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UAF Theatre stages production of Moliere’s play “The Misanthrope”

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 4:59 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A 17th-century comedy of manners is getting a modern makeover in a news production from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Theatre Department.

Moliere’s 1666 play “The Misanthrope” will be performed at the Lee H. Salisbury Lab Theatre.

“We’re taking it and kind of modernizing it and putting a little Fairbanks twist on it,” said Rachel Blackwell, who plays the character of Arsinoe.

Director Michael Shaeffer explained that the play is “a romantic comedy about a widow who has survived her grieving process, but now it’s time to play the field again, and she’s started actively dating a couple contenders.”

This performance of the play is set in present-day Fairbanks, on a rooftop overlooking downtown.

The actors are glad to be performing in front of an audience again. “I think theater is about that give-and-take with the audience, and it’s really hard to perform without the other side of that,” Blackwell said.

Riley von Borstel, who plays Celimene, said being able to entertain a live audience “feels so good. I’m so happy to be back here. This is like therapy for me.”

“I can’t wait to actually have an audience,” she added.

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect the community, putting on a performance safely involves several precautions. “The whole cast is vaccinated, and we had a mask-off Monday a couple weeks ago where the actors were able to take off their masks and interact with each other on stage for the first time,” Shaeffer said.

Once offstage, the actors put their masks back on. “We’ve been getting tested once, twice a week to make sure that everyone’s in tip-top shape and in good health,” according to the director.

A few technical flourishes bring the play to life. “We’ve got lots of big, flamboyant costumes. We’ve got an 80s theme going on,” Blackwell said.

Von Borstel said the lighting and sound design are amazing. “We’re ready to go,” she said.

The play opens on Friday, November 12th and runs for two weekends. Only 35 seats are available per show, and audience members are required to wear a mask.

Tickets and more information can be found here.

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