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The Importance of Being Earnest: An Overview of This Year’s Fall Play

This fall, the Newman Players presented Oscar Wilde’s comedy The Importance of Being Earnest. The play revolves around Jack and Algernon, two Englishmen who have succeeded in living double lives. That is, until their personas become revealed to one another and Jack falls in love with Algernon’s cousin, Gwendolyn, and Algernon falls in love with Jack’s ward, Cecily. Things quickly spiral out of control when Algernon takes on the persona of Jack’s imaginary brother Earnest and travels to Jack’s estate, throwing everyone into a series of dramatic and hilarious events which culminate in a big surprise.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Oscar Wilde’s writing never fails to connect with readers, performers, and audiences to an immeasurably relevant extent, and this quote from The Importance of Being Earnest is no exception. Not only does it summarize the plot of the play, but it also summarizes exactly what it took to bring it to life.

This play was anything but simple to perform, especially considering it was first performed in 1895, but our director Mrs. Newcomer decided to give the play a modern twist, setting it in the present day. From learning British accents to learning how to properly deliver a line, it took an enormous amount of effort from everyone involved to bring it to the level that it was. Considering this was only my second play, it was a challenge, and definitely a big step up in terms of difficulty from last year’s musical, The Addams Family. For instance, the jokes in the musical were much more obvious, whereas the jokes in this year’s play were very sharp and sometimes hard to decipher if one does not fully understand the subtlety of the line. It took weeks to perfect how to deliver the punch lines, which often came down to seemingly minute details such as the pitch of our voice or the length of a pause between lines. It’s amazing to see the difference a few seconds of silence can make on how the audience will react, and I must thank Mrs. Newcomer for teaching the cast this valuable lesson in acting. Of course, there were scenes with very obvious humor (one of my favorites involved the brilliantly talented Charlie Smith stuffing English muffins into his mouth while delivering a slew of lines), and the audience expressed their entertainment with uncontrollable laughter. In my opinion, the play turned out to be an experience worth participating in, not only for the cast and crew, but for the audience as well. Indeed, my favorite part of being in the play is being able to see the audience enjoy our hard work, and on behalf of everyone involved in The Importance of Being Earnest we would like to sincerely thank all of those who came to the performances.

 

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