Description of the Play:
Mask and Mirror Community Theatre, in its second season for Tigard and Tualatin, will present Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest - A Trivial Comedy Set in the Serious South” in May. The shows director, Mason Hall, changed the original subtitle and has adapted the play to post civil war Georgia.
Says Hall, “I first read the play at University-it was required in two different classes-and I have seen several stage and film versions. The idea of setting in the post civil war American South came to me and my wife, a couple of years ago. At that time I was directing another comedy that was set in present day Texas. One evening we were watching a BBC filmed version of ‘Earnest’, and since my mind was filled with southern manners and heavy accents from the show I was directing, as we watched the film I easily slipped into imagining this very English play being done with the same sort of upper class airs and snobbish pretense, only set in the South. I thought: oh…that might be fun…and it could work! Our Southern aristocrats behaved the same way-especially in the 1890’s shortly after the civil war. Similar social forces were at work in the American South and in England during that period; consequences of economic industrialization. The breakdown of the social classes, formation of organized labor, women’s suffrage, and the modern art movement are just a few examples. In other words, I saw a lot of parallels, so… I thought I’d like to give it a shot.”
Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece first appeared on stage at the St. James Theatre, London, on Valentine’s Day, 1895. Opening night was a great success. Wilde believed in, and therefore lived his life as a work of art in progress. He developed a public persona that gained him international celebrity and access to the upper classes-often the source and subject of his literary creations. For over a hundred years, “The Importance of Being Earnest” has been on e of the most popular and performed plays in the English language. Wilde’s complex characters and supple plots continue to inspire a wide range of interpretive possibilities.
Hall does want theater goers to know: “for you purists out there, most of the changes in the script are those that reference the setting in England, otherwise it’s all Oscar Wilde, pure and simple.” But as the author’s character, Algernon quips in the play, ‘the truth is rarely pure and never simple’. So Hall warns, “don’t come to the show expecting only laughs, although there will be plenty of those…Wilde also points a playful yet critical finger at hypocrisy, and the seriousness people take in their roles and identities…not just the upper classes, but all of us. He’s really encouraging his audience to recognize the ‘actor’ in each of us.”
Mason Hall is a co-founder and former board member of M&M. He has worked in the theatre and entertainment business for almost forty years as an actor, director, writer, producer, stage manager, and more. He has also worked as a teacher, a journalist, and in archeology. Twelve year residents of Tigard, he and wife Debbie, dearly love their children, grandchildren, the outdoors, reading, and the arts.
- Scott Rushford
- Elisabeth Goebel
- Sheila Zook
- Casey Faubion
- James Kilmury
- Deb Holmes
- Margie Young
- Greg Prosser