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GTA celebrates English society with Oscar Wilde classic

POSTED: April 5, 2012 1:30 a.m.

 As a close to their 2011-12 season, the Gainesville Theatre Alliance has brought to the stage Oscar Wilde’s best loved comedy of manners "The Importance of Being Earnest," a play concerning two wealthy bachelors in Victoria-era England and their respective fraudulent identities, both of which end up causing them more trouble than trouble saved.

 The play opens on April 10 at Gainesville State College’s Ed Cabell Theatre, 3820 Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood, and runs through April 21.

 Wilde’s masterpiece is directed by resident director Elisa Carlson, who directed last year’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," which led her to serve on the artistic staff at the world-renowned Guthrie Theatre in Minneonapolis, MN. Carlson also coached voice for professional productions in theater and film across the country including more than 25 productions at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.

 For "Earnest," GTA has brought in returning scenic designer B. Don Massey, who has done lighting design for numerous GTA productions, and costume designer Jeannie Crawford, who created the inventive costumes for GTA WonderQuest’s "James and the Giant Peach" as well as "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" and "The Beaux’ Stratagem" among other productions.

 "One of the challenges of staging ‘Earnest,’" director Carlson said, "is that the play was originally designed to be performed in a proscenium space, not with an audience on three sides of the stage," as is the case with Gainesville State College’s Ed Cabell Theatre.

 "Yet because of how presentational Victorian England was at the time, and how comically sincere Wilde’s characters are, it is almost an advantage to us. Our audience gets to be silent guests in the room with Oscar, whose witticisms and flourishy barbs are spouted from every character on stage."

 "It’s a very light and funny play," Massey said. "We want to stay within the period but there are always certain liberties taken in theater, relying on the audiences to keep senses of imagination to fill in the details."

 Helping the student actors stay within the period of Victorian England is resident dramatist and period style virtuoso Gay Hammond, who will be playing the role of the daunting and formidable Lady Bracknell.

 "The Importance of Being Earnest" opens on April 10, followed immediately by a free catered opening night reception.

Tickets are $16-18 for adults, $14-16 for seniors and $10-12 for students. There is an $8 discounted preview performance on April 9.

Purchase tickets through the GTA Box Office from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at 678-717-3624 or on the website at www.gainesvilleTHEATREalliance.org. ADA seating is available by calling the box office.

The Gainesville Theatre Alliance is a collaboration between Gainesville State College, Brenau University, theater professionals and the Northeast Georgia community.

As part of their training, the theater majors at the Gainesville Theatre Alliance receive the opportunity to work alongside established professionals in the production of shows.


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