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Molière's School for Wives

CLASSIC COMEDY

School for Wives
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THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES is available as a SCHOOL PLAY PACK. See Licensing Tab below for more info.


Arnolphe has groomed his young ward Agnes to be the perfect, faithful, subservient wife. Now that she has turned 18, he will ask for her hand in marriage—which she will give gladly, of course—and he will no longer live in fear of the mockery and embarrassment that comes with a wife’s “independence.” All seems to go according to plan, until a handsome young man serendipitously crosses Agnes’ path. With his manhood and his reputation at stake, can Arnolphe change his curriculum and lure her back, or will Agnes’ love for the “wrong” man, despite all her schooling, prevail?


SYNOPSIS


Act I:

Returning from a business trip, Arnolphe brags to his good friend, Chrysale, about plans to marry his long-time ward, Agnes. Given the way that Arnolphe has mocked husbands with cheating wives over the years, Chrysale warns that he is opening himself up to their revenge, should his own, much younger wife begin to stray, but Arnolphe has taken special precautions: adopting Agnes at the age of four, he has kept her ignorant of the corruptions of society by sequestering her in a convent over the years. Even now, he keeps her away from society, watched over by ignorant servants in an alternate home, where he is known simply by his assumed title, “Monsieur de la Souche.” Arnolphe briefly visits with Agnes, who has spent her time dutifully mending shirts and caps while he was away. Back in the street, he encounters Horace, the son of an old friend, who presents him with a note from his father, requesting financial support. Arnolphe gladly loans him a purse of money, but, unaware of Arnolphe’s assumed name, Horace reports his fascinated attraction to the young woman who lives in the nearby home of the mysterious “Monsieur de la Souche.” He confesses that the servants have allowed him in to visit with the girl, and laughs over the “jealous boob” who has locked her away. He assures Arnolphe that he will put his money to good use, in winning the girl away from her foolish guardian.

Act II:

Infuriated, Arnolphe returns to his “la Souche” home, attacking the confused servants for their negligence. He delicately interviews Agnes, who readily admits meeting Horace. She recounts how Horace, in passing below her balcony, would bow to her repeatedly, a courtesy that she would return on each repeated pass. But when an old woman complained that this young man was now suffering a broken heart from their encounter, she let him in to the home, where Horace presented gifts for herself as well as the servants, stirring her unfamiliar heart with words of love, and chaste kisses on her arms and hands. Arnolphe fears that Horace might have taken something “more than kisses,” but Agnes admits only to giving him a ribbon, while wondering what these “other things” might be. Arnolphe warns that this guest was attempting to lead her into “mortal sin,” explaining that these joys are only permissible when a couple is wedded. Agnes insists, “well, then wed me right away!” and Arnolphe readily agrees, but, when he finds Agnes actually wants is to be wed to Horace, he grows infuriated, shaming her. He insists that she rebuff any further approaches by dropping a stone on the boy from her balcony.

Act III:

Arnolphe commends Agnes for successfully rebuffing Horace with the dropped stone, and proceeds to make plans for their marriage. He lectures her about the proper duties of a wife toward her husband, warning her against the cauldrons of Hell. He shares with her a pamphlet intended to instruct young wives on “The Maxims of a Marriage,” and encourages her to read aloud the rules restricting a woman’s indiscreet behavior, denouncing all fancy dress, cosmetics, correspondence, gambling, and public entertainments. Alone, Arnolphe delights in his success, even as Horace arrives to lament the return of “de la Souche,” who seems to have forced Agnes to drop a stone on him from her balcony. The good news, however, is that Agnes attached a letter to the stone that she dropped, declaring her love, and complaining of her cruel imprisonment. Horrified, Arnolphe cuts their conversation short, resolving to confront Agnes over her betrayal.

Act IV:

Arnolphe returns, shaken from his confrontation with Agnes, who brazenly returned his silent stare. Disturbed by his increasing fondness for his disobedient ward, Arnolphe talks to himself, even as the Notary arrives to draw up their marriage pact. Too distracted to hear any of the Notary’s replies to his random mutterings, and put off by the Notary’s unawareness of the situation, Arnolphe sends him away, and the Notary assumes Arnolphe must be crazy. Arnolphe play-acts a scene with his servants to make sure they rebuff any of Horace’s advances or bribes, and the servants demonstrate their fidelity by calling Arnolphe all of the rude names that they plan to call Horace, even as they pocket Arnolphe’s money. Horace returns, revealing that Agnes beckoned him to sneak into the home through the back way, pushing him off into a corner when her guardian, “de la Souche,” arrived. Even though Horace could not see from his hiding place, he could hear the guardian’s petulant behavior, kicking the dog and throwing things about the room. He explains his plans to return that night with a ladder, climbing up to Agnes’ balcony to steal her away. Chrysalde returns, once again attempting to convince the disturbed Arnolphe that such infidelities are not the worst thing a husband might face, but Arnolphe proceeds to enlist the servants to repel Horace’s ascent to the balcony by battering him with sticks.

