A Maid by Molière?

Themes / Programming

That doesn’t sound very rewarding, when you put it like that.
I admit it.
Between being a maid – even as imagined by Molière – and Berenice, Antigone, Juliette, Desdemona…
a young girl who wants to shine on stage will choose the great tragic roles instead.

And yet… what a mistake! To make you cry or make you laugh is the choice between these roles.
Try to make a room laugh without overdoing it. You will tell me more about it.

Okay – they are “secondary roles”.
The leading female role, even in Molière’s work, is the sweet young girl harassed by a hideous old man, when she has found a pretty lover – poor, but pretty.

That being said, it is better to have a slightly lame actress for the girl and an excellent actress for the maid.

The maid in these plays has a fundamental role: she is the one who will flush out the ridicule of the vile old man.
She will mock him mercilessly.
She will watch him fall madly in love with a kid who could have been his great-granddaughter, and she will not waste an opportunity to betray the old man to help the young couple.

In the Imaginary Invalid, Toinette will turn into a doctor – one of the worst and one of the most beautiful imaginable.
This role is the body and voice of the fiercest critic, because she is funny.
Are you sick? It’s the lung.
Do your feet hurt? The lung.
Don’t you like spinach? The lung, I tell you!
Do you have heartburn? The lung, what should I tell you?

A hat, a dress, and there she goes to attack her ‘master’ – who won’t be able to get over it. He’s such a hypochondriac that he absolutely had to marry his daughter to his doctor’s son – here come the Diafoirus on stage.

If you look at the 500,000 versions, in French, in English, in whatever you want of Molière’s plays – their only flaw is the incredible love of the directors for “period costume”. We’d take that off… and we’re in the 21st century without a problem.

Yes, yes I’ve seen some versions in English much more trashy and modern – in the end you might be better than us for our ‘great author’. But then again, we’re better than you are at Shakespeare.
Me? I said that ???? Well, yes. We have Thomas Jolly’s staging of Shakespeare in rock and full-length versions, 8 hours in a row please.
I’m moving away.

I didn’t talk about putting together a single piece – but about Molière’s “soubrettes”.

I would also very much like, before, after, the Scheherazade year, to have a year of Molière-style “soubrettes”: here it will be a matter of bringing to light these secondary female characters (yes, yes, they are rare enough to be congratulated) who are motors of laughter.

This doesn’t mean that I intend to get into sexism at all costs – but still, gentlemen, please acknowledge that the place given to girls in the stories is quite…. pathetic.
So when you can find a seam where they’re not the pretty jugs around the corner, you’ve got to tap into that seam.

And since girls in comedy is quite rare, it’s well worth devoting a whole theme of programming and activities to it – with, of course, comedy lessons for apprentice actresses.

But – yes – not wanting to be sexist, we will also have to think about giving a lot of attention to the secondary roles: without them, there is no good story.
And if we say “second role” and it’s demeaning… then we’ll ask the lead roles to present their “seconds”. They’ll do it, they’re nice people.

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Featured Image : Toinette – Merci

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