“The Importance of Being Earnest,” Oscar Wilde’s humorous satire of Victorian culture, will be performed by the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Theatre & Dance Department Oct. 12–14 and 18–20.
Shows will be performed in the Jenkins Theatre at the Noel Fine Arts Center, 1800 Portage St., at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 12 and 13, and Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 18–20. A 2 p.m. matinee will be performed Sunday, Oct. 14. Admission is $17 for adults, $16 for senior citizens and $12 for students. Tickets are available at the Information and Tickets Office in the Dreyfus University Center, http://tickets.uwsp.edu, or by calling 715-346-4100 or 800-838-3378. The play is appropriate for a general audience.
Theatre Professor Steve Trovillion Smith will direct and act in the play, which is also the Theatre & Dance Department’s entry into the American College Theatre Festival. Two judges from the festival will attend and evaluate one of the performances.
The story, set in 1895, centers on two aristocratic young men, Jack (John Ford-Dunker, Fargo, N.D.) and Algernon (Blair Bowman, Cincinnati, Ohio), whose playboy lifestyles and secret identities are put to the test when they fall for two young ladies, Gwendolen (Mona Maclay, Richland Center) and Cecily (Ameara Wahhab, Greendale).
“This is one of the all-time favorite romantic comedies,” said Smith. “It’s very funny, with a punch line at about every third line.” The light comedy also offers something celebratory as the UW-Stevens Point First Nighters dinner theatre program marks its 40th year, he added.
Offering this light, funny play for the audience means hard work for the actors, which will include Smith playing Lady Bracknell. This role has a long tradition of being played by men, he said, most recently by Brian Bedford on Broadway, earning him a Tony Award nomination.
“This is a physically challenging play in that Victorian characters hold themselves very formally,” Smith said. “The movement is very stylized. It’s also mentally challenging to maintain accurate comic timing with Wilde’s precise language. This makes for high demands on the actors.”
In addition, the actors are wearing authentic, student-designed Victorian formal dresses and menswear, set against a gorgeous stage setting created by Assistant Professor Gregory Kaye, a new faculty member, he said.
Smith is facing his own challenges as he jumps between acting on the stage and directing the students as well as teaching dialect and stage movement. “It’s been hard to run back and forth in a skirt and high heels,” he said. “I have a new respect for what women of that era went through.”