A Slippery, Seductive Swindler

False gurus get their comeuppance in Seattle Shakespeare Company’s production of Molière’s Tartuffe directed by Makaela Pollock.  Translated by Richard Wilbur, Tartuffe runs at the Center Theatre March 17-April 12, 2015.

In Tartuffe Orgon’s household is under the influence of a seductive swindler named Tartuffe. This cunning con artist, masquerading as a holy man, plans to dupe the gullible Orgon out of his fortune, his daughter, and his reputation. The pious grifter can do no wrong in his host’s eyes, yet everyone else in the household smells a rat. Just when the jig is up, Tartuffe ups the stakes and the charm.

“Can you trust the people around you? How do you know who they are? Who they purport to be?  And that applies to families as well as religious leaders,” said director Makaela Pollock when discussing Tartuffe.  “As I started looking at the play, I remembered that there is this moment around the late 1940s where everyone is searching for the next thing to believe in.” During this time L. Ron Hubbard first circulated his beliefs in Dianetics and Scientology, the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were formulated, and the first UFO sightings were reported. Pollock and her design team have reset Tartuffe in 1947 and Orgon falls under the influence of huckster who has fabricated his own religion. “The people in the play have wealth and are coming out the confidence and swagger of winning World War II, but they’re also sitting at that fearful moment of ‘what do we do next?’ that sparked the fear-mongering of McCarthyism.”

Pollock directed Seattle Shakespeare Company’s 2012 Wooden O production of Twelfth Night. She recently staged The Addams Family in Coeur d’Alene.  She is an adjunct faculty member of Cornish College of the Arts, and a graduate of the Trinity Rep/Brown University MFA Program in Directing. She currently is the New Works Associate at The 5th Avenue Theatre.

Hamilton Wright (Pygmalion) returns to Seattle Shakespeare Company to play the title role in Tartuffe. He joined by Peter Lohnes as Orgon, Christine Marie Brown (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Elmire, Bhama Roget as Dorine, and Suzy Hunt as Madame Pernelle.

With this production of Tartuffe, Molière becomes Seattle Shakespeare Company’s second most produced playwright.

Auditions for Wooden O 2015 Productions

George Mount, Christopher Morson, and Kevin Bordi
George Mount, Christopher Morson, and Kevin Bordi

Seattle Shakespeare Company will hold general auditions on Monday, February 23 from 4PM to 11PM and Monday, March 2 from 8:30AM to 4PM for its two Wooden O summer 2015 productions: As You Like It directed by Annie Lareau and Henry IV part 1 directed by George Mount.

Please email casting to schedule an available slot. To solicit a time for this audition please include a headshot and resume in your email message.

Where: 3317 3rd Ave. South, Seattle, 98134 (between Horton and Hinds near Spokane St in the SoDo district).

Audition requirements: Please bring a hard copy of your headshot/resume.  We will schedule auditions in 3-minute time periods. Please prepare two heightened text pieces (90-second maximum per piece), and at least one of them should be by Shakespeare. The second piece will only be seen at the auditors’ request, so please be ready but don’t assume that both pieces will asked to be heard.

Call-backs for both shows will be held in March. You WILL NOT be notified if we do not need to see you for any further for consideration this summer.

Please Note: Rehearsals for both shows start June 8, 2015. The shows rehearse weekday evenings and during the day on weekends. The Seattle area performance dates for both productions are July 9 through August 9.  As You Like It will perform in Walla Walla for a week and close on August 16.


Schedule Audition


Twelves Sale – All Tickets $12

HAWKS 12s Promo

Seattle Shakespeare Company is pumped up for the Super Bowl on Sunday and hope you are too! To celebrate we’re holding a “Twelves Sale.”

For 12 hours only (noon to midnight Jan 30, 2015) you can purchase adult tickets to Measure for Measure, Tartuffe or Othello for just $12 each. It’s a steal!

Use the code TWELVES when ordering online.

Remember, this sale shuts down at midnight tonight and is limited to 4 tickets per order, so act fast. Go Hawks!

Purchase Tickets

Casting News: Othello

Our April/May performances of Othello are still months away, but we’re thrilled to announce the actors who will join us for the production directed by John Langs.

Sean Phillips and Hillary Clemens will make their Seattle Shakespeare Company debuts in the roles of Othello and Desdemona. Also making her debut in the role of Bianca is Keiko Green.

Several Seattle Shakespeare Company veterans will round out the cast including: Trick Danneker (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pygmalion) as Roderigo, Quinn Franzen (The Importance of Being Earnest) as Michael Cassio, Ray Gonzalez (As You Like It, Twelfth Night) as Montano, Darragh Kennan (Waiting for Godot, Antony and Cleopatra) as Iago, and Alexandra Tavares (The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing) as Emilia.

Update: David Anthony Lewis (Measure for Measure) has joined the cast in the role of the Duke.

Several members of the Othello creative team have worked with director John Langs on previous productions and reassemble for this show: Jennifer Zeyle (set design), Kimberley Newton (costume design), Geoffrey Korf (light design), Robertson Witmer (sound design), Robin Macartney (prop design).

Othello concludes Seattle Shakespeare Company’s indoor season and will play at the Cornish Playhouse April 29 through May 17.

On the Frailty of Human Nature in “Measure for Measure”

David Anthony Lewis and Cindy Im
David Anthony Lewis and Cindy Im

The Atlantic is currently running a series in which selected authors share and discuss their favorite passages in literature. Linguist and cognitive scientist Steven Pinker chose to discuss a passage from Measure for Measure that served as an epigraph to a chapter called in Inner Demons in his book The Better Angels of Our Nature.

            But man, proud man
Drest in a little brief authority
Most ignoratnt of what he’s most assur’d’
His glassy essence, like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven,
As make the angels weep

Pinker takes apart the passage line by line to probe how Shakespeare (much like a modern psychologist) captures the flaws of human behavior, yet does it with such poetry.

This particular paragraph of Pinker’s caught my attention given the atrocities we’ve been hearing about in the news lately:

History is replete with Angelos. If you were to add up the number of killings by people in pursuit of what they think are moral aims, whether it’s personal vengeance, implementing justice, or hastening a utopia or messianic age, the body count would surely be higher than the victims of amoral predation and exploitation.

Pinker’s exploration is worth the read if only to be reminded how Shakespeare, again and again, is a writer for all ages.


Read the Article