Act V:

Arnolphe is in a panic: his servants, swinging at Horace in the dark, seem to have killed the boy. As Arnolphe is trying to figure out how to explain this to the boy’s father, Horace finds Arnolphe in the dark. He recounts how an inadvertent slip off the ladder saved him from the servants’ blows, and how Agnes came out to find him lying in the dark, and now refuses to return, wanting to run off and elope instead. Fearful that their pre-marital companionship may stir some scandal (and still oblivious to Arnolphe’s dual identity), he asks Arnolphe to watch over Agnes, passing her back to her guardian in the dark. Alone with her once again, Arnolphe shames Agnes for her brazenness, and is shocked to hear her talking back, refusing any disgrace for her behavior. Arnolphe insists that she owes him a large debt for her upbringing, she counters that his investment must have been fairly minimal, given that she grew up learning virtually nothing about the outside world. Arnolphe recoils from his own impulse toward violence, and breaks down, expressing forgiveness and love, promising her jewels, dresses, and frivolous pleasures. When she remains unmoved, he resorts to locking her away once more. Horace returns with news that his father, Oronte, has arrived, apparently with plans to marry him off to the daughter of the mysterious “Enrique.” Arnolphe agrees to help him, but when the men arrive, Arnolphe insists that Oronte force his son to obey the commands of his father. Shocked by this sudden betrayal, Horace finally realizes that Arnolphe and “Monsieur de la Souche” are the same person. Arnolphe scoffs over Horace’s failed elopement, but, attempting to depart with Agnes, learns that Agnes is actually the daughter of Enrique who, having left his infant daughter behind to make his fortune in the new world, has now returned to match the daughter to the son of his best friend, Oronte. Arnolphe runs off howling incoherently, and Chrysalde reflects on the good care that Heaven has taken, to see the girl returned to her father, and mated to her true love.

QUOTE



Characters:

Arnolphe – Sometimes presenting himself under the title “Monsieur de la Souche.”

Agnes – Brought up as ward to Arnolphe.

Horace – Son of Oronte, in love with Agnes.

Chrysalde – Friend to Arnolphe.

Enrique – Brother-in-law to Chrysalde.

Oronte – Horace’s father, and friend to Arnolphe.

Notary

Alain – A peasant, servant to Arnolphe.

Georgette – Peasant, servant to Arnolphe.

Casting Note: At least one of the male characters (the Notary) could be played by a woman, and the actor playing that role might also be double-cast in another part, reducing the total cast to eight.

Setting: A house and garden in a small square in an outlying town.

Performance Royalties for AMATEUR and EDUCATIONAL Groups begin at $90.00 per performance for theaters under 150 seats, and rise depending on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

Performance Royalties for PROFESSIONAL Theaters will be quoted as a box office percentage, with a minimum guarantee based on ticket prices and theater particulars. Please fill out an application for your personalized quote.

An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement (see Materials).

Billing responsibilities, pertinent copyright information, and playwrights' biographies are available in the show rider that comes with your license agreement.


THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES is available as a SCHOOL PLAY PACK, providing everything you need to rehearse, produce, and present the show at your school. All materials provided as digital downloads.

Each SCHOOL PLAY PACK includes:

  • All performance rights to rehearse, perform live and/or stream (up to six performances)
  • Production Script (Digital-PDF) with rights to make sufficient copies for each cast and crew member on your production team.
  • Stage Manager’s Script with extra space for notes and cues (Digital-PDF) with rights to make sufficient copies for each stage manager, director and technical crew member on your production team.
  • Official Logo Pack (JPG, PNG & PDF formats)
  • Teacher Packet of Sample Forms (A variety of blank sample forms for you to adapt for your own production.)

Pay one price – get it all! When payment is complete, the payment confirmation page provides a download link for instant access to all materials. The link to materials will also be available in your account under MY PERUSALS.

SCHOOL PLAY PACKS are only available and authorized for Public and Private Schools and Educational Institutions. By purchasing the School Play Pack, you are entering into a contract, and thereby affirm you have authorization from your Educational Institution to purchase, utilize and distribute the materials as described herein.

The SCHOOL PLAY PACK for this show is $500

An Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package must be purchased from Stage Rights as a part of your licensing agreement. Your materials will be sent to you two months prior to your opening date, unless other arrangements have been made in advance with your Stage Rights Licensing Representative.

The Authorized Materials/Rehearsal Package
for The School For Wives consists of:
17 Production Scripts / $200.00 (shipping included)

Production Scripts for Plays are professionally printed and bound with a full-color cover.

You will have the option to purchase additional Production Scripts at a discounted rate when you complete your Licensing Agreement.

Official Logo Pack Now Included! To help you promote your show, Stage Rights now includes a logo pack with your license. The logo pack includes high resolution versions (both color and black and white) of our show logo. The logo is the portion of the artwork with the title of the show. The surrounding artwork is also available for an additional fee.

Optional Materials:

Stage Manager’s Script – Printed on standard 8.5” x 11” 3-hole-punched paper, with the same page numbers and text as the Printed Production Scripts, but with more space on the page for notes and cues.

School Play Pack – See Licensing Tab for Full Description. If purchasing the School Play Pack, there are no additional purchases required.