May 2011

Oscar Wild

"Delighted with Death of a Salesman, nothing was going to stop me from
seeing your production of Wilde's play last night in Aldeburgh. My
highest expectations were exceeded. Delicious. Thank you and the team
for polishing up a precious gem. I'm not easily
pleased, shall not forget it."

(Message from Aldeburgh after a performance of The Importance of Being Earnest
7th May


Open Space
Theatre Company

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Past Performance

The Importance of Being Ernest by Noel Coward
Autumn 2010


Pray don't talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me so nervous.


A deliciously witty comedy, written by Oscar Wilde, and directed by Cathy Gill, performed at various venues April and May 2011.

Jack Worthing, JP - Grant Filshill
Algernon Moncrieff - Ben Willmott
Hon Gwendolen Fairfax - Sarah Farrar
Lady Bracknell - Janet Koralambe
Miss Prism - Pat Parris
Cecily Cardew - Emma Martin
Rev Canon Chasuble - Steven Phipps
Merriman, Butler - Pat Quorn
Lane, Manservant - Bruce Cox

Directed by Cathy Gill
Sound: Bev Lawton
Lighting: Roy Goodwin
Costume: Suzannah Platt
Stage Manager: Stefan Kubala
Publicity and Cucumber sandwiches: Rachel Kellett
Photographs: Bev Lawton

Programe design: Bridget Morely
Printing: Cupiss of Diss


East Anglian Daily Times Review

'THIS talented group has come along way since its formation just three years ago presenting quality productions to a professional standard. Their latest offering directed by Cathy Gill was no exception.'

Editorial in latest edition of Village Voice – magazine for Hoxne, Denham, Syleham and Wingfield:

The Open Space Theatre Company added another feather to its cap when it “brought the house down” with Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest at St Edmunds Hall, Hoxne.
Prolonged applause and an encore said it all. Wilde’s masterpiece of wit and satire has pleased audiences for more than 100 years; Open Space held good to the tradition. Next on the list is The Blue Angel …”


A Handbag? louis bag

Oscar Wild


"When one is in town one amuses oneself. When one is in the country one amuses other people."

The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People was first performed on 14 February 1895 at St James Theatre in London. It was immediately well received and it’s humour praised, (although some questioned it’s lack of social message). The successful opening night marked the climax of Wilde's career but also heralded his downfall. The Marquess of Queensberry, father of Lord Alfred Douglas an intimate friend of Wilde, planned to present Wilde a bouquet of spoiling vegetables and disrupt the show. Wilde was tipped off and Queensberry was refused admission. Queensberry continued harassing Wilde, who eventually sued for libel, triggering a series of trails ending in Wilde's imprisonment. Wilde's new notoriety caused the play, despite its success, to be closed after just 86 performances. After imprisonment, he published the play from Paris, but Wilde wrote no further comic or dramatic work.

Life after Death
The restoration of Wilde’s reputation and revival of Earnest, was a slow process, (a collected edition of Wilde's works, published in 1908 by his friend Robert Ross, helped but the plays respectability was only assured 50 years after it’s opening, in 1946 when a charity performance was attended by King George VI.

John Geilgud was possibly the most famous Jack Worthing of the twentieth century, and his 1939 production was seen as a turning point in modern stagings, serving as a model for later performances. Gielgud also directed, produced and acted in the 1948 Broadway production winning a Tony for "Outstanding Foreign Company".
The play is been popular with the Royal Shakespeare company beginning in 1975 with William Hutt playing Lady Bracknell.




The chin a little higher, dear. Style largely depends on the way the chin is worn. They are worn very high, just at present.


Trivia and the importance of not being Earnest

Unlike Wilde’s earlier plays, The Importance of Being Earnest's light plot does not tackle serious social and political issues, (something contemporary reviewers were wary of - including George Bernard Shaw arguing that comedy should touch as well as amuse, ‘I go to the theatre to be moved to laughter’).

The only vice in Earnest is represented by Algy's craving for cucumber sandwiches.

Wilde told Robert Ross that the play's theme was "That we should treat all trivial things in life very seriously, and all serious things of life with a sincere and studied triviality."




"It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple. Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, and modern literature a complete impossibility!"

The Importance of Being Earnest has been revived many times since its premiere and adapted for the cinema on three occasions.

The 1952 film, directed (and adapted ) by Anthony Asquith, is largely faithful to Wilde’s text. Edith Evan’s outraged delivery of the line ‘A handbag’ has become legendary, so much so, that Ian McKellen said it is a performance "so acclaimed and strongly remembered that it inhibits audiences and actors years later" providing a challenge for any actress taking on the role of Lady Bracknell. The cast were as follows: Michael Redgrave (Jack), Michael Denison (Algy) Edith Evans (Lady Bracknell), Joan Greenwood (Gwendolen), Margaret Rutherford (Miss Prism), Miles Malleson (Canon Chasuble), Dorothy Tutin (Cecily), Aubery Mather (Merriman), Walter Hudd (Lane).

In 1992 Kurt Baker directed a version using an all black cast, set in the United States of America.

In 2002 Oliver Parker, made film staring Colin Firth (Jack), Rupert Everett (Algy), Dame Judi Dench (Lady Bracknell), Reese Witherspoon (Cecily), Frances O’Connor (Gwendolen), Anna Massey (Miss Prism), and Tom Wilkinson (Dr. Chasuble). Parker's adaptation includes the dunning solicitor Mr. Gribsby who pursues Jack to Hertfordshire (present in Wilde's original draft, but cut at the behest of the play's first producer. Algernon too is pursued by a group of creditors in the opening scene.

Translating Earnest


"I have always been of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either everything or nothing."

Wild script

Lost in translation

Translating the title along with the pun ("Ernest", a masculine proper name, and "earnest", the virtue of steadfastness and seriousness) poses a special problem for translators. In a study of Italian translations, Adrian Pablé found thirteen different versions, using eight titles. The four main strategies employed are:

First leaves all characters names unchanged in their original spelling, thus the name is respected and readers reminded of the original cultural setting, but the liveliness of the pun is lost.

Eva Malagoli varied by using both the English Christian names and the adjective earnest, thus preserving the pun and the English character of the play, but possibly straining an Italian reader.

A third group of translators substituted Ernest with a name that also represents a virtue in the target language. For instance, in Italian, these versions variously call the play L'importanza di essere Franco/Severo/Fedele, the given names being the values of honesty, propriety and loyalty, respectively.

French offers a closer pun: Constant is both a first name and the quality of steadfastness, thus the play is commonly known as De l'importance d'être Constant, though Jean Anouih translated the play under the title: Il est important d'être Aimé (Aimé is a name which also means "beloved").











'I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train'.


'All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.'



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