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Access Type

Open Access

Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Theater, Directing, Ritual, Moliere, Congdon, Commedia, Pascola


This thesis describes how the experimental process of exploring ritual as a foundation for creating contemporary theater can be applied to staging a classical European play, in this case, Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid, adapted by Constance Congdon. Based on research into the influences of Commedia Dell’ Arte in Molière’s plays, the directorial concept of “Mask and Duplicity” influenced all the artistic areas of the production and design (costume, sound, lighting and set). The process described includes the development of a physical vocabulary with the actors, exploring animal movements based on “The Dance of the Deer” (a hunting ritual from the Mayo and Yaqui traditions in Mexico), and Commedia Dell’ Arte character archetypes. In addition, this thesis supports character analysis with research on the phases of Carnival and the structure of rites of passage (separation, transition and reintegration), and how these ritual elements were applied to the blocking and choreography of the play. As a result of the exploration and the use of ritualistic structures, The Imaginary Invalid had two stories happening at the same time: the public story, what the audience gets from the flow of the text; and the private story, a rite of passage that happens within the narrative of The Imaginary Invalid.

First Advisor

Gilbert McCauley

Second Advisor

Milan Dragicevich