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Moliere House of Monkeys

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We all need to laugh, and what better model for discovering our own grace for laughter than a man who relished laughter and comedy in his work above all else?

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Bring the life and work of Moliere to your audience

Molierecovnew

Read the opening scenes of “House of Monkeys” on line at Smashwords Download the full, two act play for FREE thru August 13.

Like most of Moliere’s work, the script is written in rhymed couplets. The three monkeys are the primary musical performers who dance and sing to 14 songs throughout the play.

The play features scenes from many of Moliere’s plays including, Tartuffe, A School for Wives, The Ridiculous Young Ladies, The Impromptu at Versailles, and The Imaginary Invalid.

Performance time: The play runs for an hour and forty minutes in two acts.

Cast: The minimum cast is for 16 actors. 8 men and 8 women with some doubling and depending on how the roles of the three monkeys are cast. More actors can be added for crowd and ceremony scenes.

The script is 102 pages formatted on 8 x 11.5 paper, printed on one side.

What is being Playful?

People often wonder what meeting one’s playful self is all about. The story below is like a Biblical parable about playfulness.

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

“During the final days at Denver’s old Stapleton airport, a crowded United flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk. He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, “I HAVE to be on this flight and it has to be first class.”

The agent replied, “I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these folks first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.”

The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, “Do you have any idea who I am?” Without hesitating, the gate agent smiled and grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention please?” she began, her voice bellowing throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at the gate WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to the gate.”

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the United agent, gritted his teeth and swore, “F**k you.” Without flinching, she smiled and said, “I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to stand in line for that, too.”

The man retreated as the people in the terminal applauded loudly. Although the flight was cancelled and people were late, they were no longer angry at United.”

Playfulness is exemplified here as the ability to hold one’s presence and levity even in the most stressful and confrontational situations. The ticket agent’s impromptu  reaction was little less than miraculous in diffusing the negativity of life with a wisp of spontaneous playfulness.

Meet Your Playful Self

A Valentine – the Death of Moliere and Madeliene

The French playwright, Moliere, worked heart and hand with Madeleine Bejart through all of their years of laughter, struggle, and tears. They died on the same day: February 17 – one year apart. Madeliene died on that day in 1672. Moliere died on that day in 1673.

The day of their death is just one of the many coincidences of time and place that are woven through the House of Monkeys. On the day after the death of Madeliene, Moliere brings the audience into the costume shop where the dresses and sashes they wore on the stage are stored. He hears the words spoken by his dearest Madeliene, as he touches the fabric and is haunted with the scent of time passed.

back5

Scene 4

(Enter Moliere alone. He is in the costume shop of the theatre. He opens the door of the costume closet to reveal the dresses in storage. He lifts the arm of the dress we recognize as the one Madeleine wore in the earlier scene; the dress he hid beneath to avoid arrest. He lifts the arm and smells the scent.)

Moliere

You know a trick that I might vanish in air?

Voice of Madeleine

Yes. An old comic trick. Hide you here under my skirts
Where you will act the part of pleats and inserts.

(Moliere laughs)

Moliere

(He moves to the table which was used in the seduction scene of “Tartuffe”)

Voice of Madeleine as Elmire
Pull up this table, and get under it.

Moliere as Orgon
(Aloud)

What?

(Voice of Madeleine as Elmire)

It is essential that you be well hidden.

Moliere

Just one year ago to the day we…
(He laughs and then coughs violently and sits heavily in chair at the table. Throwing himself into his chair)
Ah! I am done for. It is enough to kill me!

Armande
(Entering)

Is that you?…

Moliere

…It is I. (coughs) It is me.

Armande

We are waiting your word to cancel tonight’s play.

Read and download the full play “House of Monkeys” on Smashwords

Moliere – Allah and the Koran

Most who know of Moliere and his work, also know of the plague of woe that visited him with his satire of the Catholic Church and Christian reverence found in the one of his most known works, the play “Tartuffe”. Far fewer people know of his satire of the Muslim religion found in the play”The Bourgeouis Gentleman”, and armed with the repercussions brought by any perceived slight of AllahAllah or the Koran in recent history, the satire of Moliere in the Turkish Ceremonies in “The Bourgeouis Gentleman”, might well call for his death, if he were alive.

Unlike “Tartuffe” , “The Bourgeouis Gentlemen, was a collaboration written only in part by Moliere, Lully composed the music, Quinault the lyrics, and Corneille the bulk of the dialogue.

The play is nothing new, it was first presented before the royal person on October of 1670 and is discussed here with interest as to how the comic satire is viewed today.

