The Imaginary Invalid

By Molière
Translated by John Wood

October 3-5 & 10-12 at 8 PM
October 6 & 13 at 2 PM
Trueblood Theatre

background | press release | program | designs | photographs

Background Information

MOLIÈRE (JEAN-BAPTISTE POQUELIN) (1622-1673) remains one of France's best known playwrights. Born in Paris, Molière's father was a prosperous merchant, but his mother died when he was 10. Following Jesuit school he briefly pursued a degree in law before choosing a career in theatre.

At the age of 21 Molière founded the Illustre Théätre with a group of friends. The company was never able to compete with established theatres in Paris, so eventually Molière joined an itinerant company led by the actor Charles Dufresne. The company received the patronage of the king's brother, which led to a command performance before Louis XIV in 1658. They performed Molière's own farce The Fleet-footed Doctor which amused the king so much that he granted Molière the use of a Paris theater.

Molière was best known for his "comédie-ballet" style. He created a skillful patterning of dialogue which is designed to enhance the typically intense physical presentation of the play. People also took notice of his choice of content - a satiric commentary on society that explores eternal human foibles and obsessions. Not surprisingly the plays had many detractors. His study of religious hypocrisy, Tartuffe, for example, was denounced by the church and proscribed by Parliament after its premiere in 1664. Revised twice, the ban was not lifted until 1669.

Molière's last play proved to be The Imaginary Invalid. During the fourth performance Molière, ironically playing the hypochondriac Argan, was seized with a genuine coughing fit and died later that night.

Press Release

ANN ARBOR - The University of Michigan Department of Theatre and Drama opens the 2002-2003 University Productions season with Molière's outrageous satire The Imaginary Invalid. The show runs October 3-5 and 10-12, 8:00 p.m., and October 6 and 13, 2:00 p.m., at the Trueblood Theatre in Ann Arbor. The farcical tale of a hypochondriac who is willing to marry off his daughter to a physician to ensure himself a lifetime of medical treatments, the play is directed by Theatre Department faculty member Malcolm Tulip, who directed the Department of Theatre and Drama's The Good Person of Szechwan last season.

Ticket prices are $15 general admission with students only $8 with ID. Tickets are available at the League Ticket Office, located within the Michigan League on UM Central Campus. The Ticket Office is open from 10am-6pm, Monday through Friday and 10am-1pm on Saturday. Order by phone at (734) 764-2538. All major credit cards are accepted. The Trueblood Theatre is located within the Frieze Building at 105 S. State Street in Ann Arbor.

A brilliant and satirical look at the medical profession, The Imaginary Invalid offers social commentary that is as timely today as it was when the play premiered nearly 330 years ago. As Argan (the "invalid")'s financial circumstances collapse under the weight of excessive medical bills, made by his own fears and by the unscrupulous behavior of his two physicians, he conceives the idea of marrying his daughter off to one of his doctors in return for a lifetime of free medical treatments. The idea meets opposition, though, when it becomes clear that the young lady's affections lie elsewhere. Soon the entire household is involved in an elaborate, uproarious plot to save true love.

Known for his plays Tartuffe and The Misanthrope, Molière transformed French comedy by perfecting a comic method that he developed while working as an actor. The Imaginary Invalid, perfectly represents the playwright's "comédie-ballet" style, recognized for its skillful patterning of dialogue designed to enhance the typically intense physical presentation of the play. Molière is equally well known for his satiric commentary on society and for exploring eternal human foibles and obsessions. Regrettably, the play was Molière's last. During the fourth performance Molière, who was ironically playing the hypochondriac Argan, was seized with a genuine coughing fit and died later that night.

Director Malcolm Tulip chose the play out of his admiration for Molière's work and to give himself and his students the opportunity to work on a non contemporary production. The play will be set in 1673, the year that it was first performed. To achieve this goal, Mr. Tulip will be aided by a design team including costume designer Jessica Hahn, set designer Caleb Levengood, and lighting designer Brooke Sinclair.

Click here to view The Imaginary Invalid program as a PDF file

Production Designs
Costume Designs by Jessica Hahn

Production Photographs

David Jones as Argan David Jones and Jennifer Freidel as Toinette

David Jones and Christina Reynolds as Beline Sean Ward as Thomas Diafoirus and Josh Lefkowitz as Mr. Diafoirus

Aubrey Levy as Mr. de Bonnefoy Jason Smith as Beralde

Lauren Roberts as Louison and David Jones Joanna Fetter as Angelique

Edmund Alyn Jones as Cleante Cast