The Importance of Being Earnest - February 24 - February 26, 2022

Huntington University

 Director's Note 

I’m not entirely sure when I first read The Importance of Being Earnest. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to Wilde’s witty verbal banter and ridiculous sense of humor that are exhibited in this play. It’s been on my directing “to do” list for a long while, but the time has never been right…until now.


When we decided to include the play in the 2021-2022 season, I knew right away that I wanted to direct it. At that time, however, I fully intended to stage a traditional, Victorian-era production. As I dug into the script and turned over its themes in my mind, however, I realized that Wilde’s satire of the various “isms” of his time was extremely relatable to current events. As in Wilde’s play, today’s entertainment teases apart issues of classism, examines the often opposing worldviews of the country versus the city, and stages romantic comedies about people who initially avoid commitment.  How then, I began to ask myself, would we make those themes relatable to a modern audience? Who or what would Wilde be satirizing if he were alive today? What in today’s entertainment would be comparable to this production’s impact and reception in 1895? The answer seemed obvious—Keeping Up with the Kardashians.


With this idea in mind, we set about reimagining the world of Wilde’s play in a contemporary setting, inspired by the attitudes and visual images of the Kardashians. We retained the vast majority of Wilde’s original dialogue, making only minor tweaks to dated references that we felt might take the audience out of the play: telegram, cigarette case, etc. Designers referenced Haute Couture images and contemporary London flats. Actors translated Wilde’s original stage directions into modern gestures and behaviors.


The result of this reimagining is the production you’re experiencing today. It is our hope that this production—staged almost exactly 127 years after its original premiere—brings the same joy and laughter it brought its original audiences.


Enjoy the show!

Ryan Long, Director

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