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme is a five-act comédie-ballet—a play intermingled with music, dance and singing—by Molière, first presented on 14 October 1670 before the court of Louis XIV at the Château of Chambord by Molière’s troupe of actors.

The video is in a loose version of French, and the English translation is below the video.

The edited translation is from Albert Bermel from the publication The Doctor in Spite of Himself and The Bourgeois Gentlemen

The Fourth Interlude consists of a “Turkish” ceremony of music and dance.

Six Turks enter in pairs, dancing solemnly to the accompaniment of instruments. They carry very long carpets to which they execute dance movements. The Turks lay their carptes on the ground and kneel on them. They prostrate themselves as they chant “Ali” [The name of Mohomet's son-in-law]. They rise chanting “Allah” alternating the two names, knelling and rising until the end of the invocation, when they all stand and chant, “Allah ekber [Great is God]”

MUFTI
If you know,
say so,
If you know not,
say naught.
Mufti am I,
very high.
You understand not?
Say naught.
Answer, Turks, is this man a
true believer? Or an Ana-
Baptist?

TURKS
No.

MUFTI
A Zwinglist?

TURKS
No.

The questioning continues as heard on the sound track. Then on further.

MUFTI
To Mohamet night and day
To Jourdaina I will pray.
I will make a paladaina.

TURKS
Hey Valla!
Yes, by Allah!
Yes, by Allah!
Hey Valla!

Later on in the ballet

The Mufti re-enters wearing an enormous ceremonial turban with four or five rows of lighted candles on top. Two Dervishes escort him. They carry the Koran. They make Monsieur Jordain kneel. Then forcing him to lean forward on his hands, the place the Koran on his back to serve as the Mufti’s lectern.

“House of Monkeys” Composer Bill Neil in Italy

Visit Bill Neil’s web site to see, hear, and experience what the muse had to offer on his travels to Italy

1-venice-maze1

I recently traveled to Italy for a premiere of “Notte dei Cristalli” in Padova. As I traveled I recorded some images that focused on one or two themes. I shared my images with architect Gregory Splinter. He then created some very interesting intuitive designs that in turn inspired some digital sound creativity on my part. Where is this all headed? Well, a future Project FourthStream performances will I present new compositions inspired by these images and Gregory’s words!
3-circo-massimo Transcend.

Transcend ourselves

beyond the encumbrances

of our own thoughts,

of our own agendas,

of our own concerns.

Allow the eternal truths to enter,

to be discerned by all.

See and hear more of Bill’s journey on his web site

Theatre CLOSED

The “Wicked Comedy Tartuffe”

After over four years of controversy, emotional upheaval, and financial strife for Moliere. and before the script for “Tartuffe” was available to the public – the play was finally allowed a public performance on Friday August 5, 1667.

The following morning Moliere received notice that the play Ark_close3was prohibit any further public performance. Guards were placed at the doors of the theatre, posters were torn down, and the theatre was closed.

A closed theatre

My (Our) theatre closed back in 1990. It was the Ark Improvisational Theatre (pictured right) that gave rise to the careers of Chris Farley and Joan Cusack. It closed as we were in the midst of producing Moliere’s “The Miser”. The emotional and financial upheaval did not result from the opposition of the church, but I know the feeling of loss in a deep and personal way, and have revisited those feelings of doubt that led to the end of the ARK as I wrote the scene for “House of Monkeys” when Moliere’s own theatre was locked and closed.

Moliere had already reworked the play “Tartuffe” several times to address the concerns of the masonic and secret organization “Saint Sacrament”. He changed the title of the play from “Tartuffe” to “Imposture”. He changed the final act of the play to make it clear that this play, like previous works that proceeded it, was not an attack on religiosity but a satire of human hypocrisy, and no different in it’s comedic intent than any other of his previous plays – all to no avail. The King, who leaned in support of the play against the strong and powerful arm of the Catholic Church, was distracted and out of Paris dealing with a campaign in Flanders and unable to focus attention on the plight of the struggling company of actors.

For Moliere, “Tartuffe” had become the symbol of the freedom and dignity of his profession. For the first time in his twenty-eight years his theatre had been closed. To all appearances, Moliere had been driven from the stage, and Paris laughed no longer.

Once the King returned to Paris, and after many visits of Moliere and company to Versailles, and after the play had been rewritten a third time – “Tartuffe” was finally, once again, licensed for public performance, seven years after it was written, and opened on February 9, 1669.

