Savannah's Theatre Blog

Finding Madame Pernelle – Preparation and Process

Posted in Uncategorized by Savannah on June 14, 2010

I felt status was the most important aspect to look at when finding Madame Pernelle’s character. To do this, I first needed to look at the family ties. Below is a flow chart showing the family tree of the predominant family in Tartuffe as well as what we can view as the extended family.


Watching Tartuffe

Watching a filmed version of Tartuffe gave me great ideas for what I could do for my character. Also, I saw potential intentions that other actors in my class might choose to play. What I took from the film was Madame Pernelle’s sense of power and high status.

– Learning lines/scripts: The process began with familiarising ourselves with Tartuffe and when this was achieved – learning the lines. I found this fairly easy despite the short amount of time. This was mainly due to having not many lines but also because of my preparation I understood my character well so learning the actual lines became a detail for me rather than the main portion. What was difficult, was other members of the cast not knowing their lines and that they weren’t trying to save themselves; it made me feel insecure about my lines and I would occasionally drop them.

– Blocking. I was not involved in many scenes and for those which I was involved in the blocking on my part was minimal. For the most part, I was sitting in a chair on Tartuffe’s side of the room (to show that Madame Pernelle was on his side), standing when her emotions climaxed. This was something which assisted me with characterisation; that stillness enabled her strength to come through me.

The standing was mainly at points of extreme anger such as: “There! That’s the kind of rigmarole to please you, daughter in law.” There was one exception to this rule in the very last scene where Madame Pernelle connects with the family. This was represented by Elmire guiding Madame Pernelle from Tartuffe’s chair to the bench on the opposite side of the stage where the rest of the family was seated.

Something else which helped with characterisation was that I did not make an entrance as Madame Pernelle. She was seated when the lights came up. I could have interpreted this in a number of ways but I felt that it was symbolic of her high status. She never assembled around others she was much more important than them. She carefully avoided the fact that they (other characters; Orgon, Elmire, etc.) never assembled around her. This was because she had a false vision that she was better than those surrounding her.



  • Speed run – A speed run is running through the entire play at high speed. This meant that our lines and cues to happen at an extreme rate. It was how we found energy as well as comic and dramatic timing.
  • Tech run and dress rehearsal – A tech run involves running through the play but using such things as lighting and sound. This meant that some of the original blocking had to be changed so we were in the light, etc.

A dress rehearsal is in costume and with all technical equipment. It is like the performance night only without the audience. Throughout the tech run and the dress rehearsal we began use of the porch (a thrust out of the stage) but the change in blocking was minimal.

***I realise that most of this is taken directly from my IPP but it was my process so I figured it should be included and put to use***


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: