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Inventing freedom of thought

The BFA theater program mounts two classical French comedies

Religion and the law can be both serious and funny.

The juniors of the Bachelor of Fine Arts program have selected two French comedies that explain just this point. The students are presenting “Tartuffe” and “The Suitors,” written by Moliere and Jean Racine, respectively.

Both plays will be presented today through Sunday at Rarig Center.

Ben Griessmeyer, who plays Tartuffe, said “Tartuffe” is “a lot about what’s true and what’s false in society.”

In the play, Tartuffe, a poor, seemingly religious man, is taken in by a French family, led by

Orgon, the father. Tartuffe uses his false piety to take advantage of all the household members.

Because of his blind following of Tartuffe, Orgon ends up hurting his family.

The play focuses on how even the specter of religion can sometimes diminish one’s logic.

Similarly, “The Suitors,” which takes place in France during the 1700s, illustrates absurdity in the law.

The performance has two main plot lines. The first revolves around a judge who is so desperate for lawsuits, he has tried, convicted and beheaded a rooster. The second story is of Isabelle and Leander, two young lovers.

Although the language and the concepts within the show might be complex, “The Suitors” remains very much a comedy.

Whether you’re in France in the 1700s or the United States in the 21st century, these two plays show religion and law remain fodder for critical, irreverent commentary.

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