“Tartuffe” and “House of Monkeys”

The second act of “House of Monkeys” opens with Moliere seated alone on a prop throne, dressed as Tartuffe, and captures the dark mood of the time in a “dream play”. The three monkeys, who have been playful narrators of the action in Act I, have changed their persona to become shadows of temptation of doubt – the scourge that Moliere defines in one of his most popular quotes: “Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths” – have come in the presence of ghostly monkeys to threaten his career.

Copyright 2012 by Dennis Kern – House of Monkeys

ACT 2

Scene 1

(The stage is dark. All is quiet. Finally, a white spotlight slowly fades in to illuminate
Moliere who is seated on a prop throne in his theatre. Next to him, sitting in his exact
position, is Monkey #1 who sits to his right as a mirror image. Moliere crosses his legs
with his hand beneath his chin in a pensive pose. The monkey mimicks him in unison.
Moliere coughs harshly – the monkey mimicks him. Moliere rises and moves to the right
of the throne looking up. The monkey mirrors the move in unison. A door and foot steps
are heard as someone approaches in the dark.)

Moliere & Monkey 1

(As he speaks Monkey 1 mouths the words silently)

Who is it? Who’s there?

(Madeleine enters from stage left. She is followed by Monkey #2 who follows just behind
in a mirror image of her movement, and mouths her words as she speaks)

Madeleine & Monkey 2

It is damp and cold in here.
Why are you sitting here in the dark?
Dressed as an actor to play a part?

Moliere & Monkey 1

Do you see how I am dressed as Tartuffe?
The man I created to play a spoof
Seems now how his joke is on me
And brings disgrace to my work and family.
Victory is in the hands of all those
Working our ruin, the theatre is closed.
(He coughs)

Madeleine & Monkey 2

Here you are alone, I can see your breath
Please leave this play or you’ll catch your death.

Moliere & Monkey 1

My death? Do you not see how it plays its part
Sucking laughter and joy and leaving the dark?
In all of our lives, this is the saddest of days
With lines rehearsed and with no stage to play.

Madeleine & Monkey 2

Come, come, we have been here before
Hiding in skirts with the wolves at the door.
Here we’re reflected in the very same mirror.
(A door closes again followed by foot steps)
Now what’s the occasion? Who’s coming here?

Armande & Monkey 3
(Armande enters. She is followed and mimicked by Monkey #3 in each action)

La Grange, said this is where you might be.
The lack of light makes it hard to see.

Madeleine & Monkey 2

Yes.

Moliere & Monkey 1

Tis, so.

Armande & Monkey 3

Brrr, it is cold…

Moliere & Monkey 1

…dark and hollow

Madeleine & Monkey 2

Almost spooky.

Armande & Monkey 3

As though we are watched….

Moliere & Monkey 1

…or followed….

Madeleine & Monkey 2

Lost on a stage…

Moliere & Monkey 1

…doors locked

Armande & Monkey 3

… that is a fact.

Madelene & Monkey 1

Do you feel it, or…

Armande & Monkey 3

…Shhh. Now I feel it too

(Now Monkey #1 speaks aloud and Moliere mirrors the mouths the words as the monkey
speaks.)

Monkey 1

(Alone. Stepping forward)

…like a monkey on our back.

(Moliere and company are left in the dark as the spot follows the three monkeys)

Monkey 1

(continuing alone)

Dispell the dreary
Mocking mirrory

Monkey 2

Let there be light
So that we might

Monkey 3

Shed a bit of it
As beams of wit

Monkey 1, 2, & 3

On this quandary.
Let us leave this foundry

Monkey 3

Of fear and fuss,
Making such muss.

Monkey 2

Seems here is a poet
Who does not know it

Monkey 1

As the answer lies
Before his eyes

Monkey 1, 2, & 3

Mortals often hide
The answer inside
Monkeys often show
What they already know
By making a dream
Of foretelling hints and signs
Hidden between the lines

Survey MONKEY – Moliere

Have you seen or heard about the surveys you can construct online?

The site is called Survey MONKEY,moliere young and when I saw it I just had to go there to create a quiz for “House of Monkeys”. Just for fun see if you can answer the ten questions about Moliere. Some of the questions have more than one correct answer.

I will post the “correct” answers in the next few days. Have fun!

You can comment about your experience in the “comment” box below.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

A scandal in common for Moliere and Woody Allen

Besides sharing a comic genious…What else?

It was 20 years ago that Woody Allen was accused of having sexual relations with his adopted daughter Soon-Yi Previn. What would play out in the media would shock the world and go down in history as one of the biggest celebrity scandals of all time.” The odds were againstMolwood a relationship between a 56-year-old man and the 21-year-old daughter of his longtime girlfriend surviving. But lo and behold, Woody and Soon-Yi are still together after two decades.

