SIUE Theater and Dance Department is putting on “The Imaginary Invalid”, a comedy by the French playwright Moliere, and adapted by Constance Congdon. With fun costumes and hilarious dialogue, students are excited to bring the show before an audience.

Tress Kurzym is a theater education coordinator and instructor, as well as director of the show. She said the show is a modern adaptation of the original. Kurzym said she chose Congdon’s adaptation not only for its inclusion of both the prologue and epilogue but that it was adapted by a woman and the department is trying to show a full representation of playwrights.

“I found this particular adaptation, which I loved because it has the prologue and epilogue the way that Moliere would have performed it. The other thing that I particularly like about “[The] Imaginary Invalid” is that it has more of a low comedy. This is our first fully produced show for our season since COVID[-19], so it just feels right to do a comedy,” Kurzym said.

Senior Tucker Greer, a theater performance and education major from Owensboro, Kentucky, plays Argan, the male lead. He said it’s important and appropriate that they are doing a comedy as the first full show back after COVID-19.

“People just want to laugh. People don’t want to be sad right now. We’ve been dealing with so much sadness, and people just want to enjoy, and not think too hard,” Greer said. “There are so many good old fart jokes. Just the classic humor that everybody loves. Potty humor is funny, it can be annoying sometimes but it’s so refreshing just to laugh at something childlike.”

Kurzym said she designed the show around a carousel she remembers seeing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris since her goal was to keep the show very French, but with a modern take on the 17th-century show.

“I was thinking about everything that was just very French. I knew it was set in that Baroque period. I wanted to just push it a little forward into Rococo. Without being super true, but that’s what commedia would have done, they would have made jokes about whatever was period-appropriate then,” Kurzym said.

The carousel idea carried throughout the entire show from costume to set design, according to Kurzym. Laura Hanson, a professor in the theater department and the costume designer for the show, said she ran with the idea of a carousel in her costume design.

“[The vintage carousel] inspired me to sort of give each of the characters an animal personality, assign them with one of the animals on the carousel. There are little bits of animals in each of the costumes for that character. If you look really closely, you can see some of the fabrics or the shapes sort of mimic the animal,” Hanson said.

Hanson said for example the main character, Argan, is an old goat, so he has ears on his hat and little goats on the trim of his robe. She said the costumes bring the characters to life and make the personalities more visible to the audience.

“People could come to see the show just for the costumes because they’re just phenomenal,” Greer said.

Senior Julia Wolz, a theater education major from Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, is stage manager for the show. She said she’s excited to be back in the theater to feel the audience’s energy and excitement.

“It’s really real, how much [the audience] affects the way that I’m feeling too, so it’s really exciting,” Wolz said. ”Being overcome with the feelings and emotions that happen in live theater, it is okay to feel those feelings and express that laughter and express if something pulls at your heartstrings.”

Wolz said the cast has been amazing, especially since a majority of them are upperclassmen, they have had time to perfect their craft.

Senior Montana Allison Hughey-Takacs, a theater performance major from Bloomington, Illinois, who plays Toinette also said the cast has been wonderful to work with, coming together to create something that’s just fluff and fun.

“Everyone is wonderful. Tress [Kurzym] did so well with casting. It’s so stacked. It’s such a team,” Hughey-Takacs said.

“The Imaginary Invalid” opening night is at 7:30 p.m. Wed. Oct. 27 in Dunham. The show will run through Oct. 31. Tickets and information can be found on the Theater and Dance Department website.

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