Village Players is very excited to open our 50th season with Oscar Wilde’s peerless classic, The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Anne Harper. It runs from Friday, September 8, until Saturday, September 30.

The seemingly respectable Jack and the dandy figure Algernon court Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. Having invented a reprobate ‘brother’, Ernest, Jack has led a double life in London using his sibling’s name. With much wit and great charm, Wilde satirizes and punctures the hypocrisy and artificiality of Victorian society. 

Subtitled ‘A Trivial Comedy for Serious People’, this theatrical gem was first performed in 1895, the same year as another masterpiece An Ideal Husband. In a letter to his friend Robert Ross, Wilde explained the philosophy of the play: ‘we should treat all trivial things very seriously, and all the serious things of life with sincere and studied triviality’.

Oscar Wilde

Born in Dublin on 16 October 1854, Oscar Wilde was a flamboyant and sparklingly witty Anglo-Irish playwright, poet and critic. ‘I put all my genius into my life, I put only my talent into my books’, he once said.

Wilde was on top of the world for a brief, shining, five years. He published his famous novel The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1890, the year before he fell in love with the much younger Lord Alfred Douglas. He then began a double life: winning fame and fortune with three hugely successful society comedies, Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895).

Shortly after the opening night of Earnest, Douglas’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry, left Wilde a handwritten note: “For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite [sic].”. Wilde sued him for libel, lost, and was subsequently found guilty of gross indecency. He spent two years in prison, most of it in Reading Gaol, where he wrote De Profundis; in the month of his release he composed The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Both were published posthumously. Bankrupt and shunned by society, his health broken by imprisonment, he spent the rest of his life in Europe. He died in Paris on 30 November 1900 aged 46.

Quotes from Oscar Wilde

  • To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~ An Ideal Husband
  • To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” ~ The Soul of Man under Socialism
  • I wanted to eat of the fruit of all the trees in the garden of the world, and that I was going out into the world with that passion in my soul.  And so, indeed, I went out, and so I lived.  My only mistake was that I confined myself so exclusively to the trees of what seemed to me the sun-lit side of the garden, and shunned the other side for its shadow and its gloom.” ~ De Profundis

Lines from The Importance of Being Earnest:

  • To be born, or at any rate bred, in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life that reminds one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.” ~ Lady Bracknell
  • The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public.” ~ Algernon Moncrieff

About Anne Harper, the director

It’s fair to say Anne has an affinity for Oscar Wilde: she has already brought An Ideal Husband and Lady Windermere’s Fan to the Village Playhouse stage, and even directed a zoom performance of The Importance of Being Earnest . . . of which she says: “Every time I read  this  play  I rejoice  in  the  wit  and  the  language.”

Among the other plays Anne has directed at Village Players are The Impossibility of NowAnybody for MurderPerfect Wedding, Powers and Gloria, Murder in Green Meadows, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Dangerous Obsession, Tartuffe, Cyprienne, Humble Boy, The Winslow Boy, Private Lives, Cause Célèbre, All My Sons, The Real Inspector Hound/After Magritte, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sea Marks, Bus Stop, My Three Angel, The Odd Couple. Recent directing gigs elsewhere include Omission and Gloria’s Guy (Alumnae), A Lion in Winter (Amicus) and Speaking in Tongues (East Side).

During the last few years Anne has also directed Village Players’ zoom readings of Old Coots Commune and acted in others; she also zoom-acted & zoom-directed with Alumnae Theatre. Anne was last seen on stage at Village Players as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit, and is also president of the Village Players Board of Directors.

Director: Anne Harper – Producer: Julie Rush

Click here for ticket prices, show times, and to buy tickets online. You can also make reservations over the phone (416-767-7702) and pay at the box office. As always, Opening Night will be celebrated with a wine and cheese reception after the show, and for this production there will also be a bubbly toast to the start of Village Players 50th season. Mark your calendars, invite your friends, and join in the celebration!

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.