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Casting Hall Productions Presents Farce 'The Doctor in Spite of Himself'

Casting Hall Productions Presents Farce 'The Doctor in Spite of Himself'

Posted: February 28, 2017

The Theater Department and Casting Hall Productions will present The Doctor in Spite of Himself, a play by Molière, in Upton Hall's Warren Enters Theatre. The production is adapted and directed by Aaron Moss, assistant professor of theater, and is inspired by the recent presidential election.

“As campaigns kicked off toward the 2016 election, I was shocked at how quickly the discourse between contestants deteriorated,” said Moss. “This drew me to a selection of plays about the importance of oracy, the fragility of language in communication, and how we must think critically about what people say. As I have continued to develop the play over the course of the election, it has reflected a caution toward the proverbial snake-oil salesman.”

The Doctor in Spite of Himself centers on the character Sganarelle, a peasant woodcutter mistaken for a renowned doctor who is charged with curing a girl who has grown mute. In spite of his lack of medical knowledge, Sganarelle’s unorthodox remedies and touch of heart prove that love and laughter are the best medicine.

Moss notes that when Molière wrote the play in 1666, French theater was controlled by the Académie Française, a council on matters of language and literature, which had strict rules about style and limited themes critical of the monarchy. The director draws parallels between seventeenth-century French society and modern-day America.

“We are experiencing a suppression of truth and facts, a regress on free speech and freedom of information,” said Moss. “In a comical way, the play depicts a world where most people accept societal mores that value money and power over liberty, justice, and truth…Overall, I was more interested in making the audience laugh than preaching to them.” 

Casting Hall previously staged The Doctor In Spite of Himself in 1934, just 3 years after Buffalo State had moved to its current Elmwood Avenue location. This production’s student cast includes Zachary Bellus as Gèronte; Kayla Bennett as Lèandre; Cristalis Bonilla as Turkey; Zoe D. Chmielewski as Sganarelle; Lucas Colon as Tartaglia; Sean Edwards as Lucas; Christian Hoffmann as M. Robert; Kai Blake Lewis as Jacqueline; Sandra Roberts as Lucinde; Matt Walters as Valère; and Eliza Zanolli-Stiles as Martine.

“Each night the show is slightly different and honors the ephemeral nature of live theater,” said Moss. “It can never be recreated the same way it will be done here at Buffalo State!”

The Doctor in Spite of Himself previews on Wednesday, March 1, and continues March 2, 3, 9, 10 at 8:00 p.m. and March 4 and 11 at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, by calling (716) 878-3005, or online.

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