All around campus floral posters are hung up advertising the theatre department’s new production of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which is different from the department’s usual productions, according to play director Dr. David Skeele.
“‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ was written as a melodrama, to make fun of plays performed [back] in the day,” Skeele said.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” is a Victorian romantic comedy written by Oscar Wilde, who was a part of high society, but understood that there was another side to the parties and properness, according to Skeele.
The play is about two men who carry on secret lives with the name Earnest, and how the girls they love believe that they are to marry someone named Earnest, causing confusion to ensue. This comedy is different than past productions because the style of acting is completely different.
“Oscar Wilde was deliriously in love with words, so the actors need to be in love with words,” Skeele said.
This production is tied completely to a particular time and place, making also the humor drier, rather than outright hilarious, according to Skeele. One of the classic pieces of humor used is when the actors lead the audience to a certain outcome, Skeele explained, and at the last second take a complete detour and mean the exact opposite.
Along with the change of style with their latest production, the theatre department is going through a change of location from Miller Auditorium to the University Union’s Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) due to the ongoing renovation of the Auditorium. This change created some obstacles for different aspects of theatrical production such as the lighting, according to the lighting director, Zachary Burler.
“In the Union we had to create our own lighting positions,” Burler explained.
New equipment needed to be rented to create the desire effect to create the play atmosphere, according to Burler. In this production there are about three different locations that all require different sets of lighting, Burler said, a study-like area, a garden, and a library.
“We worked hard to create simple lighting that is realistic but not dull and boring,” Burler said.
One of the more vibrant and comedic characters in “The Importance of Being Earnest” is Lady Bracknell, played by Nick Benninger.
Lady Bracknell is the mother of Gwendolyn, the young girl that is in love with Jack or Earnest. Lady Bracknell does not approve of the relationship and is often portrayed as a more masculine figure, according to Skeele, hence why a male actor often plays the character.
“I watched period films to get my accent,” Benninger said, “and I wore women’s undergarments and heels, so I can rehearse how I would carry myself, since I would play a woman.”
Skeele said “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a play that is meant to be fun and humorous, and that he hopes the audience leaves laughing and roots for the younger generation and for young love.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” opens tonight in the MPR at 7:30 p.m., and will continue November 11 through November 15 at 7:30 p.m. A matinee show will also be held on November 11 at 2:00 p.m.
For tickets, visit the Robert Smith Student Center information desk, or call the SRU Theatre box office at 724-738-2645.