Quote of the Day: Our tendency, when adapting an existing play is to develop the writing to a strong, thoroughly digested draft, knowing that when we are in the room and on our feet with the actors it will change. Sometimes drastically, sometimes in small but crucial ways. We tend to work fast on our feet, we listen to all the voices in the room; and collectively we pursue the thing into existence. Eventually the audience enters into the process and we continue to adjust and hone and refine as we learn how it works, what it wants to be. interview in the playbill from The Jungle Theater with the creators of The Moving Company, and their thoughts on adapting Molière’s play, The Misanthrope.
Say All the Truth is a quiet and thoughtful play that examines society, to retreat from it or stay and fight the good fight. It also has themes of relationships, love, power, and honesty. The Moving Company has a long history with the 17th century playwright Molière, having done adaptations of his other great works. Founders Dominque Serrand, Steven Epp, and Nathan Keepers use their brilliant skills in theater making to bring The Misanthrope to the 21st Century, renaming it Say All the Truth, cutting a few characters, and bringing their relationships closer to each other.
The play begins with Alceste (Steven Epp) on stage, contemplating society’s many flaws, as well as a leak in the ceiling. As the water drips, creating an ever increasing puddle and need for a bigger vessel to contain it, his friend Philinte (Nathan Keepers) enters and discusses the main questions of the day. Alceste is so frustrated by the world that he talks about retreating from it. Philinte counters with a line like, “In order to create change in the world, you need to live in it.” Alceste believes that complete honesty is important, but is that always the case? Aren’t there times when it’s best to keep brutal comments to ourselves, or to say only what is necessary? They both bring good points to the argument. One point that stood out to me was that if we all acted with honesty, integrity and morality, there would be no need for most laws.
Alceste can’t quite retreat from the world because he craves relationships, even as they can disappoint him. He is smitten with Célimène (Liz Wisan), a performer, who is a beautiful, free spirit. Philinte is interested in her younger sister Éliante (Tracey Maloney), who is more of an idealist. Their older sister Arsinoé (Sally Wingert) brings a more critical element to the table.
Nearly every element in this production is symbolic, and I’m sure I didn’t catch half of them. The leaking ceiling seems pretty clear to me. I’ve often had dreams where the roof is leaking, or an area is flooding, when life feels more uncertain. When the sisters enter and have their first scene together, a mirror is revealed, like in a dressing room, where the audience can literally see themselves in the play. Which character are you? Do you have similar thoughts, actions and reactions to any of the characters on stage, or do your thoughts go in different directions? The stage (set design by Dominique Serrand) is rustic in appearance, actors move set pieces in and out for scenes, placing a chair here, a table there, a chandelier drops for an elegant meal, while the tables are wrenched apart during an argument. Lighting design by Marcus Dilliard creates mood and focus.
The costumes (designed by Sonja Berlovitz) are all light colors and flowing fabrics, except for Célimène who wears vibrant red and black, more form fitting. However, she puts on a cream colored blouse when she talks to her older sister, then later says that she wasn’t being completely honest with her.
Say All the Truth is a play to see with friends or a theater group. It is one that you will want to discuss. It could take many viewings to uncover all the truths and hidden meanings in this play. It gives you pause and asks you, perhaps, to examine your own interactions with the world we live in. You can see Say All the Truth at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis, MN through November 26, 2023.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: What are you contemplating right now in your relationships, community and world?