The Runnymede College Drama Club’s spectacular production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was a 1920s-themed experience drenched in witty humour, a diegesis of unveiled identities, with an unanticipated muffin fight that viewers would surely remember!
Set within a 24-hour time-period at Jack Worthing’s countryside house, viewers were introduced to the main characters: the bantering Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, who in the act of “Bunburying”, both claim to be Ernest; Lady Bracknell with a fierce temper; Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew, who are both engaged to an “Ernest Worthing”; the forgetful Miss Prism; and the always-reliable Merry. Wilde’s comedy of misunderstanding had audiences wiping away tears of laughter and gasping at the continuous revelations until the very last moments of the play.
Despite not acting in the production itself, I had the pleasure of forming part of the team as the set manager and designer; my role was to ensure the props, costumes, and stage were prepared for the performance. Additionally, it gave me the opportunity to explore the field of digital design as I created a poster for the play that was eventually plastered on school walls and on social media. While this job may be hidden from the beaming stage lights and the curious eyes of an audience, there is just as much action happening behind the curtain as there is in front of it.
To begin, I familiarised myself with the intricacies of theatre planning and organisation during the drama club sessions as we practiced entrances and exits, and determined how the props would be incorporated into the performance. I learned that if these aspects were not resolved in advance, any play would be a constant series of embarrassing blunders and inconsistencies between scenes. Therefore, we placed the furniture in various positions and evaluated what would be most effective in terms of practicality and if it would be visually appropriate for the viewers. Since we decided to perform the play in the 1920s style, we were required to find props and articles of clothing that would replicate this era. From teapots to waistcoats, we scoured our homes for the proper balance of modern and old-fashioned items until we had everything required to bring the “Roaring 20s” back to life.
Luckily, I was able to break away from my role every once in a while to become a temporary understudy for a character. When I first heard the words, “You will be stepping in for ___ today” fear was instantly instilled in me as I was met with flashbacks of my previous, potentially blackmail-worthy drama experiences. Nonetheless, the moment I stepped onto the stage, my nerves subsided as I was welcomed with open arms… I was gradually emerging from my once-unbreakable shell. Despite stumbling through our lines, we always preserved a sense of humour and harmony. I can positively say that this experience has solidified friendships and even created a few new ones as I learned more about everyone and we collectively faced the challenges of carrying out a production.
When the day finally arrived to put on the costumes and nibble away at the cucumber sandwiches, we were more than prepared to unveil the spectacular show. Regardless of the fact that there were two different performances, there is no doubt that each one was carried out with the utmost passion and each actor perfectly embodied their character. As the show went on, I peered through the curtains to observe the audience’s reactions to the comic moments as well as the surprising ones — and even when I was not watching, the laughter was loud enough to reverberate off the theatre walls and make its way to the backstage area.
After this outstanding experience, I certainly see myself being an active participant in the drama club, not only for the laughs and memories between friends, but for showcasing the endless tricks and talents our school community has up its sleeve.
“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” — Oscar Wilde
Camila G, Year 12