Sixty Years of Sganarelle

Moliere’s comedy Le Médecin Malgré Lui has been around since 1666, and productions have featured spanking (as distinct from wife-beating) since at least 1918, but inevitably it’s in more recent times that the business is easier to document. Our latest return visit to the play covers the last half a century (well, just a little more, actually) and includes examples from all but one decade from that period.

We begin at Arizona State College in 1965, where John Hall is whacking Jessica Barlow:

At Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 1971, the play was adapted by Aurand Harris for the Young People’s Theatre group and performed by a mostly female cast, including Kathleen Proctor as Sganarelle and Peggy Mattice as Martine, seen here reacting to a whacking:

For those who prefer spanking to whacking (and who doesn’t?), here’s one from Lima, Ohio, with Jim Pauff and Barbara Pretsman:

And a rather dark shot from the Continental Theatre of Hutchinson, Kansas:

From 1972, a production by Theatre 31 of Park Forest, Illinois, with Michael Moormann spanking Kathie Baillies:

From 1974, a production that toured high schools in North Carolina, with Denise Elsner as Martine:

And in a production of the John Jakes musical adaptation Doctor, Doctor! at Salina, Kansas, David Stump spanks Val Reynolds:

From 1975, the touring Moliere Repertory Theater proudly presents Milo Pergotizzi whacking Anita Crooks:

Down to Austin, Texas, in 1977, Elizabeth Bove gets whacked by Walter Hamscher:

And from California State College in 1978, Janet Elam gets a spectacular whacking from Mark Wilkerson:

And before we leave the 1970s, it’s worth quoting a review of an inventive student production, also from 1978, at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, for which we sadly don’t have a photograph:

‘The quality of directing was also evident in the opening scene in which an enraged Sganarelle chases his wife, Martine, around the stage in order to give her a spanking. She is wearing a number of petticoats, and at each corner of the stage he catches her, lifts another skirt and spanks to no avail, until he reaches the last layer when the furor of his beating is finally felt.’

For those who want to know, David Condon played Sganarelle, and it was Felisha McNeal who had her skirts progressively removed until she finally got spanked on… well, there’s the intriguing question!

Into the 1980s we go, and here’s a Polish production from 1984, with Grazyna Pawlaczyk being spanked by Edward Kalisz:

But the pace is slackening somewhat: we’re decisively after the Great Shift of Taste that began in the 1960s, but before the internet opened up all shades of humanity in the 21st century. And that means we now slide out of lean times and into the empty trough of the 1990s. Perhaps it’s telling, too, that our examples from the decades on either side of that chasm both come from Eastern Europe, which is usually more relaxed about spanking than the west. From 2006, we have an open-air performance in Romania with a rather vigorous spanking:

(Video here.)

From Rennes in 2014, at the actors’ collective Théâtre des Lucioles, the scene is shot from a distance with Sganarelle’s back to the audience:

(Video here.)

Russia, 2016, and a production that seems to have developed the spanking business from a certain ballet of our acquaintance, as you can see here

He foils her escape attempts by catching her by the skirt, just as Widow Simone does to Lise in La Fille Mal Gardée.

Now we pass into 2019, a year that is actually more chronologically recent than it now seems, and Médecin seems to be all over over the world – sans frontières, you might think! But actually we’re mainly looking at two continents. Here’s a production in Chile:

(Video here.)

In Brazil, with João Rodrigues and Marina Louise, where it’s explicitly a marital game:

(Video here.)

In Costa Rica, at the Teatro en el Aula:

From Poland, a school production with what sounds like a pretty hard-spanking Sganarelle:

(Video here.)

In Romania:

And back home in La Belle France:

On to 2020, and we have an upright whacking in Colombia:

(Video here.)

In Italy, with another female Sganarelle:

(Video here.)

And in Greece:

Back to Chile in 2021, at the Baul Azul Teatro:

(Video here.)

At the Pushkin Classic Theater in Moscow:

The video is here. And while we’re in Russia:

So much of the play’s 21st-century spanking history seems to come from the laid-back countries of Latin America and Continental Europe – a heartfelt hurrah for them! But what of the anxious English-speaking world? Out of chronological order, but in the interests of finishing on a nice one, here’s a 2009 production at a community college in Virginia:

We hope to see more like it!

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