On January 23 of 1662 Moliere at the age of 40 married Armande Bejart age 24 at the house of his life long friend with possible benefits, Madeliene Bejart. It was an event that generated scandalized uproar throughout Parisian society (for it was widely rumored that Molière was Armande’s father).

“Armande’s parentage is doubtful: Was she the daughter of Joseph Béjart, an improvident jack-of-all-trades, and his wife, Marie, or was she an illegitimate child of Madeleine’s, and the subject of a cover-up, in which case her father could have been Molière or another of Madeleine’s lovers, a certain Comte de Modène? At the time of the marriage, Molière’s enemies, of whom there were many, since by then he was famous at court and had Louis XIV as his patron, did not hesitate to accuse him of incest.” N.Y. Books

The accusations grew out of the storm surrounding the fate of his satirical play of religious hypocrisy “Tartuffe”, and the rumors of incest served as fresh fuel for the fire. Moliere never addressed the controversy in public except through hints and rhymes of his plays.

House of Monkeys

The question arises in a scene set on the stage of his locked theatre in “House of Monkeys”:

Madeleine

What of the gossip? The stories about?
That my sister is my daughter, will the truth come out?
Will you make a public reply?

Moliere

No answer can untie a thrice told lie.
Best leave it for we three to know
The fact of truth, and let it go.

Armande

Dear sister, come, take my hand
Dear husband touch our wedding band
We three know the weavings of love for us
There is no truth but the one we trust
(To Moliere) I am not your child, as many will accuse
(To Madeleine) I am your sister and shall never lose
The binding of our love and care for one another
You as husband, you as sister of one mother.
Let the world sift, shift, conjecture and sigh,
It is too hard a knot for us to untie.

(The sound of laughter and voices are heard as the company arrives with food, drink,
and musicians)

Doubts are more cruel than the worst of truths. #Moliere

Who is buried in Moliere’s tomb?

Of course, the answer should be obvious. grave2It is a “trick question” much like the one American school children have asked for years: “Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?”, to which the obvious, but often overlooked answer is, “Grant” .

In the case of Moliere the the question is a double or even triple trick, for the obvious answer to the question should be: “Moliere”. However, this answer may not be true at all. No conclusive evidence can confirm that the remains of the famous French playwright are held in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. Moliere’s grave may be at work to continue the farcical, ironic, and satirical spirit of Moliere to the thousands who look upon the tomb and lay a wreath on the resting place of bones extracted from some unfortunate victim of a still birth or suicide. Somewhere in the comic mist and muse the Playwright looks down with the thought, “He who laughs last, laughs best”.

 

Moliere has been the subject to controversy, heresy, and political obfuscation in death as in life.
Molière, the shape-shifter extraordinaire of the seventeenth century had become by the late eighteenth century an icon of tremendous political value, as has Camus in our own day. Politicians will always need writers more than writers need politicians, which may go a long way in explaining the motives of both members of revolutions and presidents of republics. And as for the whereabouts of the “august debris” of the illustrious playwright? Lodged quite nicely, thank you, in Paris’s Père Lachaise cemetery. At least for the time being.
Humanities

The “Humanities” article seems to speak with confidence that the “august debris” of Moliere lie beneath the concrete block, but with little reason. The death of Moliere and controversy of his funeral arrangements were riddled with scandal, confusion, and even riots in the streets.

The “august debris” of Moliere that were thought to be Moliere when the body was exhumed, stored, and carted about Paris after the French Revolution before being interred at Pere Lachaise, may have been some other bones all together.

 

The scandal raised by Moliere unburied was as nothing, however, compared with the scandal that grew upon is tomb. An obstinate tradition, supported by the memory of an aged sexton, affirms that Moliere was not buried, as the correspondent of the Abbe Boyvin affirmed “at the foot of the cross,” but a more remote portion of the cemetrary – in other words, in the portion reserved for suicides, stillbirths, ans other poor bodies who had lost or never found their souls”.
“Moliere” John Palmer 1970

The final scene

In the final scene of “House of Monkeys” the three monkeys search for the grave of Moliere:

Copyright 2012 by Dennis Kern – House of Monkeys

(Bells toll as the light of three lanterns appear in the dark. As the light fades up we see
the monkeys holding up the lanterns and searching the ground.)

Monkey 1

Where is the plot that ends this play?
Somewhere here where the still born lay?
(reading inscription)
Moliere, loses the effect of Baptism, it reads
He’s buried as a deviant for his deeds.

