As much as Tina Packer loves Molière’s The Learned Ladies, it has been three decades since she directed this outrageous 1672 masterwork. (In French, Les Femmes Savantes.) Many find the humor in it heavily ironic, at least until the plot thickens. A satire on academic pretention, female education, and préciosité, it turns out that the erudition of these ladies of learning is superficial at best.
She last tackled this play just prior to Shakespeare & Company’s first performance season in 1978, when Packer undertook the job, in conjunction with the Smith College Theatre Department where she was a guest director. The translation chosen for that production was a new English verse translation by Richard Wilbur, Smith’s then Writer-in-Residence. It is still one of the most popular translations of this classic play.
The Learned Ladies marks Packers’ first production as a director with S&Co. since helming the critically acclaimed productions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Joan Ackerman’s The Taster in 2010. The Learned Ladies runs February 3 through March 25, 2012 in S&Co.’s Bernstein Theatre.