The cast for Tartuffe includes (l-r) Jessica Smoot as Dorine the maid; Madison Cunningham as the hero named Cleante; Jansen Patterson as the villain Tartuffe and Kia Dorsey as Mariane, a damsel in distress. Costumes are designed by undergraduate theatre majors Madeliene Pritner, Dara Affholter and Jordan Butler. Photo by Dara Affholter.

The Department of Theatre at Oklahoma State University will present the classic comedy “Tartuffe” for just $5 a seat Nov. 19 – 24 in the Vivia Locke Theatre of the Seretean Center for the Performing Arts. The play is by the comic genius Moliere who uses “Tartuffe,” a French word meaning hypocrite or imposter, as a cautionary tale to show how religious obsession can go too far.

“Known for its brilliant verbal fireworks and physical humor, Tartuffe is a masterpiece of world drama, so audiences are in for a fun time, and maybe an educational experience too,” said Andrew Kimbrough, new head of the OSU Department of Theatre. “Written in 1664, the play was banned in its day due to its subject matter, and still pushes the boundaries of two of the last great taboos: sex and religion.”

While tickets for most OSU Theatre performances are typically priced between $10-$15, Kimbrough is committed to packing the house and exposing all Stillwater and area residents to top notch productions, so all seats are going for only $5 each.

“When I interviewed for the job at OSU, I could not help but notice the amazing professional credits that this theatre faculty has earned at leading theatres across the country and around the world. I could not believe I was being asked to work alongside what appeared to me to be the best theatre faculty in the state, if not the region,” said Kimbrough. “I want everyone to see the outstanding work mounted by the faculty and the students.”

Stillwater native Jennifer Stewart Sampson will direct “Tartuffe.” Born and raised in Stillwater, Sampson left Oklahoma to earn her MFA in Theatre from The University of San Diego and the prestigious Old Globe Theatre.

“I’m thrilled to be back. Growing up I felt like a fixture in the Seretean Center, where I saw my first performances. The Theatre Department at OSU had a formative influence on me, so I consider this a special treat.”

Sampson lives in California with her family, but returns as guest artist with directing credits earned at theatres on the west coast and New York. “Training at the Old Globe was unbelievable,” she said. “I had the unique opportunity to work alongside Tony Award winning directors like Jack O’Brien, Mark Lamos, and Daniel Sullivan. I hope to bring something fresh and unique to this production.”

OSU’s production will be in period style, with costumes and a set designed by gifted undergraduate student designers Madeliene Pritner, Dara Affholter, and Jordan Butler. Professor Heidi Hoffer designed the lights, and assistant professor Lee Brasuell designed sound.

This production also marks Kimbrough’s Stillwater debut. “We had a student leave the show due to an unfortunate medical issue at the last minute, so I’m helping in a small way,” explains Kimbrough. He actually has a large role, playing the patriarch Orgon. Kimbrough comes to OSU having taught at the University of Kentucky for the past eight years. Prior to Kentucky, he acted and worked in the film industry in Los Angeles.

“Please don’t expect too much,” Kimbrough jokes. “It’s been a long time and I’m really rusty!”

Specific performances of “Tartuffe” include a matinee on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 11:30 a.m., evening performances Wednesday through Friday, Nov. 20-22 at 7:30 p.m., and a matinee on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 2:30 p.m. All performances run approximately two hours, all seats are $5.

Tickets are available at the Theatre Office at 121 Seretean Center for the Performing Arts or at the Vivia Locke Theatre Box Office (in the Seretean Center), which is open from noon – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during the week of the show, and one hour before each show. Bursar may be used only during daytime box office hours Monday through Friday; cash and checks accepted at all times (no credit cards). Call the Box Office at (405) 744-6094 for information or to make reservations.

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