Earlier this month, W!LD RICE proudly flew the Singapore flag when its critically acclaimed, all-male production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest made its Australian premiere at the Brisbane Festival. Already a critical and popular hit in Singapore and Macau, the production played to rapturous audiences and rave reviews for four performances from 11 to 13 September 2015.
“Taking our work overseas is one of W!LD RICE’s top priorities,” explains Ivan Heng, who pulled double duty as Artistic Director of W!LD RICE and the imperious Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. “It’s an opportunity to raise the profile of Singapore theatre, to create an international awareness of W!LD RICE’s distinctive productions, and to reach out to audiences with Oscar Wilde’s delightful masterpiece.”
The production, directed by Glen Goei and starring a host of Singapore’s finest actors, was a hit with critics and audiences.
“W!LD RICE’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the best I have ever seen of this play,” writes Richard Watts of ArtsHub Australia. “Oscar [Wilde] would have been proud.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, which gave the show a four-star review, said: “Wilde’s satirical tilt at strict Victorian morals is given heft [and his] keen eye for human foibles and tart humour seem remarkably fresh in the hands of the cast”.
Audiences rave about the show!
“Wilde’s play may seem very much like the consummate exercise in frivolity, but there’s a deeper, more serious meaning to its theme of being true to oneself,” says director Glen Goei. “Given the fact that Australia is now hotly debating marriage equality, Earnest had a special resonance with audiences there. It’s so gratifying to get a response like this to a show that’s so close to our hearts.”
During the Festival, W!LD RICE participated in a number of events geared towards helping audiences better understand the themes of The Importance of Being Earnest, particularly in the context of Singapore.
The Company performed a moving and powerful staged reading of Moisés Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde on 13 September 2015. which examines the devastating effects on Wilde’s life of a British law criminalising sexual activity between two consenting male adults, which remains in force in Singapore today as Section 377A of the Penal Code.
Ivan and Glen also spoke at Festival Conversations: Singapore Snapshot, a panel that touched on government support for the arts, freedom of expression, censorship. A separate post-show discussion, facilitated by Brisbane Festival Artistic Director David Berthold, was covered in The Guardian, which observed: “When W!LD RICE brought the play to Brisbane Festival last week… it was warmly received by local audiences, and 120 years after it was first staged, Wilde’s famous wit still sparkled like champagne.”