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How dare you even hinder or annoy,
When I've the means to ruin and destroy
You should have thought before my toes you trod.
Attacking me, you set yourself 'gainst God!--


Tartuffe Picture

Tartuffe
by Moliere

in a new verse adaptation
by Timothy Mooney


The Reviews are In!

Mooney's translation may well be the star of the show...a comic
theatricality that sweeps through Moliere's panorama of humor--from high
to low. Mooney is quite skillful at massaging the iambs and bringing a
contemporary twinkle to the choice of words and rhyme.

--Back Stage West

Penned in rhyming iambic pentameter, Timothy Mooney's animated...
adaptation comes peppered with humor-heightening colloquialisms. Its
language is a delight.

--LA Weekly

Moliere would doubtless have enjoyed all of the contemporary guffaws that Mooney's irreverent version of this timeless comedy provokes from a modern audience.
--Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune

A gleefully giddy romp that sacrifices none of Moliere's insightful satire....--Mary Shen Barnidge, Windy City Times

Mooney has admirably bridged the centuries, staying true to the sense and semblance of Moliere while bringing the play a contemporary feel with minimal anachronism.--Rick Moser, News Sun

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About Moliere's Tartuffe


When the religious hypocrite Tartuffe ingratiates himself with Orgon and his mother Mme. Pernelle, he is taken into their home and promised Orgon's daughter's hand in marriage (even as he secretly attempts to seduce Orgon's wife, Elmire). Everyone else in the family sees through Tartuffe's pose, and his machinations and hypocrisies are eventually exposed, but is it too late to save the family from eviction and to keep Orgon from being thrown in prison? This playful adaptation of Moliere's classic comedy sharply satirizes blind hypocrisy, religious piety, and deceit in irreverent rhymed verse.

The Banning of the Play

1664, France: "Le Tartuffe ou l'Imposteur" banned from the public stage by Louis XIV who, nevertheless, read it aloud to an audience which included high dignitaries of the Church. 1667: While the King was away in Flanders, the play was given as "The Impostor."

Results

1664, France: The first three acts were given repeatedly at court, but Moliere could not get permission for a public performance. During these years the church called him "a demon in human flesh," closed his theater, and tore down his posters. 1667: The theater was ordered closed by the Chief of Police, and the Archbishop of Paris laid a ban of excommunication on all who might act in the play, read it, or see it.

1669: Permission was granted by the King to perform the play in public.

Source: Banned Books 387 BC to 1978 AD, by Anne Lyon Haight, and

Chandler B. Grannis, R.R. Bowker Co, 1978.

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About the Adaptation

by Timothy Mooney

Tartuffe was my first attempt at adapting Moliere, and I found myself challenged to make the pious hypocrite's particular philosophical bent understandable to the general public. In Moliere's original, we find Tartuffe arguing the somewhat obscure "purity of intention" angle, which in some lexicon might actually seem well-intended in these days. This was probably the greatest liberty that I took with the play, having Tartuffe reach beyond his humble state to suggest that he considers himself a great man, and has thereby worked out a special deal with God. He goes so far, almost, as to place the blame on Heaven for lack of clarity: "Heaven's contradictions / give latitude to men of pure convictions." Pushing the envelope just a bit farther, his egoism rises to the surface, as he suggests that "with great men, our Lord makes higher pacts."

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Tartuffe
Act IV, Scenes 5-6

TARTUFFE, ELMIRE, ORGON (Hiding.)

ELMIRE
When I put up such limited resistance,
It begs you escalate your male insistence.
It's modesty, of course, on surface level,
Prevented me from giving way to revel.
The stronger that I felt my heart was linked,
The more I chided, even as I winked.
As such, I trolled with but a soft demur,
Intended as no sinker, but a lure.
I hoped that you might rise to take the bait,
And that you'd see beyond the case I'd state.
It shames me to emerge from my denial,
And thus engage you frankly without guile.
But in thus far, let's make this supposition:
I listened to your lengthy proposition
Without retort. I tried to get Damis,
To go in quiet and to hold his peace.
Would I have been so even and so measured,
Had I not found myself covertly pleasured?
And would I not oppose to subsequent
Promotion of new marriage covenant?
Of course, I fought for you, my love, most fierce,
To stop a match at which my heart would pierce,
Appalled to think another might well be,
Entangled with the man I meant for me.

