The Moppets bring “Tartuffe” to Asheville

Bonjour, les amis des Moppets!

Our artistic director has never shied away from challenging our Moppets to bring a little something new to the Asheville theater scene, and our Moppets have never blinked an eye at what she’s thrown their way (time-traveling Scrooges, 10-minute “Richard III”s and flip-flops included).

So we were not at all surprised when Ashleigh came to our season planning meeting armed with a heavily-highlighted copy of Molière’s “Tartuffe.“

OK, maybe we were a little bit surprised.

Once we got past our initial shock, though (a non-Shakespeare title? How now, Ashleigh!) we realized that this 17th Century French satire would be perfect for our first show of the 2022 season. “Tartuffe” has everything the Moppets love: a little romance, a little laughter, and a good bit of back-stabbing.

Not actual stabbing, though, to our Moppets’ dismay. It’s a youth theater company. The kids love a good stabbing.

But they’ll just have to wait for “Julius Caesar” for that!

Who? What? Wherefore?

You may be wondering why The Montford Moppets Youth Shakespeare Company is kicking off the 2022 season with Molière, who is certainly an excellent and well-respected playwright but is not our namesake.*** We wondered the same thing, so we asked our artistic director.

“I feel like our troupe is ready to tackle classics beyond Shakespeare, and ‘Tartuffe’ is a great classic farce,” Ashleigh said. “It’s a great opportunity to work on comedic timing in a genuine ensemble show.”

Considered one of the greatest French writers ever, Molière wrote comedies and satire in the mid-1600s, sometimes under the patronage of Louis XIV. His play “Tartuffe, or the Imposter, or the Hypocrite” is the story of a sanctimonious scoundrel’s machinations in the household of a wealthy Parisian and how the con man is eventually unmasked. It’s a comedy about religious hypocrisy, gullibility and obsession — all themes that are still relevant today!

Fun fact: “Tartuffe” was banned in its first two iterations at the behest of the Catholic Church and was only allowed to be published after Molière changed the ending to flatter the king! (That’s why it has so many names!)

“Tartuffe” is witty, biting and pretty racy. So racy, in fact, that we’ve edited it a bit for content. This is a youth theater, after all.