“We’ve heard so much about Earnest – when are you bringing it back again?”
It’s a question that’s been asked of director Glen Goei and star Ivan Heng umpteen times since 2009.
Four years ago, W!LD RICE’s all-male production of Oscar Wilde’s bitingly satirical The Importance Of Being Earnest was the hottest ticket in town. The show played to sold-out audiences almost every night.
“Just the huge number of people who’ve [asked us about it]…” Glen observed. “We thought we’d do it again while it was still fresh in people’s minds.”
And so, W!LD RICE decided to stage Earnest again, with almost entirely the same cast as before. “My idea was to have an all-male cast, where none of the female characters are in drag,” Glen explained. “I felt that would somehow sensationalise the play or cheapen it.” [Read the full interview with Glen here!]
In March this year, rehearsals began in… well, in earnest.
“I had forgotten all my lines – I couldn’t believe how little of it I remembered!” lamented Chua Enlai, who reprised the role that won him the Life! Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2010.
But he did enjoy revisiting the production, not least because it gave him the chance to try something different as Lady Gwendolyn Fairfax.
“It’s interesting to have the foundation there, and have the ability to decide whether to deviate from it or push it,” mused Enlai.
Playing the role a second time also allowed the cast to refine their understanding of the characters they played. “Hopefully, this time round, from everyone who’s done it before, we’ve got a deeper understanding of the characters and the situation and the whole play.” [Check out our chat with Enlai here!]
Fashion designer Frederick Lee also returned to recreate his award-winning looks for Earnest. “I gained inspiration from looking at fashion plates and photographs of real people and existing pieces of clothing from the Victorian era,” Frederick said.
“Recreating this extravagance on stage was an exciting and challenging job. For this production, I meticulously created the sharply tailored morning suits, top hats, silk cravats and flannel suits that were in vogue during the 1890s.” [Read Frederick’s full interview here!]
In May 2014, W!LD RICE will be taking Earnest on tour. The production will receive its international premiere at the Macao Arts Festival, where it will play at the Dom Pedro V Theatre from 16-17 May 2014 at 8pm.
Earlier this month, Glen and our lighting designer Mac Chan visited Macau to check out the theatre ahead of our premiere.
“I’m sure the message hidden beneath the merry surface of Wilde’s play will translate to audiences in Macau as well,” ‘said Ivan Heng, who will again reprise the role of the indomitable Lady Bracknell.
“It would be easy to dismiss it as shallow. But dig deeper and you’ll find that Wilde was writing about the conservatism, superficiality and prejudice of the moralistic Victorian society… There’s so much in Earnest that we can still recognise in ourselves today.”