Molière in the Park (MIP) is a theater company founded by Artistic Director Lucie Tiberghien. Molière in the Park is dedicated to showcasing free versions of the writer’s work to attendees of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. As the city slowly comes out of the Covid lockdown, MIP collaborated with the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), the Prospect Park Alliance, and the LeFrak Center at Lakeside to present three free staged readings of Molière’s “Tartuffe” from May 26 – 30. The performances marked MIP’s return to live in-person theater at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center.
“Tartuffe” follows a bible-thumping crook who makes a deal with a gullible mark. An exploration of money, power, and fleshly sins, Molière’s 17th century work still resonates today.
Lucie founded Molière in the Park in 2018 to realize her desire to democratize access to theater and bring free productions to Brooklyn on a regular basis. Since then, the theater company has earned praise from many publications, including The New York Times.
Lucie recently discussed MIP via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first discover your love for the theater and how did you break into the industry?
Lucie Tiberghien (LT): I started my career as a dancer in France and Switzerland where I grew up. I then slowly turned to choreography and eventually, directing theater became my main and only focus. The art form was at the crossroads of dance, storytelling, language and political engagement, all of which were areas of deep interest. I didn’t start working as a director until late in my twenties. After associate directing for a few years, I started developing new plays and working with emerging and established playwrights.
MM: What is it about Moliere, in particular, that so interests you?
LT: His ability to capture our humanity in all its fragility, its quirks, its loneliness, its hilariousness. There is something unifying about his plays. In his work, we can see ourselves, especially if the plays are done in a contemporary and inclusive way.
MM: Out of all his works, which are your favorites and why?
LT: Currently, my favorite play of Molière’s is “Tartuffe.” After four years of Trump and his acolytes who represent the epitome of hypocrisy, I relish in how beautifully, ragefully, and hilariously that play captures such despicable human behavior.
MM: How did you start MIP and find places to put on the shows?
LT: I was greatly helped early on by Jerome Barth who put me in touch with The LeFrak Center at Lakeside and Prospect Park Alliance. Itai Shoffman, whose company Upsilon Venture runs LeFrak, immediately loved the idea of free theater on their premises. Once the partnership and the venue were secured, it was easier to begin raising the money. Garth Belcon, MIP’s co-founding executive producer, also played a key role in building the company from the ground up. He and I are both passionate about expanding access to theater, we are driven by the same desire to see more people of diverse backgrounds enjoy the art form that we both love.
MM: How did Brooklyn’s Prospect Park become your primary location?
LT: I always wondered why Brooklyn didn’t have its own version of Shakespeare in the Park. Brooklyn is such an exciting, vibrant, culturally rich borough. There was really no reason why it wouldn’t also have its own annual, free outdoor theater program. Prospect Park was an obvious choice given it was also designed by Olmsted and shares many of Central Park’s great features.
MM: What sorts of reactions have you gotten from audiences?
LT: Many are discovering the works of Molière and find it surprisingly funny, accessible, joyful and yet also biting and appropriately critical of the establishment.
MM: Is it tough to make this work suitable for all ages?
LT: The plays can be understood on many levels and usually have a strong storyline running through them. So if some of the more language-heavy or intellectual passages will go over the heads of a younger audience, the story can retain their attention.
MM: What are the biggest challenges associated with outdoor theater?
LT: Unpredictability. We are still learning how to adapt to bad weather. It’s very lucky that LeFrak Center has a covered rink as well. We can move under there, when it rains, but how will we do that when we have a full-scale production? I am not sure. It’s a work in progress.
MM: What has been the best thing about working in the theater industry so far?
LT: Collaboration with incredible actors, writers, designers and producers. We share a passion, a faith in the power of theater and storytelling. We come from different backgrounds but we have that in common, and learning from my collaborators is at the heart of the joy theater brings me.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to discuss?
LT: We just closed Tartuffe and are already thinking about the fall, and next spring. It’s exciting to imagine what will come next and we look forward to sharing our plans, as soon as we can.
Join MIP in person and safely distanced, outside at Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center in Brooklyn (enter at 171 East Drive between Ocean Ave & Lincoln Road). For more info visit https://www.moliereinthepark.org