Wednesday, April 10, 2013
The Importance of Being Earnest
"The Importance of Being Earnest", a comedy by Oscar Wilde, will always hold a special place in my heart.
Ten years, two continents and countless jobs after I dropped out of college after a soul-stifling year of studying a subject in which I had no interest, and being told I had no future in theatre, I saw a notice for auditions at my college for this play. I thought to myself, "I should do that!" Then I walked closer for the details. OH NO! The auditions were that afternoon. That little "don't even think about it" voice that we all have started shouting, "It's too quick. I don't have anything prepared. I can't do it."
From out of who-knows-where, a different voice whispered, "Go ahead. Just try it. If you don't get cast, you'll be no worse off than you are right now, and you'll won't have to wonder 'what if'."
So, I went. Luckily, years of Anglophilia and watching countless reruns of 'Brit-coms' paid off. Then came the waiting until the next evening until the cast list was posted. I walked down the steps to the door on which the list was posted to find that I had been cast as Lady Bracknell. I floated back to my car and went to my job at Domino's. I still remember telling everyone there, as many times as they would listen, for oh, the entire shift.
Rehearsals went - well, as rehearsals go. I was sharing an apartment with three other young women at the time. I remember memorizing by typing out each line 5 times, then typing two consecutive lines 5 times, up to five lines at a time, going through the scene that way and then whittling down the list at the end. Kind of anal, I know, but hey, it worked.
Three days before opening night, at our last Sunday rehearsal, the director (our professor) did not show up and attempts to contact her were unfruitful. As we could not get into the theatre space, we decided to do a line-through in the lobby. Instead of Earnest's younger brother being carried off in Paris by a chill, we all had Southern accents and the young man was carried off in the bayou by syphilis. I have never laughed so hard without chemical assistance in my life.
The next night, a substitute director/professor came in and let us know that the former director had had an 'incident' and she would be in the hospital for some time, but not to worry, the show would go on. The show must go on...right? I remember my costume being pinned and worked on during the final dress rehearsal.
There were four performances. My mother attended each one, often with other people in tow. I forgot lines once during the run of the show, but luckily the actor playing Earnest made up a line that sparked my memory.
I guess I didn't do too badly, because I was fortunate to be involved in 5-6 plays per year for the next 5 years or so, often acting, but also doing tech work, directing, etc etc etc.
So, what is the moral of today's story? If you really want something in your life and it's not there yet, evaluate your perceived limitations to see which ones are real. For instance, I will never be an Olympic athlete. But one day I may get to visit the Olympics. Our dreams may not come true in the way or when we want, but if we 'earnestly' (sorry for the pun, but I couldn't resist) seek something, we can usually manifest our dream in some form.