“We the People” Theme Chosen For Powerful Plays

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MCLA’s FPA Theatre department will be performing “Passing Strange” directed by Jeremy Winchester and “Tartuffe”, directed by Laura Standley, this fall semester, with the two shows uniting under the theme of “We the People”.

This season’s theme was chosen by a committee of faculty and students, searching for a unifying idea that would benefit the people and the school, under the current political climate. Senior and FPA Theatre major Alex Sasso explained the importance of this theme and the necessity of speaking up as artists.

“You have to say something, she said. “You can’t be silent when things like this are happening. That had a huge impact on ‘Passing Strange’ in particular.”

Sasso describes “Passing Strange” as a musical, focusing on the narrator’s life, with the audience following his journey of self-discovery as he travels outside America.

The story is an autobiography of Mark Stewart, the musician and playwright behind the production. This is the first play he’s written.

The narrators character, based on Stewart, tells his story, while the audience witnesses a younger version of himself. He travels to Los Angeles, Amsterdam, and Berlin, to discover bohemian lifestyles, and the road to find the real him.

“I’m really excited for us to do a musical,” Sasso said. “Passing Strange, as well as the rest of the FPA season also has a lot to say about society right now.”

“Tartuffe” is a classical play with a heavy focus on comedy. Sasso explains that satire plays a large part, drawing similarities to current government and political figures.

“Tartuffe” was written by Moliere and first performed in 1664. It tells the story of a mother visiting her family, only to fall under the influence of Tartuffe, a fraud pretending to be pious. Tartuffe always seems to find a way to slip out of any compromising situation.

The play was initially controversial and could only be performed privately. Today, the play has had multiple revivals, with just as many alterations to setting and dialogue, while keeping the roots of the play intact.

“It’s going to be really funny, but there is a lot in it that is very real and kind of scary based on what the country is going through right now,” Sasso said.

“Passing Strange” will run the weekends of Oct. 13 and 20, with “Tartuffe” being performed the first two weekends of December.