Monkey 2

Wait. Look here is another inscription.

(reading)
They’re off! and I have little expectation
To see them again. Despite all our efforts
For a long time, to all appearance
Terence and Plautus and Moliere died

Monkey 3

But which is true? How do we end?
People are waiting and now depend
On us to deliver an uplifting homily.
After all, this is a play of comedy.

Monkey 1

Do you not see it? Standing on the grave
We need but ask how he might behave.
His body is lost. It is the final riddle
We are here searching smack in the middle.

Monkey 2

Looking for a body of all things
While the missing Moliere sings,
His words of truth unmasking folly
In the end it is clear. He fooled us by golly

Monkey 3

Moliere will not be found in a grave
But in every laugh and giggle he gave
To people over the course of time
We end as we started. Now, join in the rhyme

Monkey 1, 2. & 3

HA HA – HO HO – HEE HEE
We are the monkeys three.
HA HA – HO HO – HEE HEE
We are the monkeys
We are the monkeys
We are the monkeys three!
Come out now. Come all
Here is the curtain call

(The cast begins to come on stage for the curtain call)

Monkey 2

All players come take a bow
For you part in the play ending now.

Monkey 1

Just as so many others have shared
The joy and laughter of one Moliere.

(After the Monkeys take a bow. They retreat to back stage and assume their places on the
column. As the curtain call ends the lights go down to reveal the column on the scrim as
in the beginning of the play. The sound of laughter that was heard at the beginning, is
heard once again echoing through the house as the audience leaves the theatre.)

Premier House of Monkeys!
Learn more on the “House of Monkeys” web site

“Moliere” a funny way to choose a stage name

Jean Poquelin IV chose a stage name, which was a common practice. He chose “Moliere” and no one knows why, but probably to spare his father the embarrassment of having an actor in the family?

The word “mulier” is suggested to be a possible etymology of Moliere, but why would Moliere evolve the word into his stage name? “Mulier” comes from Latin meaning “woman””

A problem for a scholar is often a gift to a playwright. When no valid or studied reason for the choice of the stage name “Moliere” can be offered in research, the door to the imagination flings open Finding Moliere
What follows is the scene from “House of Monkeys” in which the document bearing the name Moliere is presented and explained.

Madaliene’s Mother is highly skeptical of this Jean Polquelin’s interest in her daughter, and means to end the affair which threatens to upend her family.

Mother Bejart

Oh, I know a bird when it is a crow.
No. No. I have heard more than enough
Tis time for Mother’s love to turn tough.
Sir, I question your stated desire to marry
Your intention is a trick from the land of a fairy.
You will follow your father as Tapissier to the King
I doubt you would dane to give up such a thing,
And chose the stage of an excommunicant
Denied of sacraments and holy internment
To become an actor of such lowly grace
When, in truth, you aspire to a loftier place.
Further, my daughter is already a mother
She holds a daughter who was the seed of another
So, it is clear to me, as the nose on my face
Your love of Madeleine will lead to disgrace.

Madeleine

The nose on your face, Mother, if you please,
Has run long enough in this angry sneeze.
If you would take just a moment wipe it dry,
To find a running nose is beneath your eye,
Which does not see the nose below.
Perception has shifted in one big blow.
Your nose does smell, but does not see.
My nose, knows – you do not see me.

Moliere

Lest we juxtapose the parts of the face
Moving all parts in a senseless place.
Your fears and worries of my real intent
Can be clearly proven in this document.

Mother Bejart

What is this paper of so much adieu?

Moliere

My release of duties as Tapissier du roi.

Mother Begart

What? Let me see the words struck here
“He shall receive the sum of 630 livres”.
Well, that is good money no doubt that,
Let me see further, I still smell a rat.
The decree is official with all seals attached
But here at the bottom, your name’s not matched;
Jean Polquein IV is not signed here
The name at the bottom is signed Moliere.

Moliere

Jean and Moliere are now one in the same
This change of life befit’s a new name.
Henceforth, Moliere is the name I bear
What’s more, the money is mine to share.
This day we invite to all we see here
To the formation or our Illustrious Theatre

Madeleine

Now, dear Mother are you satisfied at that?
Can you embrace Moliere or do you still smell a rat?
Are there yet crossed “t’s” lacking there?

Mother Bejart

Well… I… come here dear son Moliere!
Your change of name seems well fit
But, why chose Moliere, how came you by it?
(Moliere and Madeleine join in an embarrassed laugh)

Madeleine

Oh there are such things only lovers may know
Just say it arrived of late night, and let that go.

