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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2024 | 7:30 PM ET

Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF)

Directed by JESSE BERGER

Featuring Annaleigh Ashford, Jordan Boatman, Arnie Burton, Kelley Curran, Carson Elrod, Mark Linn-Baker, Ryan McCartan, Amelia Pedlow, and Lorenzo Pisoni.

In Molière’s best loved comedy, Monsieur Argan is a notorious hypochondriac whose nonexistent illnesses blind him to the con men and women (his new wife) who prey on his fears to fatten their purses. His plan: marry his daughter to a doctor so he'll have free round-the-clock on-site healthcare for the rest of his life. Newly translated by Mirabelle Ordinaire and adapted for Red Bull by Jeffrey Hatcher, THE IMAGINARY INVALID is a brilliant satire of doctors, lawyers, and would-be patients who take self-care to staggering levels of pathological solipsism.  A comic whirlwind of pills, lovers, therapies, disguises, vaccinations, impersonations, masks, mindfulness and miracle cures.

This reading is produced in partnership with the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF).


This event premiered live in-person from Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute Alliance Française on Monday, February 19, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET. The recording was available at 7:30 PM ET on Tuesday, February 20 until 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, February 25. Open Captions were available at 7:30 PM ET on Wednesday, February 21 until 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, February 25.



Argan | Mark Linn-Baker

Toinette | Annaleigh Ashford

Beline | Kelley Curran

Angelique | Jordan Boatman

Cleante | Ryan McCartan

Thomas Diaforous | Carson Elrod

Dr. Purgon | Arnie Burton

Dr. Diaforous | Arnie Burton

Dr. Fleurant | Arnie Burton

Monsieur De Bonnefoi | Lorenzo Pisoni

Stage Directions | Amelia Pedlow


Director | Jesse Berger

Adaptor | Jeffrey Hatcher

Stage Manager | Jenn McNeil

Assistant Stage Manager | Jessica Fornear

Translator and Scholar | Mirabelle Ordinaire

Music Director | Greg Pliska

Costume Consultant | Tilly Grimes

Prop Consultant | Lauren Russell
Speech Consultant | Deborah Hecht

Production Assistant | Joana Tsuhlares

Producing Director | Nathan Winkelstein

General Manager | Sherri Kotimsky

Casting Consultant | Stuart Howard

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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2024 | 7:30 PM ET

An interactive discussion on adapting Molière's The Imaginary Invalid, with host Nathan Winkelstein, playwright and adaptor Jeffrey Hatcher, translator Mirabelle Ordinaire, and Red Bull Theater Founder and Artistic Director Jesse Berger.

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Following the February 19 Revelation Reading | An interactive discussion of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid with director Jesse Berger; adaptor Jeffrey Hatcher; translator and scholar Mirabelle Ordinaire; Red Bull Theater Associate Artistic Director Nathan Winkelstein; and members of the company, Jordan Boatman, Arnie Burton, and Kelley Curran


Molière’s last years were laden with grief. In the months leading to his death he lost his lifelong friend and collaborator Madeleine Béjart, as well as a baby boy. His own health was rapidly deteriorating as his tuberculosis progressed, afflicting him with constant fits of coughing. His unhappy marriage was publicly ridiculed by rivals, and he fell victim to Lully’s machinations to discredit him in the eyes of Louis XIV. Lully therefore did not write the music for The Imaginary Invalid, nor was the play performed at court to celebrate the king’s victories in July 1672, as had been planned. Its incidental music was composed by Charpentier, and the play opened in February 1973 at the Theatre du Palais Royal instead; it was never performed for the king.


Yet in spite of all this, The Imaginary Invalid marks a return to the height of Molière’s comic genius. The play brings together some of the characters and situations that made the playwright so famous: a well-established central character blinded by his infatuation with a socially-respected but questionable institution (as in Tartuffe or The Bourgeois Gentleman), preyed upon by his second wife (Tartuffe), unjustly locking up his daughter to thwart her young love (The School for Wives), and ultimately fooled by his servant (The Miser and Tartuffe). And of course, it revolves around medicine. Was it that Molière never forgave doctors for being unable to save his mother when he was ten years old? Or were ignorant and over-confident doctors, like hypocrites or socially ambitious parasites, one of the most pervasive evils of his time, one that he felt the need to expose? If foolish and downright dangerously incompetent doctors are legion in his work, their caricature is brought to its apotheosis in the unforgettable pair of quacks that are Doctor Diafoirus senior and junior. However, in The Imaginary Invalid, the dying playwright and actor mocks not only bad doctors, but medicine itself — and in the middle of the play, he writes and enacts his own obituary and self-defense plea as a detractor of the discipline that, unlike theatre, had not yet mastered the art of making people feel better.

Ultimately, it is indeed the triumph of theatre that the play celebrates. Not only do the two young lovers meet and fall in love at the theatre, but they seal their romantic commitment in the final play-within-the-play, a mock medical initiation ritual replete with music and dance. Molière went as far as coining a new language for the scene, a mixture of French and Latin peppered with Italian and Spanish, which was (and still is) both entirely understandable to a French audience and hilariously funny in its mock-learnedness — not to mention nearly untranslatable! Ironically, it was during this staged ceremony that Molière felt the first pang of death during the play’s fourth performance; he died a few hours later. His wife did not have the play printed in order to maintain the troupe’s exclusive right to perform it. The Imaginary Invalid was only officially published in the 1682 posthumous edition of Molière’s complete works.


