On Stage: Content Advisories

Part of the mission of the School of Theatre is to provide meaningful cultural and entertainment experiences for the university and the people of East Texas. In doing so with our Mainstage productions, we most frequently turn to widely recognized writers of the past and present, and because they tell the stories of people in conflict—stories that are, in a word, dramatic—their words and works are usually challenging and controversial.

We never seek to offend, but we recognize that people of various sensibilities and sensitivities might choose to avoid some of the language, situations and behaviors that some of these plays use or depict.

For this reason, we offer the following as a source of information, and we resolve here to make a good-faith effort to let patrons, parents and teachers know about the material in our Mainstage productions we believe is most likely to be of concern.

Tartuffe (October 3–7, 2017)

SYNOPSIS: Molière created literature’s most memorable con artist--and one of the funniest plays ever written--more than 350 years ago. Tartuffe boasts lavishly of his religious piety and moral purity, but everyone can see that his behavior is absurdly hypocritical. Everyone, that is, except Orgon, the all-powerful father of the house where Tartuffe has taken up residence as a smarmy parasite. Orgon becomes ever more willfully receptive to Tartuffe’s scam in spite of his family’s arguments, so they lay a trap for the imposter—but will they catch the baroque sleazeball before he swindles them out of everything they’ve got?

LANGUAGE: This perennially popular seventeenth-century comedy, translated in the early 1960s by the American poet Richard Wilbur, has none of the language that is usually banned from broadcast television, although there is quite a bit of discussion of “cuckolding."

SMOKING, DRINKING AND DRUGS: There is no tobacco or drug use, but this production does depict a couple of the characters taking a drink of something like cognac.

NUDITY AND SEXUAL CONTENT: Sensitive viewers may be troubled by a humorous “seduction” scene, in which a clever woman tricks a lustful man into believing she is on the brink of giving in to his sexual advances. This does result in a cartoonish sexual position being assumed, and trousers and skirts being displaced, but far less “nudity” than one would expect to see at a public swimming pool.

RELIGION/CULTURE: The play is not, as is sometimes charged, a satire of religion, although Moliere did call it a satire of religious hypocrisy.

AUDIENCE: Tartuffe is not recommended for elementary school students or younger children, and parents are cautioned about its sometimes-bawdy humor.