Published: April 28, 2018
Arts and Life Co-Editor
The University Players will debut their fourth and final production of the semester, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Friday.
Oscar Wilde’s play follows the life of Jack Worthing, guardian to Cecily Cardew, who claims to have a troublesome brother Ernest whom he “visits” to evade responsibility. The creation of Ernest, which in reality is Jack’s alibi when travelling to the country, allows Jack to disappear for days at a time to pursue the doings he is unable to on a regular basis at home. To no surprise, “Ernest” induces a number of questions from Jack’s family and friends. Jack’s good friend, Algernon Moncrieff, similarly has an invalid acquaintance named “Bunbury:” an “ill friend” to visit whenever Algernon wants to avoid mundane or unpleasant social obligations. By the conclusion of the play, Algernon and Jack are forced to face the awkward situations of their alibis and imaginary beings.
The role of Algernon will be played by sophomore Conor Hurley.
“I’m looking forward most to being the funny guy on stage,” Hurley said. “I’m looking forward to delighting the audience if I can.”
Because the play is set in London during the 1890s, the Player’s had to step outside their comfort zones and work a little harder, in different ways than usual, when preparing for production.
“This show is very different for us because it takes place in 1895, and we don’t usually do period pieces like that,” senior Bri Kelley said. “So we had to do a lot of research.”
The Players researched 18th century fashion, dialect, mannerisms and etiquette, to assure accuracy and naturalness.
“(The) first two weeks of rehearsal was just all them learning dialect, so we’d have dialect lessons, posture lessons. They had to figure out how to sit, how to place their hand when you take off your hat, when you would take off your gloves, all these lessons just to make the etiquette look natural” Kelley said.
Hurley, a passionate actor, said this was the most work he has ever had to put into a show before.
“We had to learn how to drink tea the proper way and stand the proper way. I’m just looking forward to seeing it all come together.”
Director Jennifer Rhoads used her previous living experience in London to help the actors and actresses master the art. Kelley said the director’s expertise has been incredibly helpful.
But despite the excitement, Hurley still cannot help but feel the pre-opening night nerves.
“Everyone has an idea of what they want Algernon to be in their head and I just don’t want my Algernon to be so different from their Algernon if they don’t like it.” Hurley said.
After a month of rehearsals, the Player’s are excited to debut this farcical comedy.
“I cannot wait for the audience to see or find out what’s funny,” Kelley said. “Because there are so many clever, hidden, witty jokes in the show and it’ll be interesting to see which ones the audience understands, or maybe it’ll take some time, or which ones that’ll go right over their head.”
Be sure to catch “The Importance of Being Earnest” in the Royal Theater Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.
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