The actress chatted to us about the upcoming digital production of The Importance of Being Earnest – co-produced by the Lawrence Batley Theatre and The Dukes.
How would you say this production of The Importance of Being Earnest is different from other
The cheeky answer would be to say that “I am in it!” It is also set up North and therefore brings yet another humorous slant to Mr Oscar Wilde’s fabulous play. Yasmeen Khan’s take on the play is spectacular. Everybody gets to shine.
How did you get involved with this production?
Mina Anwar, the director and also one of the main actors, and I worked together in David Baddiel’s play The Infidel a few years ago in London, and got on like a house on fire. We had to work together again on something, and whilst I was looking for my butternut squash in Waitrose, she rang me and put the idea to me to be in her production. I must have looked and sounded like a crazy woman talking to myself on my headphones as she was reading a few of the lines which made me laugh out loud. I had to be in this adaptation.
How did you find the rehearsal and filming process given all the restrictions in place?
I am used to teaching singing lessons on Zoom, and speaking to friends and family in this way is a given this past year, but reading the play through on Zoom and having rehearsals in the same way has made me crave for the day that we performers can be in the same room. That said, Mina made the whole process very painless but extremely funny and comfortable. My fellow actors were a joy, and all the stage management and camera operatives were fabulous. Stress-free and enjoyable.
Why do you think that Oscar Wilde’s play still proves popular with audiences?
The humour is ageless and this adaptation is a joy to portray. I was watching the original film quite recently on TV, it’s an evergreen play that will be watched and enjoyed for ever and a day.
Could you tell me more about Miss Prism – how do you see her as a character?
Well Margaret Rutherford I am not! I don’t want to give anything away, so I will say that Yasmeen Khan’s adaptation lends herself to my sense of humour perfectly.
What have you enjoyed the most being part of the Importance of Being Earnest?
I don’t get to play many straight parts without music being added for me to sing and this was a joy. Meeting new actors, and having the time of my life for five days was a tonic. Laughter is indeed the best medicine. Working with Mina again was the icing on the cake. I’ve worked with some terrific female directors in the past few years (Sally Cookson and Caroline J Rayner to name two) who understand the art of acting/performing and now directing.
Why should people watch this production of The Importance of Being Earnest? So many productions have been available to audiences that would normally be in a theatre or a cinema… so to sit in your favourite armchair with a cup of tea or a glass of something else, creating your own ambience and laughing out loud and making you feel and remember that live theatre and performances from all the arts is a necessity can only be a good thing! Yasmeen Khan has tweaked Oscar Wilde’s fantastic play.. and I think he would have approved ! Plus, I am in it !!!!!
By Emma Clarendon
The Importance of Being Earnest will be streamed from the 19th April until the 4th May. Tickets are £12 and available by visiting: https://importanceofbeingearnest.com/