March 14, 2016, was supposed to be closing night for Lafayette’s production of Molière’s Tartuffe. Instead, nature and the norovirus conspired to give the production an auspicious debut – in New York City.
The 1664 play was a joint production of Lafayette, the IDEAL Center for Innovation, and Flux Theatre Ensemble, a 10-year-old, New York-based group of actors, production designers, and producers. When campus closed March 9 to stem the virus, initial performances of Tartuffe were delayed one week.
That made Teatro Circulo on East Fourth Street in Manhattan the debut.
“Just keeping up with the Flux actors was a challenge,” says theater major Luis Aviles ’17 (Fresh Meadows, N.Y.), who played the character Damis in his New York stage debut.
Kelly O’Donnell, Flux founder and creative partner, who directed Tartuffe, and two others from the ensemble were in residency at Lafayette last spring, working with theater students. In addition to helping them hone their craft for Tartuffe, the Flux residents helped students create an original play staged in April.
A gift from Paul Staubi ’88 to benefit the theater program helped fund the Flux residency and the production of Tartuffe. The gift also helped underwrite student participation in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship auditions at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
“Working with the Flux company was so, so wonderful,” says Aleni Mackarey ’16, who graduated with majors in theater and English. “We heard firsthand accounts of careers in the theater and had the chance to perform for a New York City audience. The entire process was very educational and enjoyable. I am so grateful to have been a part of it.”
Mackarey is a writer for the Happenings magazine covering Northeast Pennsylvania, an adjunct instructor at Lackawanna College, and project coordinator at Base Beauty Creative Agency in New York City.
Gavin Knox ’17 shares Mackarey’s majors and, like her, performed in Tartuffe and participated in the auditions at the Kennedy Center.
“Having the opportunity to work with a professional director and other professional actors was exciting and invaluable,” he says. “I plan to pursue a career in theater after Lafayette, and having the experience of performing in New York City before I’m even out of college is absolutely incredible. I and other students are very grateful for the generous donations given by people like Mr. Staubi.”