TARTUFFE
My dear Elmire: a heavenly delight,
For your fair lips to give fine words such flight,
They fly about my pate, I catch my breath,
This moment I could die a happy death.
How long I've longed for kind word of affection,
Which now I feel in your most kind inflection.
But, by your leave, I pause for just a thought:
What if your daughter's wedding has now brought
You to the point of warming to this lust.
What proof have I to loosen my distrust?
It's possible that once the wedding's off,
My passions might again be yours to scoff.
I fear I must withhold my fond decision,
Till you assuage an intimate provision.
I hesitate to act on my delight,
Until my love you manage to requite.

ELMIRE
(She coughs, to cue Orgon.)
Such haste, my love! Allow me but a chance,
Before engaging in such hallowed dance.
My dear confession robbed me of my store
Of modest mistress' bounty. Must my core
Expose to you so fast in all its glory?
Must we jump to the climax of this story?

TARTUFFE
So lowly am I, Madame, in my eyes,
Such notion with mere words can't be revised.
This talk of your affection lends me strength,
But only going to a greater length,
Convinces me your love is frank and true,
And that will be once I have been with you.
And though for now, I have some doubt instilled,
That doubt dissolves when promise is fulfilled.

ELMIRE
Your love, Sir, is a very harsh taskmaster,
It dizzies me, and travels ever faster,
I've not known man so vigorous and virile.
Your bold attack, from both the front and rear'll
Leave me with little room to make a choice.
As you defy objections ere I voice.
Can modesty not save a wayward scrap,
Or must you steal my feather for your cap?
You charge me with resolve severe and stern,
Insisting that your faith, in me, I earn.

TARTUFFE
Well, if you are, as you say, strongly moved,
Your ardor, certainly, is simply proved?

ELMIRE
But how can my quick acquiescence jive,
With God's dictates for which you ever strive?

TARTUFFE
Is that what bothers you? A churchish fear?
If that is all, then we are free and clear!
You need not fret yourself about God's laws.

ELMIRE
Won't holy retribution give you pause?

TARTUFFE
I'll teach you, Ma'am, that Heaven's contradictions,
Give latitude to men of pure convictions.
It's true that Heaven frowns on some dark acts,
Though with great men, our Lord makes higher pacts.
A pious man made study of a science,
In which, through other paths, one finds compliance,
Enabling us to balance indiscretion,
Against the zeal of one's professed repression.
I'll teach to you of science' subtle ways,
To clear your conscience and to ease your days.
For now though, let us finish what we started,
If sin there is, be it on me imparted.
(Elmire coughs, louder than before.)
Rough cough.

ELMIRE
Oh, yes, it nags me day and night.

TARTUFFE
(Pulling out a little bag:)
Some licorice might help to set it right.

ELMIRE
No, licorice would scarce get it's attention;
This one demands some higher intervention.

TARTUFFE
How dreadful.


ELMIRE
More than anybody thinks.

TARTUFFE
Now, if you're still concerned, know Heaven winks,
At carnal joys known quietly in private.
Decorum is the way one will survive it.
It's whiff of scandal, draws out Heaven's wrath,
And silent sin still sticks to Heaven's path.

ELMIRE (Still coughing:)
Well, I suppose your thesis has been proved,
And nothing keeps me thus from being moved.
I see that nothing short of sweaty deed,
Will satisfy the hunger that you feed.
I'd no intent to take this all the way,
But with no one to witness, who's to say?
As you seem so determined to engage,
And take our courtship to a latter stage,
And as the slightest disapproving reason,
Would sound like a coquette who's only teasin',
If this is sin, it's not upon my head,
But he who idled while I was thus led.
On his head, may the consequence be felt.

TARTUFFE
I'll deal with that, Madame, should it be dealt.
For now ...

ELMIRE
Would you just look about once more?
Make sure my husband's nowhere near the door.

TARTUFFE
Your husband? Why concern about that rube?
He drinks in every story like a boob!
If he caught us, en flagrante, that dull lout,
He'd offer up to God a joyful shout!
And even when he realized, that clown,
He'd chastise you, be careful of your gown!

ELMIRE
But yet, for sake of my unbridled passion,
Please look to see that no one waits to dash in.

Act Four, Scene Six
ORGON, ELMIRE

ORGON
(Coming out from beneath the table:)
A total monster; he's an utter cad!
He's diabolical ... completely bad!

ELMIRE
Oh, coming out already? No, not yet!
Why not wait for some more certain threat?
Make sure you watch until you're satisfied,
At least till his entreaty's gratified.

ORGON
Could hell contain so dreadful of a beast?

ELMIRE
Why stop him now? My dress is scarcely creased!
This saint of yours, Orgon, our dear Tartuffe,
Can hardly be indicted with such proof!

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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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