Jean-Baptiste Poquelin was born in Paris in 1622. Under the pseudonym Molière, he and Madeleine Béjart created a theatre troupe in 1643 called "The Illustrious Theatre." Their first shows were failures, and Molière was thrown into debtor’s prison. Upon his release he went on the road as the troupe's director, principal actor, and occasional playwright. In 1658 the troupe successfully mounted its first performance in front of King Louis XIV, and in 1659 The Affected Young Women launched Molière's career as a playwright. Molière and his players became the King's troupe in 1665, but some of the more religiously or socially virulent plays were not well received. Tartuffe (1664) and Dom Juan (1665) were both forbidden, and The Misanthrope (1666) enjoyed only mild success. That same year Molière wrote The Doctor In Spite of Himself, his most elaborate attempt to date at criticizing the medicine of his time, albeit in a farcical setting. The play was a big success, and from then on Molière focused on comedies up until his very last play, The Imaginary Invalid (1673), in which he played the lead role and derided, one last time, his contemporaries’ blind faith in what was then (and arguably still is) a very inexact science. During the fourth performance of the play Molière started coughing blood onstage; he finished the performance and died a few hours later. In 1680, by order of the King, his troupe was merged with two rival troupes to form the Comédie Française.


The Imaginary Invalid is one of Molière's most famous and oft-produced plays. Ironically, it has been produced in New York only four times, twice on Broadway, twice off-Broadway, and not in recent memory.  


As with any comedy written long ago and in a foreign language, it's vital that its translation into English, and in this case its adaptation, account for the difference between the core of the play -- its structure, characters, themes -- and its expression -- its dialogue and idiom. What was funny in the 17th century isn’t necessarily funny now, and what’s funny in French isn’t always funny in English. 


Most important, the play's central character, Monsieur Argan, must be played by an actor who is classically trained, a comedian and like-able. So many versions of The Imaginary Invalid make Argan a nasty fool. True, he is a fool, and he does things he shouldn't. He tries to marry his daughter to a doctor so he'll have free on-site healthcare for the rest of his life, and if she refuses he'll send her to a convent. But for the comedy to work, the audience must be engaged in Argan's story, so he must be played by an actor with whom the audience has a natural affinity. 


Mark Linn-Baker is that actor, and this adaptation will be tailored specifically to his persona and talents, along with those of the company of actors who support him. 


The play is famously about a hypochondriac who thinks he's at death's door. His imaginary illnesses blind him to the con men - and women (his new wife) - who use his weakness to fatten their purses. His hypochondria also affects his relationship with his daughter Angelique who wants to marry her lover, Cleante. The tropes and terminology of the play have to do with medicine, the body, physical, mental and spiritual health. Much of the original text concerns the state of medicine and chicanery in France circa 1672. 


Without updating or changing the setting of the play to the contemporary world, we want to have fun with notions of self-care, mindfulness, masks, vaccinations, therapies, spas, plastic surgery and cryogenics.  Argan's pathological solipsism resonates with our own post-pandemic concerns, our panic about illness, our obsession with or resistance to dictates from on high, and our search for miracle cures like Ivermectin and Hydroxychloroquine. Argan is just the sort of man who would use his wealth and position to make sure he got the first Covid test, the first vaccine, and if he got the virus, he'd see to it he had the best hospital suite and round-the-clock care - as if he were the President.


– Jeffrey Hatcher


Jeffrey Hatcher’s plays have been produced on Broadway, off-Broadway and in theaters throughout the United States and around the world.  At Red Bull, he has adapted Gogol’s The Government Inspector, Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, and the Elizabethan thriller Arden of Faversham (with Kathryn Walat).  His Broadway credits include Never Gonna Dance (book). Off-Broadway: Three Viewings and A Picasso at Manhattan Theatre Club; Scotland Road and The Turn of the Screw at Primary Stages; Tuesdays with Morrie (with Mitch Albom) at the Minetta Lane; Murder by Poe, The Turn of the Screw, and The Spy at The Acting Company; Lucky Duck (With Bill Russell and Henry Krieger) at the New Victory; and Neddy at American Place. Other plays include Compleat Female Stage Beauty, Mrs. Mannerly, Murderers, Mercy of a Storm, Smash, Korczak's Children, To Fool the Eye, Confederacy of Dunces, The Critic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Wait Until Dark, Dial M for Murder, Key Largo (with Andy Garcia) and others at The Guthrie, Old Globe, Yale Rep, The Geffen, Seattle Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, South Coast Rep, Arizona Theater Company, San Jose Rep, The Empty Space, Indiana Rep, Children’s Theater Company, History Theater, Madison Rep, Intiman, Illusion, Denver Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Milwaukee Rep, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Actors Theater of Louisville, Philadelphia Theater Company, Huntington, Shakespeare Theatre (D.C.), Asolo, City Theater, Studio Arena and dozens more. Film and television credits include Stage Beauty, Casanova, The Duchess, Mr. Holmes, and episodes of “Columbo” and "The Mentalist." Grants/awards: NEA, TCG, Lila Wallace Fund, Rosenthal New Play Prize, Frankel Award, Charles MacArthur Fellowship Award, McKnight Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Barrymore Award Best New Play, and IVEY Award Best New Play. He is a member and/or alumnus of The Playwrights Center, the Dramatists Guild, the Writers Guild, and New Dramatists.


French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is the home of francophone cultures and French language: a beacon from New York to the world. As an independent, not-for-profit organization, FIAF is committed to providing our audience and students with engaging French language classes and audacious multi-disciplinary programming that celebrates the diversity of francophone cultures and creativity around the world. 

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