Students from Rugby College will be taking to the stage with professional actors in a production of Oscar Wilde’s classic The Importance of Being Earnest at the college’s theatre this November.
The production is being staged by the college’s unique pro-educational theatre company – Spitfire Theatre – where every cast is made up of 50% students and 50% professional actors. Students Daisy Green, Aaron Evans, Christina Bown and Ryan Dowson take to the stage along with former Rugby College student, Janeks Babidorics, and four other professional actors.
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.
In this new interpretation, Director Jenny Jenkins draws parallels from the recent popularity of such brash “constructed reality series” like The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore, but most prominently the West London based Made in Chelsea.
“Oscar Wilde’s ‘comedy of manners’ satirised the wealthy upper classes of his time,” Jenny explains. “This is a play about young people with too much money, too much time, and not enough to care about and the ‘Chelsea Set’ seemed like the perfect modern parallel. So much of the script is characters spouting Wilde’s perfect witticisms through ridiculous observations on life, seemingly to no-one in particular. The idea that these characters were trying to entertain and inspire a legion of fans through a reality TV series really appealed to me and has driven our rehearsal process. ”
David Bird, Performing Arts lecturer at Rugby College runs Spitfire Theatre and explains the concept, “Rehearsing in the evenings, the company has a dual purpose – to give students the opportunity to hone their existing skills in readiness for their next steps into the industry, and to give actors who are unable, or unwilling, to forego their day jobs an opportunity to continue to develop their skills and work in performing arts, without the financial constraints of the industry.
“The rehearsal process is one of both rigorous performance preparation and on-the-job training which benefits both our students and the professional actors – we think we’re the only company of this kind in the country to do this, to bridge the gap between the training and the professional worlds.”
The play is performed at Rugby College’s theatre from Tuesday 10-Thursday 12 November at 7pm – there is also a Thursday matinee at 1.30pm. Tickets cost £7.50 (concessions £5) and can be bought on the door, or at Warwickshire College Group’s online shop www.warwickshire.ac.uk/shop.