The Kenan Theatre Company is preparing to show audiences something wild this weekend — Oscar Wilde, that is.
The company will be performing Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest" from March 1-5 at the Joan H. Gillings Center for Dramatic Art. Senior Kate Jones, a producer for the show, was involved in the decision to perform the famous play.
“It was a big choice,” Jones said. “We knew we wanted to do something comedic because the rest of our season is dramatic. We took a risk and did something that wasn’t contemporary.”
The show will be performed entirely by student actors. They were pushed to learn British dialect and etiquette to best perform the show. Senior Catherine Baird plays Lady Bracknell, an older woman who stirs up immense drama.
“It’s a bit out of my age range,” Baird said about playing an older character. “But it’s been a fun challenge.”
Despite the challenges in acting, the show itself promises to offer many funny moments for the audience.
“It’s considered high comedy,” director Lori Mahl said. “Something will be said, and then five words later that will be turned around and flipped on its head. You really have to be listening.”
As an actress, Baird relishes the comedic moments and hopes that the audience will too.
“I think my favorite part is the scene at the end,” Baird said. “All the characters are together on stage and there are a bunch of quick reveals that the story has been building toward. It’s big, dramatic and goofy.”
The company said that although it was written in the 19th century, the play is still relatable to modern audiences.
"It's unexpectedly funny," Jones said. "The comedy is timeless."
Mahl has directed other professional productions and appreciates the student-led aspect of the Kenan Theatre Company.
“Educational theater has a different slant,” Mahl said. “They are all doing it really to learn and to get experience.”
The play is much more than just a comedy. Wilde struggled in his personal life to gain acceptance for his sexual relationships with other men. In his writing, he uses his experiences as inspiration to explore many issues of class and satirize that aspect of society.
KTC hopes to keep the audience laughing but also hopes to allow people to reflect on how Wilde’s writing relates to their lives.
“We have really explored the idea of class,” Jones said. “Even though as a country we try not to be classist, the concepts are unbelievably still present in today’s society.”
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