Mother Bejart

Well said….

Moliere

…and on that note, we leave this score
And on to the music, and dancing and more.
For I have taken the liberty preparing
A celebration of food and wine for sharing
With any and all you know here and there
The Illustrious Theatre and the name Moliere!
(A wagon is pulled in loaded with food, and drink as the celebration begins with people
entering from right and left until a crowd fills the stage and music fills the air. The
monkeys appear center in front of it all, eating a drinking merrily)
Copyright 2012 by Dennis

Premier House of Monkeys!
Learn more on the “House of Monkeys” web site

The Arrest of Moliere

The arrest is under duress from beneath a dress

Footscript
Just one year after Moliere launched his first theatrical adventure, The Illustrious Theatre, he was arrested for non-payment of debt at the ripe age of 21 in 1643.

The charges are read in the play “House of Monkeys”:

The Illustrious Theatre is owing Sieur Baulot 600 livres
And 1,100 more for draping, and other debt listed here.
You being the signer of all libel in this matter before us today
Shall be locked up as the debtors demand, or until you pay.
(Moliere is lead off by the Ballif)

His arrest and the debt facing him served as a basis for the disappearance and the “missing years” of the Playwright in the 2007 film “Moliere”. In fact he spent very little, if any time, locked up in the confines of the Newgate of Paris, the Chatelet. No one knows the specifics or the “when, where, or how” of actual arrest of Moliere, but what follows is the scene from “House of Monkeys” – one of the most hilarious “comic tricks” of play.

(Enter Madeleine)
Madeleine

 

This is the final curtain, and you should know
The Master Chandler demands payment of all money owed.
Officers are dispatched and have been seen on the road
To arrest the one who has signed to be libel to pay…

(Enter Moliere)
Moliere

(Long pause as Moliere takes in the grim and fearful faces staring at him)

To look at your faces, this is not your best day.
Denys, Joseph, Catherine, Marie, Mother Bejart
Madeleine, and all who have given your heart
To ring up the curtain at a given hour,
Regardless of any altercation’s power.
All for one and one for all is what we play
That we may pass through the portal and say
But a few lines, just words, to oft empty chairs.
Why? Why do we act words as prayers
Though they fall on a dark empty space?
Our pockets empty, our status disgrace;
We will not be buried on blessed holy ground
Since, our heaven it seems on earth we have found.
All this is all quite new and glorious to me
In you there is magic, I thought could not be.
The troubling things now happening here
Are but cast in this place and this year,
But have little to do with the full play at hand.
We are not now at the final act of our grand
Performance nor will I take bows for such.
The muse will go forth with it’s fairy touch,
Weaving and winding the love that is us
Into a scene, a play, dance at red dusk;
The promise to sailors to sleep with delight
For tomorrow we sail on soft seas and might
Reach the place on the distant shore
For treasures of love gifts of speeches and more.

Madeleine

But look, an officer approaches the door!
All leave us now, he will find nothing more
Then just I alone acting without a care.

Moliere

You know a trick that I might vanish in air?

Madeleine

Yes. An old comic trick. Hide you here under my skirts
Where you will act the part of pleats and inserts.
(Moliere hides beneath her dress, in a nick of time before the Officer enters)

Monsieur Loyal
(Tartuffe Act V Scene 4 Richard Wilbur translation)

Loyal’s my name; I come from Normandy,
And I’m a ballif, in all modesty.
For forty years, praise God, it’s been my boast
To serve with honor in that vital post
And I am here today, if you will permit
The liberty. To serve you with this writ.
(Moliere peeks out from beneath the dress so he can be seen by the audience but not the
Officer)

Moliere

I remember this man, things are all turned outwards,
Has he has come to arrest me, while speaking my words?
(Madeleine tucks him back beneath her skirts roughly)

Monsieur Loyal

Did you say something Madame, you speech was not clear
The tone was laced and muffled in ways quite queer.

Madeleine

Yes, well, you see I have this tickle and cough today
That misshapen my words in a peculiar way.

Monsieur Loyal
(As he enters the room moving center)

Ah, sounds quite serious, but as to why I am here
I have come to serve writ and arrest one Monsieur Moliere.
(Madalene follows him with difficulty as she shuffles as best she can)

Monsieur Loyal

Has your tickle of throat effected legs as well?

Madeleine

What? Yes! Oh, yes. Seems it has caused my thighs to swell.
(Moliere sneezes from beneath the skirts)

(Sneezing to cover the sound beneath)

Achoo! ha choo! It’s plain to see I’m affected.
I should see a Doctor and have this corrected.

