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BWW Interview with Molière in the Park's Lucie Tiberghien

Molière in the Park’s Director Talks About New Play and More

BWW Interview with Molière in the Park's Lucie Tiberghien

Brooklyn's theatre Molière in the Park has a new show on the virtual stage, The School for Wives. A play with an all-female cast centers around obsession and humanity, as it showcases Arnolphe who wants to control his young bride-to-be, Agnès but is stunned when to learn she's much smarter than she seems. Currently, you can stream the recording on MIP's YouTube channel now through Wednesday, October 28, 2pm EST. We spoke to MIP's Founding Artistic Director and director of The School for Wives, Lucie Tiberghien about the theatre, the new play, and social themes the story presents.

How did this play first come about?

Molière in the Park produced a concert reading of The School for Wives at the Picnic House in Prospect Park a year ago. We found the play to be very resonant at the time, as it is, at its core, about gender power relations and, in many ways, #MeToo. When talking through which play we wanted to produce online next, we felt that doing an all-woman version of the School for Wives, with Tonya Pinkins playing the lead role of a traditionally white man, could further expose the absurdity of similar systems of oppression that we see all around us.

What do you hope your audience will walk away from after seeing the show?

We hope that our audience, first and foremost, will feel the joy of being together to enjoy live theater. We are not together in person but we can be together online and watch a fully designed show, unfolding in real time, with actors performing live, as well as board operators calling light, sound and camera cuts in real time, the same way light, sound and set changes are called in real time when we are at the theater in person. Our mission is to bring high caliber theater to people in our community for free. We can't do it in Prospect Park Brooklyn, for the time being, but we can do it online, thanks to Liminal Entertainment Technologies, and in so doing we can aim to entertain people all over the world, spectators who, regardless of the pandemic, might not have access to Molière, to theater in general, or to the level of talent that our actors and our collaborators bring to the work.

What was the inspiration behind having an all-woman cast?

Moliere in the park is committed to engaging with the material we produce, from a place of inclusion, anti- racism, and gender equality. With that in mind, we wanted to explore this 17th. century play through a contemporary lens and all-woman cast that is composed primarily of Black women, mainly to center them and shine a light on the invaluable role they have played throughout the history of this country, and to bring forward justice. For the first time a black woman is on a presidential ticket as vice-president; hopefully that will change the perception of what can happen for ever.

The play focuses on big issues of today, such as racism and sexism. How important were these themes when working on this show?

Thinking about sexism and racism drove many early conversations we had about designing this production. While conceiving the show with Lina Younes, our set designer; Ari Fulton, our costume designer; Marie Yokoyama, our lighting designer; and Emily Rawson our animator, we asked ourselves why and how we could best tell this story in a way that would guide the lens of the viewer to focus on these issues while enjoying the play.

How has the transition been from in-person viewing to online?

Our transition to producing online shows has been challenging and extremely exciting. Partnering from the beginning of this transition with Liminal has allowed us to invest in the development of this entirely new language, and we've found it creatively thrilling. We've also enjoyed being able to be in conversation with people all around the world. I mean, my family in France and Switzerland has seen more of my work in the last 6 months than they have since I moved here in the middle 90's! Many of our collaborators are from different parts of the country or the world, and they can share their work in a way they haven't necessarily been able to. I'm thrilled that our next online show will be a play by the incredible playwright Christina Anderson called Penmanship. We can't wait to share her play in the same way we've shared Molière's work.

Can you tell us more about Molière in the Park? What makes it so unique?

We believe that a community that has access to culture and art is a healthier community. I grew up in France where this principle is a given of our democracy. Why isn't there a cabinet in the US government that is solely dedicated to culture? MIP is about putting theater inside Brooklyn's beating heart, Prospect Park, and making it free and reflective of the people who live in Brooklyn. It's also about seizing the moment and attempting to respond to what's happening around us. When Covid hit, we had the resources to continue doing what we are here to do; we are small and nimble, and we're fortunate to be able to adapt and continue to grow.

(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Mudge with DARR Publicity)

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