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The Misanthrope: Ideals and Applications

  • Author(s): Rapp, Nicholas
  • Advisor(s): Tompa, Gabor
  • Rubinstein, Kim
  • et al.
Abstract

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO

The Misanthrope: Ideals and Applications

A Thesis submitted in partial satisfaction of the

requirements for the degree Master of Fine Arts

in

Theatre and Dance (Directing)

by

Nicholas Rapp

Committee in charge:

Gabor Tompa, Chair

Kim Rubinstein

Todd Salovey

2019

©

Nicholas Rapp, 2019

All rights reserved.

The Thesis of Nicholas Rapp is approved, and it is acceptable in quality and form for publication on microfilm and electronically:

Chair

University of California San Diego

2019

DEDICATION

To those crack-ups, who, through rigorous engagement with their designated medium, touched the surface of some transcendental thing, beyond themselves, and added to some path another cobblestone, upon which further travelers might someday approach the incandescent boundary of their destination.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Signature Page................................................................................................................ iii

Dedication....................................................................................................................... iv

Table of Contents............................................................................................................ v

List of Images…………................................................................................................. vi

Acknowledgements........................................................................................................ vii

Abstract of the Thesis..................................................................................................... viii

Epigraph……………………………………………………………………………...... 11

PART 1: HOW I CAME TO DIRECT THE MISANTHROPE………………………. 12

PART 2: FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE PLAY…………………………………….. 18

PART 3: DESIRED IMPACT, PRIOR TO REHEARSALS…………………………... 21

PART 4: HOW HISTORY INFORMED MY READING……………………………... 23

PART 5: HOW NEW YORK INFORMED A CONCEPT…………………………….. 27

PART 6: THE CONCEPT ITSELF…………………………………………………….. 31

PART 7: METHOD……………………………………………………………………. 38

PART 8: THE CHANGES……………………………………………………………... 52

LIST OF IMAGES

Image 1. David Price, Lee Vignes, and Cody Sloan, The Misanthrope, photo……………... 32

Image 2. David Price and Emily Stout, The Misanthrope, photo…………………………… 34

Image 3. Lee Vignes, Amir Aftabi, Jiaxiang Xie and Emily Stout, The Misanthrope, photo. 35

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Thank you to Kim Rubinstein, who taught me of the redemptive power of oppositional forces- that in deepest dark lay the path toward brightest light; who taught me how to listen with more porousness, in order to receive better whomever it is I am in relationship with; and who, through a personalized and intensive mentorship, taught me better how to be... She is a poet in the old sense. “I am Emily Dickenson.” Thank you to Gabor Tompa, who fostered within me a deeper appreciation and respect for the craft of directing, illuminating the rich legacy of those who came before; who taught me that nothing is granted, that the situation must be built step by step; and above all, who taught me of the importance of the concept, in order that the director’s dramaturgy might inform every line of an otherwise dead play text. My thanks as well must go to Robert Castro, who taught me by example such timeless virtues as grace, humility, and generosity; who modelled the curiosity of an ideal scholar; and who taught each of us students the necessity of bringing ourselves, selfishly and selflessly, to the work. Lastly, I thank Todd Salovey, who stepped in at the final hour of my education, and exemplified the sort of leadership that inspires buy-in through generosity and respect.

ABSTRACT OF THE THESIS

The Misanthrope: Ideals and Applications

by

Nicholas Rapp

Master of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance (Directing)

University of California San Diego, 2019

Professor Gabor Tompa, Chair

In the winter quarter of 2019, I directed my thesis production of Molière’s The Misanthrope. This production offered a unique set of challenges for a wide variety of reasons. The play itself was written in France in 1666, targeting for its audience the French royal court, while our audience here would be a university population in the year 2019. Beyond simply the time in which it was written and the subject matter of the play, we had to contend with style – that being the Alexandrine verse translated into rhyming couplets, and many large chunks of language at once, the like of which most among our audience would not find palatable, or even digestible without the proper context to house that language.

My task as director would be to find a suitable context, as part of my concept, within which to reposition the classic play for our contemporary audience. I was also tasked to invite the enthusiastic collaboration of all involved with the project to bring the full thrust of their talents toward making the concept clear and effective, and to facilitate a healthy, creative environment where changes, even up until the last minute, could be received by all collaborating parties, and integrated successfully into the work – a piece which, by project’s end, ought best to belong to all of us. A final challenge unique to my process was an initial compulsion to integrate my own artistic practice of Grotowskian working methods into the fabric of our performance aesthetic. In this written document, I hope to speak to these challenges among others, in the hopes of illuminating the successes and failures of The Misanthrope, lighting a path toward ever better practices for future work.

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