What happens when you take the classic 17th-century Molière play Tartuffe and move it to a Rez in the wake of Expo 67?
Anishinaabe playwright Herbie Barnes’ spin on the well-known tale, Father Tartuffe: An Indigenous Misadventure, uses this premise as a starting point for a delightful comedy. The hypocritically religious Tartuffe becomes con artist Father Tartuffe, while the easily-swayed Orgon is reimagined as Orin, a Rez patriarch who came into money from Expo 67—and is poised to lose it all, unless his family can expose Tartuffe’s conniving ways.
“This is a Canadian adaptation of Molière’s play Tartuffe with a strong First Nations identity filled with humour and love,” says Barnes, whose other credits include Bent Boy and Russell’s World, in a press release. “The core of Father Tartuffe: An Indigenous Misadventure is a comedy about a round man trying to fit into a square hole. When the world reflects that being who you are is not enough, you do just about anything to be more.”
Father Tartuffe: An Indigenous Misadventure will be showing at Arts Club’s Granville Island Stage from February 22 to March 24 as a co-production with Touchstone Theatre.
“Like Molière, Herbie Barnes has an innate sense of comic irony. I loved his ingenious take on Tartuffe, setting it on a reservation in the shadow of Expo 67—when only seven years before, Indigenous people were finally granted the right to vote,” says Roy Surette, artistic director of Touchstone Theatre and co-director, in a statement. “I appreciated Herbie’s insights into this time of change and the tension between the promises of material prosperity and retaining one’s cultural values.”
Musqueam artist Quelemia Sparrow serves as the other co-director, along with being part of the cast as Elise, a reimagining of Orin’s wife. Other cast members include local stage legend Sam Bob (Nanoose First Nation) as Orin, Aiden Correia (Yaga, Legends of Tomorrow) as Tartuffe, and Nuu-chah-nulth actor Danica Charlie (White Girls in Maccasins) as Maryanne.
A talkback takes place on March 12, while VocalEye live description performances will be held on March 19 and 22.
Father Tartuffe: An Indigenous Misadventure
When: February 22 to March 24, various times
Where: Granville Island Stage, 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver
Admission: From $29, available here