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The Miser
About Molière

Next Best Thing productions - Molière

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JEAN-BAPTISTE POQUELIN, born in Paris in 1622, was the son of the King Louis XIII's furniture supplier, but his destiny lay a world away from upholstering the chairs of the Bourbon regime. At the age of twenty-one he established his own theatre company with a gang of friends, hiring a converted indoor tennis court in Paris to perform the popular tragedies of the day and adopting the pseudonym Molière as it was the custom to appear on stage under an assumed name. The endeavour was a financial disaster but the experience led him to join a troupe of travelling players and he toured the provinces from 1645 to 1658, where he honed his talents for acting, directing and later writing. On his return to Paris he was the effective leader of the troupe and they soon received the patronage of the young Louis XIV with the use of the Theatre du Petit-Bourbon. Molière's success lay in his synthesis of the comic traditions he had grown up with: the high comedy of Corneille, the Roman farces of Plautus and Terence and the Italian commedia dell'arte. The 30 comedies he composed after his return to Paris reveal a writer with a profound understanding of the incongruities of everyday life, each exuberant and hilarious with a hint of the tragic. Whether dealing with the conflicts between husbands and wives (L'Ecole des femmes - 1662), master and servant (Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme - 1660) or professional and domestic life (Le Tartuffe - 1664), he was unwavering in his delight of the absurd and his ear for sharp dialogue. Molière died aged only 51, just hours after appearing on stage, of consumption, the early symptoms of which he wrote into L'Avare (1668) where he played the lead character with a comedy hacking cough. A major influence on generations of dramatists from Wycherley to Gogol and Feydeau, he remains France 's most popular playwright.


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