June 6, 2013 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
BMCC’s Theatre Department attracts many creative types; many of whom wish to pursue acting and stage work professionally.
Last semester, talented students from Theatre department came together to perform and stage an updated version of the famous Molière play The Misanthrope which opened in Theatre II just a few weeks before the 2013 commencement.
This version of The Misanthrope was adapted by playwright Liza Kash-Stroppel and directed by BMCC Theatre Professor Alkis Papoutsis.
“This Misanthrope was special to me because of Elizabeth Kash-Stroppel’s translation/adaptation. Even though she stayed true to Moliere’s original rhyming couplet scheme and spirit, she transplanted it to ‘Brooklyn’ with modern language and sensibility,” says Papoutsis. “That, I think, made the play more accessible to today’s audience.”
Relevance of show
The Misanthrope is one of Moliere’s most popular works, about an honest, “true” man who despises the falsity and hypocrisy of society and just wants everyone to be good and honest—with themselves and each other. Although he seeks sincerity, at times his personal mission is unraveled by a beautiful woman.
Kash-Stroppel’s brother, actor Kevin Kash, a recent Theatre graduate, played the character known as The Misanthrope, who is named Alphonse in this adaptation.
“Molière’s plays are classic because they relate to any generation. Themes on hypocrisy, stabbing people in the back, and how much are we willing to lose for being honest will never go away,” says Papoutsis.
“Our research for the production mostly came from watching and thinking about those reality shows such as Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives of…The nouveau-rich, gaudy, loud sense of themselves they all strive to demonstrate.”
Life imitating art
Chris Hernandez—who recently graduated from BMCC with a Theatre degree—played Carmine in the show.
“Carmine is an arrogant Brooklyn gangster. I grew up with a lot of Italian guys from the Lower East Side,” says Hernandez. “He’s kind of like Sunny from the movie A Bronx Tale.”
Hernandez’s real-life wife, Maria Luzuriaga, also a recent BMCC Theatre graduate, played Celeste, the object of Alphonse’s desire (and downfall, depending whom you ask!).
The couple—who met at BMCC—appeared in a few scenes together, but in the production their characters are not romantically linked.
“Playing Celeste was a bit of a challenge,” admits Luzuriaga. “I’m not flirtatious and she’s very outgoing. But I love her. Thanks to Celeste, I get to play something I’m not.”
Luzuriaga explains the moral of The Misanthrope.
“It’s about a party lifestyle in Brooklyn where people are talking about each other—and backstabbing each other. It’s about the modern life. That’s what you’ll see in this play. The message is, all that backstabbing will face you at the end.”
As for co-starring with their spouses?
“This was our last semester at BMCC and it’s great we got to work together,” says Hernandez of his wife; they previous starred in The Seagull at the college. “We run lines together at home and push each other towards the same goal.”
“Theatre is, above all else, a collaboration.,” says Professor Katherine Kavanagh, a member of the show’s creative team. “I’m so proud of the way our faculty, the staff of BMCC’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and our students, collaborated to make The Misanthrope a success.”
She adds: “It was exciting to work with Brooklyn-based playwright, Elizabeth Kash- Stroppel, on a fresh new adaptation of this important, classic play.”
The cast of The Misanthrope consisted of: Kevin Kash, Maria Luzuriaga, Noel Austin, Kalia Narruhn, Benny Acevado, Chris Hernandez, Craig Watson, Katie Wright, Ashley Altamirano, Justin Simonson. The creative team of The Misanthrope consisted of: Alkis Papoutsis, Liz Kash-Stroppel, Elizabeth Chaney, Mitchell Ost, Christopher Peifer, Raphael Rothstein, Katherine Kavanagh, Kimberly Flores, Emma Ruopp, Nicole Iovino.