'The Misanthrope' satirizes sincerity and society
April 21, 2015
"The Misanthrope," LaGrange College Theatre's latest production, looks at a world
filled with deceit, insincerity and a fascination with gossip – issues that might
be familiar to a modern audience.
Director and Theatre Arts Professor Kim Barber Knoll said there are things in
today's world that will help playgoers relate to Moliere's 17th century French
"Imagine that everyone had access to your text messages, your private Facebook
pages and your phone conversations," she said. "Imagine them being read aloud to
your friends, colleagues and family. Imagine a society where you could say exactly
what you think at all times – about everyone and everything.
"And then imagine the chaos that ensues."
Most of the characters in "The Misanthrope" thrive on being beautiful, popular
and clever, she said.
"In that society, those qualities were heightened by larger-than-life grandeur,
lavish praise, secret missives of love, pledges of deep friendship and frantic
attempts to stay in good favor at the French Court."
However, things are never what they seem, and there is a constant struggle between
what is true and what is in fashion.
Ashleigh Poteat, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts, used that dichotomy as inspiration
when she designed the production's costumes and scenery.
"The play is about the conflict between sincerity and society, so I was able to
show a character's conformity, or lack of, with costume choices," she said. "The
costumes should guide the audience in what they can expect from a character. You
should be able to look at a character and tell how much he or she buys into all
of these social conventions, or how much he or she is fighting against them."
A period piece like "The Misanthrope" also offers challenges for its actors. Senior
Madeline Sain said the key is keeping everything as genuine as possible.
"We have to adopt the language and style in in a natural way, whether it's Shakespeare
or Moliere," she said. "For me, staying connected to the text, even though it is
written in rhyming couplets, has been the most difficult. It is easy to fall into
a sing-song that the rhyming words create, but I have been trying to push myself
to think about what (my character) really wants to accomplish with her words."
Madeline said audiences will love "The Misanthrope."
"It hilariously explores what happens when people stop being polite and let their
true colors show," she said. "It's a very funny play with a lot of interesting
characters, such as (my character) Arsinoe. She is a high-society woman who prides
herself on her connections and her piety. However, she is ruthless in trying to
get what she wants and doesn't mind stepping on others in the process. She's a
lot of fun to play."
Madeline is one of three graduating seniors who will be performing for the last
time on the stage of Price Theater. She plans to pursue a master's degree in acting,
and received seven callbacks from graduate schools at the University Resident Theatre
Association auditions in New York City and at the Southeastern Theatre Conference
in Chattanooga in March.
Austin Taylor and Elissa Morman also will be taking their final bows when "The
Misanthrope" closes. After graduation, Austin will head to the Papermill Theatre
in Lincoln, N.H., where he recently was hired for the summer as a member of the
acting company. Barber Knoll worked for 20 years at The Papermill as an Equity
guest artist and artistic director.
Elissa recently auditioned for Disney in Orlando, and plans to continue pursuing
work in professional theater.
Another graduating senior, Kevin Metasavage, did most of the painting on the inlaid
floor of the set. Kevin will head to a professional summer job at the Santa Fe
Opera after graduation.
Madeline said everything is very bittersweet right now – when she has time to
think about it.
"We've been so busy the past few weeks that it hasn't sunk in quite yet," she
Barber Knoll said the seniors have been excellent role models for their fellow
"They have set wonderful examples for everyone with their energy, professionalism
and the way they've risen to the style of 17th century Moliere," she said. "We
are so very proud of them, and will miss them."
Show times for "The Misanthrope" are 7:30 p.m. April 22-25 and 2:30 p.m. April
26. LC students, faculty and staff are admitted free. General admission tickets
are $10, and $7 for senior citizens and non-LC students. To make reservations,
or call the box office at (706) 880-8080. Box office hours are noon until 4 pm.