First Rehearsal for “Earnest”

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    Connor Toms plays Jack Worthing and Michael Patten plays the duel roles of Lane and Merriman. This will be the fourth time Toms and Patten have appeared on our stage together.
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    Director Victor Pappas talks with costume designer Melanie Burgess.
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    Kimberly King makes her Seattle Shakespeare Company debut as Lady Bracknell.
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    Set designer Carey Wong talks with director Victor Pappas.
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    Emily Grogan plays Gwendolen and Hana Lass plays Cecily. Both appeared together in our 2010 production of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."
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    Quinn Franzen (left) makes his Seattle Shakespeare Company debut as Algernon. Franzen and Toms recently appeared together in "The Hounds of the Baskervilles" at Seattle Rep.
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    Dialect coach Gin Hammond is helping to make sure our cast has the proper British pronunciation for the play.
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    Charles Leggett, last on our stage as Enobarbus in "Antony and Cleopatra," plays the Reverend Chausible.
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    Director Victor Pappas gives the company some background on the life of Oscar Wilde.
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    Set designer Carey Wong explains the set changes for "The Importance of Being Earnest."
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    Act I set model for "The Importance of Being Earnest."
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    Act II set model for "The Importance of Being Earnest."
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    Act III set model for "The Importance of Being Earnest."
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    Costume designer Melanie Burgess talks to the company about the period costumes for the production.
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    Costume research for Algernon.
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    Costume research for Jack Worthing.
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    Costume research for Cecily.
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    Costume research for Gwendolen.
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    Costume research for Miss Prism and Reverend Chausible.
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    Costume research for Lady Bracknell.

 

 

Only one other writer could compete with Shakespeare for the title of the most quoted playwright, and that is Oscar Wilde. Seattle Shakespeare Company produces their first production of a Wilde play with The Importance of Being Earnest directed by Victor Pappas this spring.

The Importance of Being Earnest is Oscar Wilde’s last play and has been hailed as one of the cleverest comedies in the English language. Dapper Jack Worthing and Algernon, his compatriot in cavorting, have fallen for two ladies who have their hearts set on marrying a man named Ernest. In order to pursue the romance, both men concoct an elaborate deception which leads to an even more outlandish surprise when the formidable Lady Bracknell starts sleuthing about for the far-fetched truth.

Wilde was a great admirer of the social commentary plays of Shaw and Ibsen. At the first rehearsal for the play, director Victor Pappas remarked that The Importance of Being Earnest was written after Wilde’s series of “Society Plays” where the characters all had great secrets they were trying to protect.  The play was a departure from his previous works in that Wilde set aside the earnest social commentary and focused on his humor and triviality he saw in his society.  “He calls the play a trivial play for serious people. It is indeed that,” said Pappas. “It says: `Look at the things we take seriously and look at the things we treat as trivial….I’m going to invert that, and that’s going to be a reflection of our society.’”  The Importance of Being Earnest was written during the period of Wilde’s life when he had his own secrets.  A happily married man with children, Wilde also conducted a whole other life with Lord Alfred Douglas.  The Importance of Being Earnest opened on Valentine’s Day in 1895 and shortly thereafter the great scandal of Wilde’s life became public. He was imprisoned, his named removed from the play, and Wilde never came back as a literary force within his lifetime.

Pappas makes his Seattle Shakespeare Company directing debut with The Importance of Being Earnest. He served as the Associate Artistic Director of Intiman Theatre for seven years and recently directed Other Desert Cities, Old Times and Mary Stuart at ACT Theatre. He spent a decade as Associate Chair of the Graduate Acting Program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, where he received the David Payne Carter Award for Teaching Excellence.

Husband and wife actors Connor Toms and Hana Lass will play Jack and Cecily. Both have appeared frequently at Seattle Shakespeare Company, Toms most recently as Duke Orsino in the Wooden O production of Twelfth Night (2012) and Lass as Rosalind in As You Like It (2012). Emily Grogan, who also appeared in the Wooden O production of Twelfth Night as Olivia returns to play Gwedonlen.  Making their Seattle Shakespeare Company debuts are Quinn Franzen as Algernon and Kimberly King as Lady Bracknell.  Also appearing in the production are Kate Wisniewski as Miss Prism, Charles Leggett as Rev. Chausible, and Michael Patten in the dual roles of Lane and Merriman.

Comments

  1. Jeanette says

    My husband and I thought the play was well cast and we both enjoyed the show very much. We even renewed our subscription that evening. We look forward to many other great productions by The Seattle Shakespeare Company.

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