Tartuffe in Quarantine: A look into how the Theatre Department is still performing through Zoom.

There is no surprise that theaters all over the world have had to adapt there 2020 and 2021 seasons. Eastern’s Theatre Department is no different as they put on a popular French comedy written by Molière.

“Tartuffe” was written in the 1600s and focuses on religious hypocrisy as well as the family dynamic. While the show illustrates heavier content, it is a comedy at heart. The show is a classic; however, Eastern is doing it with a twist. Curt Himmelberger, director and professor at Eastern University, has translated the show to make it more relevant and adaptable to the Zoom format. Instead of the traditional French comedy, the university will be performing “Tartuffe in Quarantine.”

“Because I knew I was going to do a virtual production, I actually wrote a new translation,” Himmelberger stated. “I feel that sometimes audiences aren’t as engaged in watching a Zoom show, especially when the actors are pretending to be in the same room but are clearly on different Zoom screens.”

While the show is adapted to this new age and life that we are currently living, Eastern’s production will still hold most of the show’s original properties. “I’ve translated the Molière text to be like a family in a Zoom call, in a pandemic, in 2021,” Himmelberger said. “So, the text used to say, ‘I’m sorry, I’m going to leave the room now,’ it now says, ‘I’m sorry, I’m going to sign off now.’”

Eastern will be doing the first production of “Tartuffe in Quarantine.” The cast is made up of 10 actors ranging from freshman to seniors. While “Tartuffe” is typically a male dominant show, Eastern’s cast consists of all women. “When talking about traditional shows, there are some of the most iconic, classical roles that are almost always played by men, so why can’t a woman play Hamlet and now, why can’t a woman play these famous French characters?” Himmelberger stated.

The cast has been rehearsing completely on Zoom in addition to the production being performed on the virtual platform. “There are some difficulties with rehearsing on Zoom, especially Zoom fatigue. If students are in Zoom class all day long, you’re worried that you might have technical difficulties with people’s Wi-Fi, and you don’t have the experience of being on the same set together in the same room; however, from my perspective, there have been a lot of good things to come out of this rehearsal process.” Himmelberger said.

Himmelberger explains that as the director, he has tried to keep the rehearsals light and fun, limiting the number of actors in every rehearsal to limit Zoom fatigue. He also suggested that virtual rehearsals may even benefit students because they can jump on calls at the last minute from the comfort of their rooms, making rehearsals much more manageable for students. “Tartuffe in Quarantine” will be performed on Mar. 25, 26, and 27. The production will be free for all students and family; however, there is a $5 suggested donation. Audience members can purchase their tickets online and will receive a Zoom link to view one of the performances. For more information, visit eastern.edu/tartuffe.


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