Playwright Robert Caisley listened to the job offer with pen in hand, scribbling notes on a hotel notepad. It was a daunting task: adapt Moliere's Tartuffe, framing the pious con man in the center of a political campaign that mirrored the 2016 election. He would need to produce a text that was true to the play's intentions, was funny and understandable, in lines actors could enjoy delivering. The pitch was coming from Stephanie Gularte of American Stage, which opens Tartuffe on Friday.
Caisley, who teaches dramatic literature at the University of Idaho, had directed and taught the Moliere classic. He had tackled translations and knew that the most pressing difficulty for adapting Moliere is the playwright's use of rhyming couplets in Alexandrine verse, which contains 12 syllables a line.
"This metrical form can prove a painfully monotonous experience to the English-speaking ear," Caisley said. "Not to mention how a translator has to awkwardly shoehorn words into a meter to fit the rhyme scheme, rather than the meaning of the line."
Turns out, Gularte wanted her version in prose. He took the job.
The show runs through Nov. 20. 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39-$60. (727) 823-7529. americanstage.org.
HER OWN DRUMMER: LINDSEY STIRLING
Since her debut on America's Got Talent in 2010, Lindsey Stirling has taken the world by storm. The gliding, dub-stepping violinist launched her first album near the top of the Billboard charts, and her career has not subsided since. She has done all of this without having answered questions most artists start out with: What is your genre, and who is your audience?
Is she classical or pop, or vaguely New Age inspirational? Maybe a true artist doesn't have to know. The enigmatic performer swings through Clearwater with her sold-out show at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
BE COUNTED: Dracula
Finally, a Halloween show that's actually about something ghoulish. Tampa Ballet Theatre performs Dracula on Saturday, a three-act extravaganza with wolves, vampires and the lord of the undead. Artistic director and choreographer Lindsay Clark has pledged to tell Bram Stoker's original story "the way it was meant to be told." 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $15-$50. (727) 791-7400. tampaballettheatre.org.
RAW AND REAL: CARLOS MENCIA
The public and sometimes painful journey of Carlos Mencia has been a unique one. Mencia, the Honduran-born comic whose Mind of Mencia show lasted four years on Comedy Central, comes to the Tampa Improv this weekend. He has reached significant heights, with more than a dozen film and television appearances, including HBO specials. Once known for a harsh edge ("America is such a great country, we have fat poor people"), controversial topics and clashes with other comics. A low point came in 2007, after performers accused him of lifting jokes from Bill Cosby and others, which Mencia denied. In 2010, the Wall Street Journal called him one of three "most hated" comics in the industry (with Jay Leno and Dane Cook). Mencia lost 70 pounds, entered therapy and emerged with a softer tone. He has performed frequently for the military, and billed himself as "the Richard Pryor of Hispanic culture." 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday. 1600 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. $40. (813) 864-4000. improvtampa.com.
RAY CHARLES TRIBUTE: FLORIDA ORCHESTRA
The Florida Orchestra continues its popular Raymond James Pops series this weekend with a tribute to Ray Charles, starring the versatile singer and pianist Ellis Hall. Blind since age 18, Hall has worked with Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Natalie Cole, Toby Keith, Herbie Hancock and Charles himself. The concert, "Ray Charles, Motown and Beyond," will feature Hall running through old favorites including I Can't Stop Loving You, Unchain My Heart, Hit the Road, Jack and Georgia on My Mind. 8 p.m. Friday at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa, 8 p.m. Saturday at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater. $15-$45. (727) 892-3331. floridaorchestra.org.