Students stage classic comedy with the help of famous names

Actors Christian Smith (Monsieur Loyal), Rhys Hayes (Cleante) and Pete Watts (Orgon) in the midst of rehearsal
6 Mar 2014 @ 12.26 pm
| News
Actors Christian Smith (Monsieur Loyal), Rhys Hayes (Cleante) and Pete Watts (Orgon) in the midst of rehearsal
Actors Christian Smith (Monsieur Loyal), Rhys Hayes (Cleante) and Pete Watts (Orgon) in the midst of rehearsal

Following the success of last term’s sold out performances of the Simon Stephens plays Punk Rock and Motortown, the final year students at the University of York have been hard at work on the very different area of early modern comedy.

The students are tackling a challenging 17th century French classic, Moliere’s Tartuffe as adapted by Ranjit Bolt, to be performed on Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8.

Tartuffe tells the story of an unwelcome guest who infiltrates a household with his pretence of overwhelming religious piety and completely upsets the family’s way of life.

If concerned by the term “student production” do not be fazed. The students of theatre, film and television have had workshops with the very best, from acclaimed playwright and University of York alumni Simon Stephens to professional theatre designer Jan Bee Brown and the actor Penelope Wilton.

Based on our sneak peek behind the scenes, without giving too much away, the Tartuffe set design is sure to astound.

If the department and company have yet to convince you, let Moliere’s classic writing do so. A controversial play, which criticised hypocrisy as well as gullibility, Tartuffe was banned for five years upon its initial release.

But let us take Tartuffe in more detail. The play’s eponymous charlatan possesses the shrewd ability to exploit and manipulate others by embodying a façade of religious zeal.

The play centres on the family’s arduous attempts to reveal to Orgon, the patriarch of the household, Tartuffe’s true nature as an impostor.

Their efforts however lead to a series of comic and unpredictable misfortunes that ultimately land the entire family in serious peril.

Having a classic such as Moliere’s Tartuffe performed in our city is definitely not an event to be missed and excitement is spreading around York in anticipation of what the students of TFTV will bring to this classic masterpiece.

This is an opportunity to see how historical context does not impact the ability of theatre to be relevant and timely, even 350 odd years after a play’s initial publication.


  • Tartuffe is at the Theatre, Film and Television Department on Heslington East Campus, York University on Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8, at 7.30pm and 2.30pm respectively
  • Tickets are priced at £8 (£5 for students)
  • More details on the Facebook page