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Moliere's The Learned Ladies (Wilbur)

Moliere's The Learned Ladies (Wilbur)
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: Molière
Translated by: Richard Wilbur
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 82
Pub. Date: 1977
ISBN-10: 082220648X
ISBN-13: 9780822206484
Cast Size: 5 women, 8 men

About the Play:

The Learned Ladies (English language version of Les Femmes Savantes) is a full-length comedy by Molière, translated into English verse by Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur. Two young people are in love, but to marry they must overcome an obstacle: the attitude of her family. Her domineering mother and her cohort of "learned ladies" are taken in by the slick manipulations of mediocre poet and social climber who hopes to cash in on the daughter's dowry, even though she has her heart set on another man. A sparkling version of one of the great comedies of the French Theater.

The Learned Ladies is a tale of love, knowledge and the pursuit of both that centers on a controlling mother and a weak-kneed father with different ideas about who their daughters should wed. Clitandre seeks the hand of Henriette, a match heartily approved of by her father, Chrysale. However, his wife, Philaminte, has other plans for her younger daughter – namely marriage to Trissotin, a foppish wit who panders to Philaminte's intellectual pretensions. Further complications are introduced by Armande, Henriette's older sister, who once rejected Clitandre but now resents his attentions to Henriette; by Bélise, Chrysale's sister, who believes (erroneously) that all men are wildly in love with her; and by Vadius, a scholar jealous of Trissotin's hold on Philaminte. Needless to say the course of true love does not run smoothly, as the pseudo-intellectual posturings of Philaminte and her coterie clash with the struggle between Chrysale and Philaminte over who shall ordain the disposition of their daughter's hand. But happily, and thanks to the maneuvering of Chrysale's brother, Ariste, all is set right in the end, with hypocrisy exposed and true love made triumphant. Molière's witty examination of intellectual pretension and the vicissitudes of love is a classic social satire that mirrors public and private morality as precisely today as in the 1600's.

Les Femmes Savantes was first performed in 1672 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. Richard Wilbur's celebrated translation The Learned Ladies premiered in 1977 at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts and was a resounding success in its first New York staging in 1982 by the Roundabout Theater Company. Since then the play has been produced widely at professional theatres across the US and has been mounted by high schools, colleges, and community theatres.

Cast: 5 women, 8 men

What people say:

"…Mr. Wilbur's latest Moliere, The Learned Ladies (Les Femmes Savantes), is every bit as well-written as its predecessors…." — New York Times

"Before the word "repressed" was invented, Moliere wrote a sparkling satire of sexually frustrated, bossy women called The Learned Ladies, first produced in 1672. These women inhabit a world “where everything is known except what matters” (in Richard Wilbur's excellent translation), a place where if the meek inherit the Earth, it will only be because of expert manipulation." — Los Angeles Times

About the Playwright:

Molière was the stage name of Jean Baptiste Molière (1622-1673). His plays achieved great success and elicited enormous controversy with their religious irreverence.

Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) was an acclaimed American poet and literary translator. A former chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and United States Poet Laureate, he is one the 20th century's most eminent American poets and literary translators. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry – twice – among many other awards. He also established himself as the finest translator of Molière's plays and his verse translations have been performed for audiences throughout the world.

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