per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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a little theatrical relevance, anyone?
nola
evcelt
The Shakespeare Theatre is currently performing Moliere's "Don Juan", in a new translation by Stephen Wadsworth. It's a mighty fine production- Jeremy Webb, who plays the title role, throws himself into it with energy and relish, portraying an almost diabolical reprobate of great cunning, with and intelligence. Michael Milligan, playing his long-suffering servant Sganarelle, is the perfect foil, trying desperately to keep his master from damnation but keeping his moralizing laced with wit and humanity.

The play caused outrage when it was first performed in 1665, and was censored almost immediately. You can see why- as just one example, Don Juan's monologue extolling hypocrisy is a direct assault on the pious court clique that banned Moliere's earlier "Tartuffe".

That monologue, delivered in with great passion near the end of the play, had us in the audience gasping, laughing, and breaking into short bursts of applause. The language is brilliant, and Wadsworth's fresh and vigorous translation made it seem like Don Juan wasn't talking about the court of Louis XIV- it came across as a scathingly accurate description of the way hypocrisy has taken over almost every aspect of American politics, especially skewering the dominionit/Religious Right leadership.


"DON JUAN: There is no longer any shame in hypocrisy; it is a fashionable vice, and all fashionable vices pass for virtues. To act the part of a good man is the best part one can act. The profession of hipocrisy has wonderful advantages. It is an art, the imposture of which is always looked upon with respect; and although the world may see through the deceit, it dares say nothing against it. All the other vices of mankind are opened to censure, and everyone is at liberty to attack them boldly; but hipocrisy is a privileged vice which closes the mouth of everyone, and enjoys in peace a sovereign impunity. By dint of cant we enter into a kind of league with those of the same party, and whoever falls out with one of us has the whole set against him; whilst those who are really sincere, and who are known to be in earnest, are always the dupes of the others, are caught in the net of the hypocrites, and blindly lend their support to those who ape their conduct. You could hardly believe what a number of these people I know who with the help of such stratagem have put a decent veil over the disorders of their youth, have sought shelter under the cloak of religion, and under its venerated dress are allowed to be as wicked as they please. Although people are aware of their intrigues, and know them for what they are, their influence is none the less real. They are well received everywhere, and a low bending of the head, deep sighs, and rolling eyes, make up for all they can be guilty of. It is under this convenient dress that I mean to take refuge and put my affair to rights. I shall not give up my dear habits, but will carefully hide them, and avoid all show in my pleasures. If I am discovered, the whole cabal will take up my interests of their own accord, and will defend me against everybody. In short, it is the only safe way of doing all I like with impunity. I shall set up for a censor of other people's actions. I shall speak evil of everybody. If I am but ever so slightly offended, I shall never forgive, but bear an irreconcilable hatred. I shall make myself the avenger of the interests of Heaven, and under this convenient shelter I will pursue my enemies, will accuse them of impiety, and know how to let loose against them the officious zealots who, without understanding how the truth stands, will heap abuse upon them and damn them boldly on their own private authority. It is thus that we can profit by the weaknesses of men, and that a wise man can accomodate himself to the vices of his age."

The Wadsworth translation is even better. Go see "Don Juan", if you possibly can...

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