My first memory of Tartuffe is watching Rex Rabold, a legendary force in Oregon theatre education and splendid actor, do the role at Oregon Shakespeare Festival where I was on a field trip with my seventh-grade class. A photo of the show (was it the curtain call?) was used as a postcard for several years, and I was amazed that I could pick myself out of the audience with relative ease. The production was stylish and smart, yet stubbornly earthy and accessible in a way the Shakespearean fare on offer was not. I think this is what stuck with me, that and the ease with which Molière’s intense delight in excoriating human folly gives way to compassion and forgiveness for someone who has clearly lost himself midway through life’s journey. Inside the laughter ringing through every scene there seems to be another voice asking how it is that we come to forget ourselves and lose our moorings, drifting away from family ties and the overwhelming responsibilities of being a good father and husband toward some brightly lit beacon of safety and redemption that proves to be neither. This duality is present in all great comedies and is one of the main reasons Tartuffe plays so well at a time when almost all our religious institutions are being questioned and held to account for their teachings. It has been a real pleasure creating this piece of theatre with Grant students, and on behalf of all the members of my incredibly dedicated cast and crew, I would like to welcome you to this evening’s performance. We hope you enjoy the show!
– Chris Lane