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Steven Culp in "The School for Wives"

April 12 - April 15, 1978

College of William and Mary: Phi Beta Kappa Hall, Williamsburg, VA

Playwright by Jean-Baptiste Molière Alain - Steven Culp
Directed by Jerry Bledsoe Arnolphe - Dylan Baker
n/a - Amy Ziff
n/a - Karen Tolson
n/a - Jefferson Sage


Arnolphe, the main protagonist, is a man of 42 years who has groomed the young Agnès since the age of 4. Arnolphe supports Agnès living in a nunnery until the age of 17, when he removes her and moves her to one of his abodes. His intention is to bring up Agnès in such a manner that she will be too ignorant to be unfaithful to him and he becomes obsessed with avoiding this fate. To this end, he tells the nuns who are instructing her from teaching her anything that might lead her astray. Right from the very first scene, Chrysalde warns Arnolphe of his downfall, but Arnolphe takes no heed.

After Agnès moves into Arnolphe's house, Horace arrives on the scene ahead of his father, Arnolphe's friend, Oronte. Horace immediately falls in love with Agnès and she with him. Not realizing that Arnolphe and Monsieur de la Souche are the same person, Horace unwittingly confides all his activities with Agnès to Arnolphe. Arnolphe then schemes to outmaneuver Horace and ensure that Agnès will marry him.

Arnolphe becomes more and more frustrated as the play goes on. Agnès continues to meet with Horace despite Arnolphe's displeasure until, finally, a misunderstanding leads Arnolphe to believe that Agnès has agreed to marry him and Agnès to believe that Arnolphe has given her permission to marry Horace. When they realize the actual situation, Arnolphe forbids Agnès from seeing Horace. Horace, in his distress, comes to Arnolphe, asking for his help in rescuing Agnès from "Monsieur de la Souche".

The final act introduces a powerful irony as Oronte and Enrique arrive on the scene and announce that Horace is to marry Enrique's daughter. The daughter turns out to be Agnès, rendering all of Arnolphe's scheming useless.

(August 17, 1999,, by Robert Simonson)

Excerpt from the article "PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Dylan Baker"

Dylan Baker: One the first things I ever did, at William and Mary, was Moliere's School for Wives. I was way too young and I got cast in this lead. It was a great training ground for an actor; kind of being thrown onto the stage and, "OK, now do something for two hours." (Laughs.) "And come up with something different or people are going to start yawning."

(March 1, 2001, W&M, by Jackson Sasser)

Excerpt from the article "'Thirteen Days', Three Alums - Former William and Mary students Baker, Culp and Esten headline film exploring the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962"

The last stage Dylan Baker and Steven Culp '78 shared--in school, performing Molière's "The School for Wives"--was a front-to-back farce full of "choreographed crashing doors, falling down, getting beaten," recalls Jerry Bledsoe, director and professor of theatre, speech and dance.

Boy, have they grown up.

To read the full article, click here.

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