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17th Century Reality TV

The cast of the Festival Playhouse production of Molière’s LEARNED LADIES includes Belinda McCauley ’16 (Bélise), Kellie Dugan ’17 (Armande), Madison Donoho ’17 (Philaminte), and Kate Kreiss ’19 (Henriette).

The cast of the Festival Playhouse production of Molière’s LEARNED LADIES includes Belinda McCauley ’16 (Bélise), Kellie Dugan ’17 (Armande), Madison Donoho ’17 (Philaminte), and Kate Kreiss ’19 (Henriette). Photo by Emily Salswedel ’16

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College wraps up its 52nd season with Molière’s comedy, The Learned Ladies, in the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse, Thursday through Sunday, May 12-15.

The play, first produced in 1672, has been perceived as Moliere’s criticism of educated women.  However, Director Marissa Harrington believes “his mockery [targets] the excess in which the women of this play indulge.  We must always seek balance.”

“Though the play encourages female empowerment,” explains Dramaturg Lauren Landman ’18, “it also emphasizes the chaos that occurs when indulgence becomes immodesty–not unlike popular television shows such as Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

“To illustrate this parallel, Festival Playhouse’s production will transform audience members into avid fans of reality television, offering a behind-the-lens perspective that will question what exactly it means to be ‘learned’.”

With today’s reality television shows becoming increasingly popular, Harrington poses a question to the audience: “Do we demand enough truth from ourselves and each other?”

The play opens Thursday, May 12, at 7:30pm. Additional evening performances occur Friday and Saturday, May 13 and 14, at 8p.m., and a matinee concludes the run on Sunday, May 15, at 2pm. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for seniors citizens, and $15 for other adults. For reservations call 269.337.7333 or visit the FP website.

The performance features Elaine Kauffman, costume designer; Lanford J. Potts, scenic and lighting designer; and Val Frank ’17, sound designer. This production of The Learned Ladies has been translated into English verse by Richard Wilbur.