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Moliere meets Metal!

"The Misanthrope" opens at MainStage Season Nov. 12

Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

October 24, 2011

The ASU Herberger Institute School of Theatre and Film MainStage Season.

“The Misanthrope” by Moliere, translated and adapted by Lauren Goldman Marshall, based on a concept by Alan Craig Di Bona. Directed by William Partlan.

A mosh pit, a hot tub, a heavy metal backyard amusement park -- as well as original music -- are the hallmarks of this rock adaptation of Moliere’s 17th century comedy.

The Misanthrope tells the tale of a rock demi-god, Alceste, who becomes disenchanted with the hypocritical rules and games of the music scene. He is in love with the beautiful, flirtatious and career-driven Celimene, played by ASU acting student Amber Wright, who embodies many of the deceitful qualities Alceste detests in people.

Leading the cast is senior acting student Jason Steffen, whose own life sometimes mirrors that of the misanthropic character he portrays, “especially in high school,” Steffen recalls. Currently, Steffen leads the local black metal band Singularity, which has performed at Valley venues. He composed all four of the songs to be featured in the MainStage Season production by the ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

“The music reflects bits and pieces of all of my favorite bands,” Steffen says. “I experimented with lots of different styles, and each song lives off in its own world that draws from a scene in the play.”

“Finding Jason was pure luck,” says William Partlan, professor of directing. The connection was made when Partlan overheard Steffen talking about his music after directing class. “I knew he was a good actor, and when I heard he was a composer as well, I thought we had struck gold.”

Partlan is not a self-described “metal head,” but he is a musician and was slightly familiar with the genre through his son Nathan. When he read the script, Partlan’s mind “immediately went back” to the purity of heavy metal lyrics and the hubris of many of its musicians. “The world of heavy metal has no lack of misanthropic artists, many of whom refuse to flatter the monied interests or play by society’s rules,” says Partlan. “In my mind, the milieu was a natural.”

Lauren Marshall’s translation was inspired by the lives and music of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. It is “raunchy, but only where Moliere was raunchy,” says Partlan. Marshall worked from the original French, translating and adapting line by line, Partlan adds. “It is very artfully done.”

The costume and scene design befit the world of the rock musician. To be staged in the cavernous Paul V. Galvin Playhouse on the ASU Tempe campus, “The Misanthrope” will feature a mosh pit and a dark version of Michael Jackson’s backyard amusement park at Neverland Ranch, complete with a hot tub. 
Costumes will be “heavy-metal-meets-Baroque,” Partlan says.“The band Kiss and some of the early metal bands could have worn their costumes in the French courts. They have that Baroque element. We have integrated those ideas, and the results are diabolically fantastic.”

“If you liked the filmSpinal Tap,” Steffen adds, "and you are up for a wild ride, you will enjoy this production of The Misanthrope.”

NOTE: This show contains nudity, mature language and adult themes, and may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

Paul V. Galvin Playhouse, 51 E. 10th St., ASU Tempe campus.

Nov. 12, 18-19, Dec. 2-3 at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. Note: "The Misanthrope" will break for Thanksgiving weekend

$8–$16; Seniors, ASU faculty, staff and students receive special rates. Special discounts for groups available.

Public Contact
Herberger Institute box office, 480.965.6447
School of Theatre and Film. 480.965.5337 

The School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University provides a comprehensive range of courses in performance and directing; design and production; new work development; theatre and performance studies; film; and theatre for youth. Its Theatre for Youth program is nationally ranked in the top three and the dramatic writing/playwriting program is ranked 15th among public institutions by U.S.News & World Report. To learn more about the School of Theatre and Film, visit

Media Contact:
Laurie A. Trotta Valenti 
ASU Herberger Institute 
School of Theatre and Film