Monsieur Loyal

So happens my father held that degree
Much knowledge of which passed to me.
I suspect I might help, all it takes is a look;
If you would please come here and show your foot.

Madeleine

My foot? Well, what good luck for me
Such educated and arresting company

.
(Madeleine struggles to find a foot to place on his knee. After some shifting Moliere puts
his leg our from beneath the dress)

Monsieur Loyal

Oh my. Oh dear.

Madeleine

….it is much larger then last I looked there
It appears as that of a man…
Monsieur Loyal
….fully covered in hair.
(Loyal ruffles and dives beneath the skirt as Moliere and he ruffle her skits in chase)

Madeleine

Ah! Eeek! Come out all of you. My garters and stars!
Lord knows what you’ll find in the place where you are!
(They come out and stand)

Monsieur Loyal

I must say in all my life, this is a first
To find my prey hidden in skirts.
Between legs and layers of all places
Enough said, to avoid uncomely disgraces.
You sir, are bound to come this day
To the Newgate of Paris, the Chatelet.

Moliere

It is your duty. I will follow. Lead the way.

Madeleine

One kiss, if that is not so much delay
Fear not, our plans for your freedom will not cease
We will find means and money to secure your release.
(Moliere and Loyal exit)
BLACKOUT

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Oyez, oyez, oyez

Off the streets to the stage. Impromptu MOLIERE

The performance of Moliere’s Impromptu of Versaille marks a little monkeyking2known but revolutionary moment in theatre history and the life of Moliere. For years the craft of improvisation was relegated to the streets and markets in the long tradition of the Commedia del Arte.

Then one day, Moliere’s company is called before the King and improvisation is brought on to the stage! The actors appear to be disinterested and unrehearsed in their parts. In fact, it is a set up. The actors have a script, which you can read Here. Moliere has created a performance taking place in the present reality, and in this moment we find Moliere’s company of actors living out the nightmare of finding themselves on stage without rehearsal or having learned their lines.

Moliere employs this shift of reality to expose and chide his detractors of the rival company of the Hotel de Bourgogne, the fat tragedian Montfleury and his hirling De Vise, who have accused him of marrying his own daughter.

In “House of Monkeys” the Impromptu is taken a step further as the scene becomes a play within a play, within a play. The Impromptu is performed as an argument of defense. A Monkey Trial has been convened to expose the arguments and accusations of the rival companies. The music of Bill Neil adds a “courtly” elegance to the proceedings as the words are sung in the style of an operetta

Copyright 2012 by Dennis Kern – House of Monkeys

Monkey King

(To Montflery and De Vise)

If matters are so well in hand as you say,
Why on earth are you here today?

Montfleury

With your influence and help; a righteous battle is won.
This menace to all that is holy and natural;
Mocking all, while turning lies factual
Disguising sin as comedy, evoking laughter
With your aid, the last laugh will be ours hereafter

Monkey King

Your righteous, holy leanings are taken in view
Now, Monkeys, it is your turn. What say you?

Monkey 1, 2, & 3

Holy Angels and by golly
Fire a load. a righteous volley

Monkey 3

Light the cannon, stir the flame
Tamp the load with powdered blame

Monkey 2

Fire at the count of three

Monkey 3

Expose the hidden treachery!

Monkey King

What can be new in the act of war
Can mortals not learn from wars before?
Monkeys care not who is right or wrong
Ours is only to play out the tune of the song.

Monkey 2

So fire a load and we will see
All with monkey certainty

Monkey 3

Since the age of Zeus or Apollo
The opposing volley will follow

Monkey 1

So, here it is, come what may
Next scene in the war we play.

Monkey 2

Now, let the accused have their say

Monkey 3

With rebuttal in form of a play.

Moliere

In answer to the gossip here floating about like fluff
We have prepared an answer, since we’ve had quite enough.
(Gesturing to the company to come forward)
If the actors and actresses will please take their cue,
Here is a rebuttal, that is played to interest you.
This scene of defense is called the “L’Impromptu de Versaillles”
We had little time, we are still rehearsing, but we give it a try.

Moliere

(Calling the company to the stage)
[Translation from L’Impromptu de Versailles”]

Come, ladies and gentlemen, why the delay?
Hurry. Are you coming? Plague take you people ! I say,
(Still the company remains where they are looking confused)
Brecourt !

Brecourt

What?

Moliere

La Grange !

La Grange

What is it?

Moliere

Du Croisy!

Du Croisy

You call?

