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School for Wives runs until March 6

image from the poster for School for Wives

The Illinois State University School of Theatre and Dance will present School for Wives, by nineteenth century French playwright Molière, beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 and running through Friday, March 6, in the University’s Westhoff Theatre.

Opening weekend performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 26, 27 and 28, with a 2 p.m. matinee March 1. The show continues the following week at 7:30 p.m. March 3, 4, 5 and 6. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors and can be purchased at the College of Fine Arts Box Office, located in the Center for the Performing Arts, by phone at (309) 438-2535, or online at Special group rates are also available by contacting the ticket office manager.

School for Wives, regarded as one of Molière’s crowning achievements, is a comedic look at the politics of gender, jealousy, and lust. The play follows middle-aged Arnolphe, who isolates his young ward Agnes to prepare her for the duties of a faithful wifehood. However, when Agnes leaves the nunnery and happens to fall in love with the first man she meets, the show unravels in a web of mix-ups, unusual characters and comic situations.

Director Jonathan Sell, MFA directing candidate at Illinois State, notes that the play goes beyond its Commedia dell’Arte roots to comment on the issues of gender, marriage, and love. Sell says it is “a funny, fast-paced, heartfelt, entertaining (albeit controversial) masterpiece that tells a story of real characters caught up in real situations.” Sell further upends gender roles in the play by casting a female to play the male role of Horace, the love interest of Agnes.

Text and voice coach, Professor Kevin Rich, and movement and style coach, Professor Paul Dennhardt, assist the actors in handling the poetic text and period style in this verse translation by Richard Wilbur. The set is designed by Samantha Gribben, costumes by Hilary Winkworth, lighting by James Morrison, and hair and make-up by Jamie Jones, all of whom are graduate design students in the School of Theatre and Dance.