu, Chicago Reader)


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Scene Twenty One

CELIE, LELIE, SGANARELLE (heavily armed), CELIE'S MAID

SGANARELLE
A war! A battle bloody! I shall slay
The man who fouls my honor in this way!

CELIE
Oh, there! Does this sad sight not prove your guilt?

LELIE
How does -- ?

CELIE
              This is the circumstance you've built. 

LELIE
It's you who ought to redden at the sight.

SGANARELLE (Aside.)
I'm fully roused; I'm spoiling for the fight.
My anger gives my courage heads of steam
Which overflows and bristles so extreme,
That I will kill that dog before my thought
Might interrupt. I'll slay him on the spot!
(Approaching Lelie.)
I'll leave behind a carnage dark and bloody.

LELIE
Who is your adversary, sir?

SGANARELLE
                                             Nobody. 

LELIE
Then why this armor?

SGANARELLE
                    What? Oh, you mean this?
It's going to rain. I think I felt a mist.
(Aside, as LELIE turns his back.) Oh do it now! Lay on! Do not demur!

LELIE
How's that? 

SGANARELLE
            Oh, nothing! (Punching and slapping himself.) Weasel!
Stupid cur!

CELIE
His presence here now most acutely stresses
The guilty feelings someone here possesses. 

LELIE
Indeed it does. It makes me want to know,
Just how a woman might quite stoop so low,
To leave the love who worshiped her and yearned -- 

SGANARELLE
Oh, courage, man! 

CELIE
                 Enough! You've fully burned
Your bridges here. You're insolent and addled.

SGANARELLE (Aside.)
Just hear how she supports you in this battle!
It's time to screw your courage til it's stuck
And let the first and final blow be struck
By stabbing him most bravely from behind!

LELIE (Turning back to CELIE, which interrupts SGANARELLE's attack.)
Since nothing that I say can change your mind,
There's naught to do but to embrace my fate,
And compliment your brilliant choice of mate.

CELIE
Oh, yes, my choice is backed by everyone.

LELIE
Of course they'd back a deed already done!

SGANARELLE
She's right to back me here in this affair.
The laws, Sir, clamor at such things you dare;
You wrong me with the wily way you got her,
Almost inspiring me to acts of slaughter.

LELIE
I wrong you? I'm afraid that I don't get it.

SGANARELLE
You can't deny it. You already said it.
Are you so taken with your fond obsession,
That you don't see my wife as my possession?
Fair Heaven frowns on such appropriation
It's not a Christian form of recreation.

LELIE
What you suggest, Monsieur, is quite absurd.
Your wife is yours; of that I'm well assured,
And I'll not vy to take the woman off. 

CELIE
You traitor! Liar! How you laugh and scoff!

LELIE
What? Do you think I have some sort of plan,
To steal the wife of this pathetic man? 
Can you imagine I'd be such a traitor? 

CELIE
Ask him! He'll tell of what you've done, you satyr!

SGANARELLE (To CELIE.)
Oh Madam, you must tell it in your fashion;
I couldn't match your ardor and your passion.

Scene Twenty Two
CELIE, LELIE, SGANARELLE, SCANARELLE'S WIFE, CELIE'S MAID

SGANARELLE'S WIFE
Madame, I don't believe in making scenes,
In jealous rages or in venting spleens
But I will not pretend that I don't know;
Your actions make for quite a sordid show.
And this is too, too much, you must agree,
To take a man whom Heaven gave to me. 

CELIE
Well that assertion leaves no room for doubt.

SGANARELLE (To his WIFE.)
You slut! What are you going on about? 
She comes to my defense and you berate her 
Are you afraid she'll take your lover later? 

CELIE (To SGANARELLE'S WIFE.)
I don't find him attractive; Ma'am, in truth.
(To LELIE.) You must confess now, after all this proof.

LELIE
Confess to what? What's this? 

MAID
                             How can you four
Have managed to confuse this even more?
I've stood by and attended to your show,
But find the more I hear, the less I know.
Perhaps you need a little intervention.
(Standing between LELIE and CELIE.)
I'll ask some simple questions. Your attention.
(To LELIE.) What's your complaint against this woman now?

LELIE
That she has gone against her sacred vow.
I hastened home when word reached me that said
There was another man she was to wed. 
I rode like wind; I never stopped or tarried,
And yet, arriving, found that she was married. 

MAID
Married? To whom?

LELIE
                  To him.

MAID
                         To him?

LELIE 
                                 Oh, yes!

MAID
Who told you so? 

LELIE
                Why he did.

MAID (To SGANARELLE.)
                          And I guess
You can affirm this statement?

SGANARELLE
                             All I said
Was to say that my wife and I were wed. 

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About Timothy Mooney

Tim Mooney has worked in, with and around the theatre for almost thirty years, as an actor, director and playwright, and everything in-between.

Tim received his bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University, and a master of fine arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He went on to internships with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and the Seattle Rep, where he was assistant director to John Dillon and Daniel Sullivan, respectively.

Tim taught acting and stage movement for two years with Northern Illinois University, before creating “The Script Review,” a newsletter that reviewed some 700 plays in manuscript form over the course of seven years, distributed to Literary Managers and Directors all over the United States. As a director, Tim’s production of “Secret Obscenities” was one of five winners at the Bailiwick Directors’ Festival in Chicago.

From there, Tim stepped in as Artistic Director of the Stage Two Theatre Company, where he produced nearly fifty plays in five years, most of them original works.

When Stage Two turned to the classics, Tim adapted his own sparkling rhymed, iambic-pentameter versions of the plays of Moliere creating fifteen new Moliere plays in seven years. Stage Two produced “Tartuffe,” “The Miser,” “The Schemings of Scapin,” “The Misanthrope,” “The Doctor in Spite of Himself” and “Sganarelle,” and companies around the world picked up on these plays too, with productions all across the United States, as well as Canada and even India. U.S. venues included the Pasadena Shakespeare Festival, M.I.T., Wayne State University and Universities of Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio and many more.

Tim’s writing work brought him full circle, back in front of the footlights as a performer, playing the lead role in many of the works he had written. (In fact, all of the roles in which he now found himself cast were the parts that Moliere himself had originated!) This was to give Tim the impetus for a one-man show, “Moliere Than Thou” (Best Adapted Work, San Francisco Fringe Fest). The play serves as a quick introduction to some of Moliere’s greatest works and speeches, and has been seen all over the U.S. and Canada. It has given tens of thousands of students their first exposure to Moliere, and along the way Tim has taught thousands of students in his workshops, introducing the concepts further developed in his upcoming text, “Acting at the Speed of Life,” as well as his collection of Moliere Monologues.

Most recently, Tim has further refined the art of the one-person show, creating a one-man Sci-Fi Thriller, “Criteria,” (Artistic Picks Finalist, Seattle Fringe Fest), as well as “Karaoke Knights” a “One Man Rock Opera.”

Tim continues to write new versions of the plays of Moliere, novels, short stories, songs, children’s stories and screenplays.


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A video of the original Stage Two production of Sganarelle, The Imaginary Cuckold is now available from A&M Video Productions for $30 (Free US Shipping, $7 international shipping). This archive video, shot with a single camera, is intended for producers interested in how it was originally staged.

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