Moliere

Come now All. All of you. All!
I think I shall go mad with these people. Listen! Hear what I say!
(But they ignore him and continue to talk among themselves)
Deuce take me ! Actors! Will you drive me out of my wits today?

Brecourt
(Finally coming forward)

We do not know our parts. What would you have us do?
We are about to be driven out of our wits by you!

Moliere

Oh, what an awkward team to drive you actors can be !

Madame Du Prac

What is your idea?

Madam Moliere (Armande)

What is to be done?

Madeleine

Well, here we are. You see?

Moliere

Since we are dressed, pray, let us take our positions;
Taking this time to answer the harsh inquisitions
Brought by our rivals Montfleury and De Vise.
They’ve tossed up bits of jealousy wrapped up in a lie.
Our play is not complete, we will do our best, at least.
Now, let us employ the time in rehearsing our piece,
And see how we are to play our parts as we go.

La Grange

How are we to play what we do not know?

Du Prac

As for my part, I declare that I do not remember a line.

Brecourt

I am sure I shall have to be prompted most all the time.

Mother Bejart

And I just mean to hold my script in my hand.

Madame Moliere

So do I.

Madeleine
(To Moliere)

It seems, you’ve no fear of tripping on words, pray why?
Since you have written the piece…

Moliere

Ah, nothing to fear you say?
When it is all on me to map out a way

To excite laughter in those who command respect?
You think it a trifle to find words to inject
Comedy, laughter, and light hearted dance,
As we are the object of disgrace through all of France?
Must not an author tremble to perform such a thing?

La Grange

What is your tact, to make good points to the King?

Moliere

We have no time now to…

Madame Moliere (Armande)

Just a word or two !

Moliere

Well, I have in mind a mimicry we could do.
A piece where a strolling company, has as actors
The very well known players, who have become our detractors.
In our play we play in turn, the actors of the Hotel Bourgougne
As our detractors are questioned to there talent as if they’re yet unknown.

Madame Moliere (Armande)

Oh, how they hate me. You’ve heard the nasty things they say.

Moliere

Shhh. Please we’ve no more time for that. Please, listen I pray?
The questioning goes, “Have these actors and actresses talent
Capable of doing justice in the eyes of the most gallant?”
“Oh, sir,” we comedians answer “No doubt when
The company have passed muster wherever they have been.”
Then question comes, “Who plays the King amongst you?”

Brecourt

Ah. Now I see that this is where we the fun begins. Tell us what we do.

Moliere

We answer, “Our King, by Jove full and fat”

Madame Bejart

Of course, we describe Monfleury in that.

Montfleury
(Breaking in)

I object at these words of hate!

Monkey King

Over ruled! Put down your objecting weight!

Moliere

“Our King is great – at least as big as any four men
We’ve as well a stuffed King as ever there’s been.
His massive presence in the provinces is well known
Remembered by his great mass that fills the throne.”

Montfleury

For that you will pay I swear!

Monkey King

Sit! Silence! (To De Vise) Now, hold him there!

Moliere
(Continuing)

Next question: “Let me hear how he speaks, a dozen lines,say”
La Grange, you answer by reciting in a most natural way.

La Grange

I might recite some lines of the king from a tragedy :
“I say, Araspus, he has too well served me,
Has raised my power …”

Moliere

Then I as a Marquis of wit and grace
Stop your speech, and take your place
Mimicking Montfluery, as an over blow King
I say, “Call you that reciting? You are joking.
You should say things with an emphasis. Listen, you’ll see.”
(He imitates Montfleury, of the hotel de Bourgogne).
“I say, Araspus, he has too well served me,
Has raised my power …” Do you see this attitude?

Madame Moliere

Ha! Here is the delivery that elicits applause of gratitude.
Observe that well. There, lay the proper stress on the last line.

Mother Bejart

Ha! How it receives warm approbation, every time.

Moliere

Then the question comes: “But sir, this actor he seems unnatural.
Would not a King answering a Captain speak in a way more factual?
He would hardly use such a demonical tone.”
We say, “Ah, our king occupies ears as he does his throne.”
“With the force of four voices, sitting in ear
He plops down his words to be felt in the rear.”

Montfluery

(Rushing toward the actors. He is held back by the monkeys)

Must I sit and listen to such abuse and mockery?

Mother Bejart

Take what you dish out of your abundant crockery.

Montfluery

(Breaking into the play. Once again the monkeys must contain him)

What! Woman, how dare you?

Monkey King

Order! Order in this court I say!

DeVise

I object! We will not be slandered in this way!

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