Themes in Moliere’s ‘Don Juan’ echoe today’s Me Too movement

Everett Community College presents the comedic play from 1665 June 1-9 at the college’s theater.

Everett Community College students Rebecca Cunningham (far left), Mathew Horsley, Sonja Kinzer, Laura David and Samantha Tonn are performing “Don Juan” June 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9 on campus at Baker Hall. (Everett Community College)

Everett Community College students Rebecca Cunningham (far left), Mathew Horsley, Sonja Kinzer, Laura David and Samantha Tonn are performing “Don Juan” June 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9 on campus at Baker Hall. (Everett Community College)

The story of a man using his position to ceaselessly pursue women would certainly seem to be a modern tale, even before the #MeToo movement gained a hashtag — and national momentum.

It is the French playwright Moliere who shows us just how long this problem has endured, using it as his theme in the play “Don Juan,” written in 1665.

“There is something about that character that’s inherent in our culture,” said Beth Peterson, a theater instructor at Everett Community College, where six performances are scheduled beginning June 1.

It’s a story of a man who doesn’t have a sense of how his actions affect other people, and he’s forced to pay the consequences.

Peterson said she selected the play because she knew its 12-member cast would be good with comedy.

“It’s a play I wanted to do for a long time,” she said. It includes five original songs created by EvCC students.

Even though Peterson describes Don Juan as an amoral and hypocritical character, she said there was no shortage of students who wanted to play him.

Matthew Horsley, 21, who won the job, said he first became familiar with a scene from another version of the play in a class and looks forward to doing the full play as the lead character.

The cast is in weekday rehearsals about two-and-a-half hours a day.

The Monroe High School graduate said it’s entertaining to be in a role of someone who is supposed to be hated. He’s kind of a lovable jerk type, he said, “but you’ve got to play up that part.”

Neal Akins, 23, plays the role of Sganarelle, Don Juan’s pious sidekick. Akins said he was among those who hoped to land the role of Don Juan, but that he finds Sganarelle’s character entertaining.

This is the third EvCC play he’s been in this year.

Sonja Kinzer plays the role of Elvira, a woman Don Juan stole away from a convent. Soon after their marriage, he begins chasing other women.

At first Elvira reacts angrily, saying God will punish him for his wickedness. Eventually she forgives him, but wants him to change his ways.

Kinzer, 18, is in her second year at EvCC as a Running Start student. She said she accepted the role in part because of the challenge of its monologues.

“It’s a lot of fun. I do love it,” she said.

Due to its adult themes of seduction, the play is not suitable for children younger than 10.

Portions of the play will be acted on a wagon outside Baker Hall, a theatrical reference to the Medieval-era wagons that were used to transport theater troupes.

The idea for that came from the ending of the play. Don Juan eventually gets his just deserts, ending up in hell, typically exiting through a theater’s trap door.

With no such exit available in the college’s theater setting, Don Juan is carried off out a side door.

The audience has the option of going outside to watch, or they can remain inside where some action will be taking place as well.

“We’ve never done this before,” Peterson said. “It could either be a total train wreck or the greatest thing that ever happened.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

If you go

Everett Community College theater students will perform Moliere’s classic farce “Don Juan” at Baker Hall, 2000 Tower St., Room 120. The play is at 7:30 p.m. June 1, 2, 7, 8 and 9. On June 3, the performance is at 2 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted to help the drama club produce future plays. Call 425-388-9525 for more information.

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