The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024

Release: March 15, 2001

(NOTE TO EDITORS: John Cameron can be contacted by e-mail: <>.)

(NOTE TO PRINT EDITORS: The student actresses in the photos are Mollie Mook [blonde], Amy Olson [blue dress and jeweled necklace] and Stephanie Richard.)

University Theatres presents Moliere's 'The Learned Ladies' March 29 through April 8

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University Theatres Mainstage will conclude its 2000-2001 season with Moliere’s pointed satire "The Learned Ladies" March 29 through April 8 in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the University of Iowa Theatre Building. Performances will be at 8 p.m. March 29-31 and April 4-7, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, April 1 and 8.

Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673) made a career of mocking the foibles, preoccupations and corruption of French culture. And "The Learned Ladies," his next-to-last play, gave Moliere ample opportunity to irreverently ridicule the pretensions of faux intellectualism, including the cults of grammar, philosophy and astronomy that were in vogue in his time.

His leading characters, colorfully caricatured in typical Moliere fashion, are three credulous, aristocratic, female pedants -- a mother and two daughters who are easy prey for intellectual frauds -- who prove more adept at botched romantic manipulations than any discipline of learning.

The mother is intent on matching one of her daughters to the charlatan poet to whom they have become devotees. But the usually timid, henpecked husband, who sees through the fake’s greed, has plans of his own.

Faculty director John Cameron comments, "The passing of time has rendered Moliere’s simple domestic comedy, ‘The Learned Ladies,’ socially provocative and even controversial. Its content, once considered light fare with a dash of proper moral instruction, now occasionally seems mocking, sometimes sexist, and even abusive in its rhetoric.

"But the beauty of Moliere’s satiric genius is that the comedy is so well written and so evenly distributed in its gleeful, wicked attacks on human foibles that it is practically timeless in interpretation. Our production will not attempt to update, apologize for, or redefine this classic tale of a house turned upside-down, but instead will take a peek at the world of mid-17th-century France with all its love of scandal, affectation, sumptuous setting and colorful costume. It promises to be an evening of surprises."

Other artistic contributors to the production of "The Learned Ladies" are set designer
Ben Schmidt, costume designer Loyce Arthur, lighting designer Michael O’Connell and dramaturg Nancy C. Mayfield.

University Theatres is the performance arm of the UI department of theatre arts, which is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts.

Moliere is well represented in the Division of Performing Arts this spring. The UI Martha-Ellen Tye Opera Theater will present Kirke Mechem’s musical version of Moliere’s "Tartuffe," one of the most popular American operas of recent years, April 27-29, also in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the Theatre Building.

Tickets for "The Learned Ladies" are $15 ($7 for UI students, senior citizens and youth). Tickets may be purchased in advance from the Hancher Auditorium box office. Any remaining tickets for each performance will be available one hour before curtain time at the Theatre Building box office.

Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.