Hannah Collins

HATS is bringing you Oscar Wilde’s iconic comedy of romance and relationships, built on witty dialogue and double entendres. Lucy Green (the director), Joshua Korber Hoffman (Ernest) and Tineke Harris (Lady Bracknell) discuss their relationship with the play and why it is still so relevant to a modern audience.

Lucy Green, Director

Taking on such a famous play as The Importance of Being Earnest has been quite nerve-wracking. It’s a GCSE classic, so I’ve been feeling the pressure step up to pull off something original and incredible. Whether we manage that is up to the audience, of course. 

The biggest challenge was trying to see the play in a fresh light; it’s been done so many times that we’re always trying to think of new ways to rehash it. I did consider modernising it or changing the setting, but in the end, I didn’t want to change anything for the sake of it, and I like to think we’ve brought our own energy to our adaptation. From a director’s point of view, the most exciting thing about Earnest is how much you can pull out of it; you can take it in so many directions and exploring those possibilities was genuinely enjoyable.

I’ve tried to emphasise the farce, physical comedy, and ridiculous aspects of the characters. We’ve got a brilliantly funny cast together who have been a joy to direct, and I’ve had a great time just playing around with scenes and trying out new things with the characters. The crew have worked magic on the set and costume; I’ve had them hunting down chaise lounges and building gardens, and they just keep saying yes to everything I ask for.

The goal for this production is to put on two hours of pure fun, silliness, and witty farce. It is, after all, a trivial comedy for serious people. 

Joshua Korber Hoffman, Ernest

I play Jack in The Importance of Being Earnest. Well, Ernest in town and Jack in the country. Playing an almost pantomimic two-faced symbol of Victorian society has been a blast. Although Jack is a greatly overexaggerated comic character, I think that we all change in different social situations, moulded by the company we are in. It may not be as great a contrast as taking on two different names, but I can understand Jack's desire to be free of the shackles of one's responsibilities in one area of life, and instead wallow in the reckless extravagance of another. However, when his two lives begin to interfere with each other, Jack has to make a choice – does he keep up the pretence, or commit to one of his assumed identities? 

instagram/sophiarosenwald

Rehearsing with the rest of the talented cast and under the direction of Lucy has been a wonderful experience. I would highly recommend coming to watch Oscar Wilde's ridiculous story and words come to life.

Tineke Harris, Lady Bracknell

The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde’s most well-known play, was first performed in 1895; a few months before the brilliant Victorian writer was found guilty of sodomy and gross indecency. Oscar Wilde was larger than life – almost a caricature of himself, famous for his acerbic wit, talent for epigrams, and one-time darling of London society.

The Importance of Being Earnest is Wilde’s pièce de résistance; the epitome of his career. It is an illustration of how a finely wrought comedy can act as social commentary with every character portraying an element of the artificial social sensibilities of the age, and Wilde is the absolute master.


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It is difficult to write about this artist without a tinge of melancholy. Such a great talent and profound intellect which came to be sacrificed on the very altar of the society he had once parodied. Today, we play at last with all the unadulterated admiration that he deserves – today, we celebrate the genius and the art – today, we play for Oscar.

The Importance of Being Earnest will be running from Friday 28th February 2020 to Sunday 1st March 2020 at Homerton Small Studio. The performance will begin at 7.30.

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