Tartuffe set to hit the stage under new director

By Tara Sim, Staff Writers

 

The first thing to notice about R. Michael Gros are his hands – whether they are adjusting his glasses, grasping a binder of production material, or emphasizing stage direction, it is apparent through his gestures that he is focused and fully involved.

 

The director of City College Theatre Arts Department’s spring production of Tartuffe, R. Michael Gros is one of the college’s newest faculty members.

 

“We are really happy to have him on board,” Production Chair Katie Laris said.

Having directed/produced over seventy productions, he brings with him an impressive resume.

 

His professional background ranges from working with the Utah Shakespearean Festival to being the Artistic Director with the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and teaching as the Assistant Professor of Theater at Kansas State University.

 

After a national search netting an applicant pool of 210 potential directors, Gros was chosen not only for his understanding of theater but also for his personable approach to teaching.

 

“Despite all of his credentials and all of his experience, he’s very accessible,” said Laris. “Students love working with him.”

 

A California native, Gros appreciates what it’s like to be in school.

“I was a community college student so I feel very strongly about the point of opportunity that students have,” said Gros. “I think that because it is a community college we have people of all ages and experiences. It makes the classes kind of fun, [and] at times more challenging.”

 

Moving around the room, it is apparent that he feels comfortable among his cast.

“He is a warm and engaging person,” said Katie Laris. “He has a tremendous amount of experience as a director.”

This production is not only an exciting first for the director, but for the college as well. This is the first comedy by Molière to be featured at City College.

 

“It’s challenging because we are using a modern-day translation,” explains Gros. “It is still very formal in its structure.”

 

While it may be one of the classics, Gros is directing new life into the timeless comedy.

“It is as modern as yesterday’s news,” said Gros. “You take a classical play and really challenge the questions: Is it timeless? Is it universal? The answer is yes.”

 

The play is a comedy that gives caution to the naivety of blind faith. Main character Tartuffe is a hypocritical conman who uses religion to prey on a man, Orgon. With blind faith, Orgon praises and rewards Tartuffe despite the protests of Orgon’s family. They know of Tartuffe’s religious hypocrisy and seek to expose the truth. The story is a satire of the times and is expressed as a comedy.

 

“To share this with students that normally would never be exposed to this material is a challenge and exciting,” said Gros.

“We are trying to produce the very best theater possible,” said Katie Laris. She believes that our new director will be a visionary and understand the unique quality required to make this City College play a success.

 

Gros shares his associate’s excitement for City College and its Theatre Arts Department.

 

“The view is wonderful,” says Gros, “But I enjoy coming to work for my colleagues and students.”