College of the Canyons theater to tackle Moliere’s sophisticated comedy

The Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons. Katharine Lotze/Signal

College of the Canyons’ theater department is looking to bring some sophistication and comedy to Santa Clarita’s live performance scene.

Opening on Nov. 15 and running until the Nov. 24, COC students will perform Moliere’s five-act comedy satire “The Learned Ladies” in the Black Box Theater. 

“This play is an amazing piece of history and theater history, and after 400 years it still holds up as being funny,” said David Stears, director of the play and producer of COC’s theater department. “A lot of the characters in the play we still see today in our romantic comedies and sitcoms like the strong-willed wife, the put-upon husband, the squabbling sisters and the con man. Moliere did a great job, like Shakespeare, of writing honest characters and truthful relationships.”

Though the play was originally written in French, “The Learned Ladies” was translated into English with rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter, like Shakespeare. Since the performance is student-driven, Stears said the level of difficulty involved in putting on a show of this caliber is why the department chose it. 

“We chose the show because the language would challenge our students and also the play gave us wonderful ways to work in the different clothing like big hair, big skirts and different colors; almost like if it was the ’80s of the period,” Stears said. “The students have a lot of information coming at them and are just eating it up. It’s exciting for me to work with students who appreciate the work and are working so hard to bring it to the audience.”

As intimidating as this might sound for audiences, Stears does not believe they will have any difficulty understanding the show, which he said still sounds modern despite being translated about 50 years ago. He also said the show will be a visual treat for the audience.

“We have professional costume and wig designers working with us for the show, and their work is outrageous and outstanding, that I think really make our show stand out,” Stears said. “We also have a see-saw in the middle of the stage because the characters are just children and we decided to make our show like a playground. It’s a very intelligent play that explores everyone’s point of view, and you don’t really get that a lot of the time in comedy.”

Performances of the COC theatre department’s production of “Learned Ladies” are scheduled 8 p.m. Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 22-23. Matinee performances are scheduled 2 p.m. Nov. 17 and on Nov. 23-24. General admission is $12 and students and seniors are $6. School groups wishing to see the play can email [email protected] for special deals.

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