Hesston College Theatre weaves famous comedy into a circus

Promotional photos for Hesston College production of Moliere's Tartuffe

Hesston College Theatre will present five performances of Molière’s seventeenth century comedy, “Tartuffe,” directed by Laura Kraybill, Feb. 26, 28, March 1 and 2 in the Northlawn Studio Theatre on the Hesston College campus.

The play, first performed in 1664, follows the story of a wealthy household who gets tricked by an imposter named Tartuffe claiming to be very pious and religious. Trouble ensues when Tartuffe tries to steal the family’s money and seduce the women.

Kraybill says the show is fast-paced, high energy and is physically comedic.

“Tartuffe is three-ring circus meets Hunger Games meets Cirque du Soleil,” said Kraybill.

Though not originally written with a circus in mind, the Hesston College production uses the ridiculous characters to portray a circus, including live circus acts of unicycle, ribbon twirling and juggling before and during the performances. The audience will also have the opportunity to get involved in the action during the intermission.

King Louis XIV of France banned the original production of the play because it shed a negative light on religion. Molière’s intentions for they play, however, were to highlight religious hypocrisy. The play was rewritten to the king’s standards and was allowed to be performed in 1669, becoming one of the most famous comedies in dramatic literature.

Show times are 7 p.m. Feb. 26, 28 and March 1, 2 p.m. March 1 and 3 p.m. March 2.

“Tartuffe” is rated PG for adult themes. Running time is about two and a half hours including a 10-minute intermission.

Ticket prices are $10 for adults and seniors and $5 for students. Tickets can be purchased through the Hesston College Bookstore in person, by phone at 620-327-8105 or online at books.hesston.edu. Tickets will also be available at the door 45 minutes prior to each show and are subject to availability.

Cast and crew

Mme Pernelle, Orgon’s mother – Michele Hershberger (faculty)
Orgon, Elmire’s husband – JD Hershberger (sophomore, Hesston, Kan.)
Elmire, Orgon’s wife – Taylor Zehr (freshman, Wauseon, Ohio)
Damis, Orgon’s son – Megan Goodrich (sophomore, Buchanan, Mich.)
Mariane, Orgon’s daughter – Rachelle Adrian (freshman, Mountain Lake, Minn.)
Valere, in love with Mariane – Rachel Jantzi (faculty)
Cleante, Orgon’s brother-in-law – Nancy Zhong (freshman, Chengdu, China)
Tartuffe, a hypocrite – Nathanael Ressler (sophomore, Mount Vernon, Ill.)
Dorine, Mariane’s lady’s-maid – Savannah Sizer (freshman, Littleton, Colo.)
M. Loyal, a bailiff – Brent Yoder (faculty)
Police officer/Flipote, maid – Becca Slabaugh (sophomore, Goshen, Ind.)
Circus crew – Stephen Cabe (sophomore, Niles, Mich.), Todd Lehman (staff)

Stage Manager – Charissa Graham (freshman, Princeton, Ill.)
Tech Director – Megan Tyner (faculty)
Light Design – Ethan Koerner (faculty)
Make-up/costume crew – Havela Lehman (freshman, Keizer, Ore.), Heather Dussinger (freshman, New Holland, Pa.), Rachel Jantzi (freshman, Hendersonville, N.C.)
Stage crew – Amber Davis (sophomore, Crawfordsville, Iowa)
Props/hair manager – Kristy Clouse (freshman, Kalona, Iowa)
Sound operator – Austin Brinkman (sophomore, Bloomington, Ill.)
Light board operator – Yuu Sakaguchi (freshman, Isehara, Japan)