Prospect Park is “Brooklyn’s beating heart,” according to Lucie Tiberghien. This year, she and her co-producer Garth Belcon brought a staged reading of Moliere’s play The Misanthrope to the Le Frak Center. She says that “just like Shakespeare has a home in Central Park, I thought Molière (who, if he were alive today, would most
certainly live in Brooklyn!) should have a permanent home in Prospect Park.”
Her vision brings Moliere, a name that many may associate with ancient, stuffy French aristocrats, to a democratic present. Anyone who wanted to reserve a seat could enjoy the French classic for free under the Brooklyn sky. Regardless of the stereotype, The Misanthrope is far from pretentious. The company performed Richard Wilbur’s 1965 translation, which somehow managed at once both a conversational and formal air, composed of rhyming couplets rendered in plain English.
The play is funny; not just funny in that chuckling Shakespearean way, but laugh out loud funny. The audience was riveted by the cast, filled with star-studded actors including Mary Wiseman (Star Trek), and McKinley Belcher III (Ozark). It was spectacular to watch the play as the sun set over Prospect Park, casting a hazy red glow over the actors. The production was sold out, but people crowded around on benches surrounding the Le Frak Center to hear.
“I loved seeing people pass by, stop to listen for a bit, and then move on,” Tiberghien said. “I loved that be
it for only a minute, people could hear rhyming couplets spoken eloquently and filled with humor.”
The Misanthrope features a man who compulsively tells the truth, convinced in the evils of dishonesty, even if only innocent flattery. He finds himself stuck in an awkward situation after insulting a colleague’s poem (something that many writers can relate to). Moliere’s plays span across a diverse cast of characters. Tiberghien started Molière in the Park as a way to pay homage to Brooklyn’s “unique brand of diversity, innovation, and inclusion”. She believes that “Molière’s plays are entirely universal and that it is particularly poignant to launch Molière in the Park in this era of political and cultural rifts, present both in France and in the US.”
Moliere in the Park’s inaugural season ran from May 18th to May 20th. They’ll be back in Prospect Park next May for a fully staged production of The Misanthrope
. In the meantime, a staged reading of The School for Wives
, is in the works. Visit their website
to join their mailing list for updates about next year’s season, or to make a donation.