Cuban Theater Digital Archive

Jean Baptiste Poquelin Molière

Author / playwright

Whose real name was Jean Baptiste Poquelin, composed 12 of the most durable and penetratingly satirical full-length comedies of all time, some in rhyming verse, some in prose, as well as six shorter farces and comedies. As a comic dramatist he ranks with such other distinctive masters of the genre as Aristophanes, Plautus, and George Bernard Shaw. He was also the leading French comic actor, stage director, and dramatic theoretician of the 17th century. In a theatrical period, the early baroque, dominated by the formal neoclassical tragedies of Mairet, Rotrou, du Ryer, Pierre and Thomas Corneille, and Racine, Molière affirmed the potency of comedy as a serious, flexible art form. He also wrote a number of pastorals and other indoor and outdoor divertissements, such as his popular comedy-ballets, that depended on a formidable array of stage machinery (mostly imported from Italy) capable of providing swift and startling changes of sumptuous scenic effects.
The strongest influence on Molière's theater came from the Italian commedia dell'arte troupes -- with their stock characters and situations -- that he encountered during his travels. This influence was enhanced by Molière's sharing of the Théâtre du Petit-Bourbon in Paris with the Italian Players, led by the celebrated Scaramouche. In his longer comedies, Molière immensely refined the commedia themes and techniques, setting most of his plots in and around Paris and raising neoclassical French comedy to a plane of artistry and inventiveness never attained before or since. He applied the alexandrine , or rhymed hexameter line -- borrowed from contemporary tragedies, many of which he had staged -- to a relaxed dialogue that imitated conversational speech. He also created a gallery of incisive portraits: Tartuffe the religious hypocrite, and Orgon, his dupe; Jourdain the social climber; Don Juan the rebel and libertine; cuckolds such as Arnolphe, Dandin, and Amphitryon; Alceste the stony idealist; Harpagon the miser; Scapin the trickster; Argan the hypochondriac; Philaminte the pretentiously cultured lady; and many more.
(Information taken from website)

Notes: +

    His principal short plays (in one or two acts) are:
    The Jealous Husband (1645?)
    The Flying Doctor (1648?)
    Sganarelle (1660)
    The Rehearsal at Versailles (1663)
    and The Forced Marriage (1664)

    The longer plays (in three or five acts) include:
    The School for Husbands (1661)
    The School for Wives (1662)
    Tartuffe (1664)
    Don Juan (1665)
    The Misanthrope (1666)
    The Doctor in Spite of Himself (1666)
    Amphitryon (1668)
    The Miser (1668)
    George Dandin (1668)
    The Bourgeois Gentleman (1670)
    Scapin (1671)
    The Learned Ladies (1672)
    and The Imaginary Invalid (1673)

Written texts: +

Author: Alberto Sarraín (2007-12-10)

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