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Moliere's The Learned Ladies (Thomas)

Moliere's The Learned Ladies (Thomas)
Your Price: $15.95 CDN
Author: Freyda Thomas
Publisher: Samuel French
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 140
Pub. Date: 2015
ISBN-10: 0573704643
ISBN-13: 9780573704642
Cast Size: 6 women, 4 men

About the Play:

The Learned Ladies (English language version of Les Femmes Savantes) is a full-length comedy by Molière, translated and adapted by Freyda Thomas. Henriette and Clitandre, are two young people in love who, in order to marry, must successfully navigate Henriette's demanding and overeducated family. With the help of Henriette's father and uncle, along with a host of saucy servants who favour the marriage, the couple must convince the rest of the family that the match is a good one. This zany web of love stories, farcical romps and battle of the sexes keeps true to Moliere's original while providing a smorgasbord of modern treats for contemporary audiences.

The Learned Ladies is a hilarious contemporary re-imagining of Moliere's penultimate play. As the story unfolds it is evident the household of Chrysale and his wife Philamente is in absolute disarray. Philamente has decided to dedicate herself and her home to the "life of the mind", the pursuit of noble thought and the practice of intellectual rigour pushing aside her "wifely duties." Chrysale simply wants his dinner and to assert his place as head of the family. Enter Trissotin, a mediocre poet with a lot of sex appeal and little literary talent, who all but seduces the matronly Philamente, determined to be at the forefront of the movement. Equally determined to marry him off to her younger daughter (who just wants to marry her sweetheart Lycandre and raise children), she bullies her meek husband into tacitly agreeing, and the machinations that follow between family members, visiting poets and maids who refuse to learn proper French are predictably and delightfully Molière. Originally produced in 17th Century France, this updated translation has kept Molière's characters' names, French of course, but was written to be performed in a stylized 20th-century setting. Just about any time between 1910 and the present will work. The familiar "Voice of Reason", present in almost every Moliere play and always a male, is for the first time, Female. The language, although in verse, is fun and modern rhyming verse and needs a setting and style conducive to its tone. Flavouring her rhymed couplets with contemporary anachronisms, adapter Freyda Thomas has devised a version that amalgamates styles and periods entertainingly while maintaining Molière's classic wit and wisdom in this rambunctious comedy about upper class pretension.

Les Femmes Savantes was first performed in 1672 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal in Paris. Freyda Thomas's contemporary adaptation of The Learned Ladies premiered in 1991 by the Classic Stage Company (CSC) at CSC Repertory Theatre in New York City. Since then the play was performed at American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco in 1993, with many productions mounted by high schools, colleges, and community theatres.

Cast: 6 women, 4 men

What people say:

"The show's most consistently enlivening presence is that of translator and adapter Freyda Thomas, who translates the playwright's alexandrine verse of 1672 into vital musical forms marked by crisp and unexpected rhymes, period echoes and cheerfully clanging anachronisms….Thomas harmonizes the classical and the contemporary to make us hear Moliere's wit in an appealing new key." — San Francisco Chronicle

"Flavoring her rhymed couplets with contemporary anachronism, adapter Freyda Thomas has devised a pop version of Moliere that amalgamates styles and periods entertainingly. As a result, Ms. Thomas serves the ends of the 17th century French classic and the latter day spectator. The outcome is general satisfaction and general merriment." — Christian Science Monitor

"Thomas' modernisms smartly put the satire's emphasis on the pomposity rather than the feminism of the Precieuse Movement." — Variety

"The show's most consistently enlivening presence is that of translator and adapter Freyda Thomas, who translates the playwright's alexandrine verse of 1672 into vital musical forms marked by crisp and unexpected rhymes, period echoes and cheerfully clanging anachronisms….Thomas harmonizes the classical and the contemporary to make us hear Moliere's wit in an appealing new key." — New York 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.

Freyda Thomas is an American actor, playwright and translator who has been, at one time or another in her life, a college professor, a singer, a big band vocalist, and a high school teacher.