Ask people to name a common flaw in modern society, and you'll probably hear a lack of manners.
It's a centuries-old problem among people, because playwright/actor Moliere saw the same flaw in 17th-century French society and wrote a play about it called The Misanthrope.
Fast forward to 2010. People are still critical, moralistic and quick to show bad manners, which prompted playwright Samuel Buggeln to take a more modern tack to Moliere's story, calling it Hater.
Columbia Basin College will bring Hater to the stage opening May 15 in the theater on the Pasco campus.
"Hater is a modern translation of The Misanthrope, a comedy of manners," said Ronn Campbell, the play's director. "Though the characters are quite serious about their actions, the audience will find the situations humorous."
"My first exposure to this play was at Humboldt State University, where I responded to the cast and crew of a production of this very play. I thoroughly loved it. The playwright Samuel Buggeln was in attendance, and I got a chance to talk with him and discuss the connections that a play written in the 17th century has on today's society," Campbell said.
Hater employs free verse and a contemporary vernacular to make Moliere's glaring argumentation a hilarious comedy. The characters have been described by theater critics as full of hateful thoughts yet hopelessly in love.
There's Alex, played by Daniel Sanders of Kennewick, who rejects social convention, making him unpopular among his peers who see him as superficial. But despite his weirdness, Alex falls in love with the high-spirited Celine, played by Alexis Klippert of Kennewick, a notorious flirt whose behavior epitomizes the manners Alex despises.
Surprisingly, Alex does have admirers -- the moralistic Zinnia, played by Rebecca Kelly of Richland, and the righteous Liane, played by Jordan Rawlings of Richland.
But when Alex insults a poem written by the powerful noble Ron, played by Lee Hector of Prosser, Alex must stand trial because he refuses to dole out false compliments.
Other key players in Hater are Phil, played by Kevin Gravitt of Burbank; Cashin, played by Ricardo Orta of Grandview; Clinton played by Deven Austin of Benton City; Woody, played by Brittney Case of Pasco; Basque, played by Caitlin Hunter of West Richland; and Guard, played by Chris Garcia of Pasco.
All performances start at 7:30 p.m. May 15-17 with a 2 p.m. matinee May 18. Admission is $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens. CBC students are free. Buy tickets at the door. Find advance tickets at Adventures Underground in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland or J.D.'s Time Center in Kennewick.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal