The cast of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ shares their preparation for the production

By ALISSON BERMUDEZ and ISAAC MEJIA

Redlands East Valley High School Theater Department brought Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” from print to live production. Set in Victorian London, “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a comedic play with an equal amount of satire and drama.

Students from the Moderate-Severe program were given an opportunity to present themselves in this production during the garden party scene where they sat and spectated discussions between Gwendolen and Cecily. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

The play stars a pair of Englishmen, John Worthing played by Keyvon Rankin and Algernon Moncrieff played by Aiden Gonzalez, who falls in love with two young women—Gwendolen Fairfax played by Megan Rimmer and Cecily Cardew played by Evie O’Brien.

At the end of the play, the entire stage production team bowed and received a round of applause from the audience. The stage production team worked to change the stage’s scenery and props a total of three times during the play. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Both men lie to the women and claim their names are Ernest. The women immediately become infatuated with them and the men are placed into a difficult, comedic situation as they try to continue the charade.

From stage production to costume changes to memorizing lines, putting together a play requires lots of dedication and hard work. With the play being almost two and a half hours long, actors set aside a lot of time preparing for the live performance.

Aiden Gonzalez (left) and Keyvon Rankin (right) stare intently at each other.  During the play, the actor’s characters, Algernon Moncrieff and John Worthing, often have opposite attitudes and opinions. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Keyvon Rankin, a senior at REV said, “I memorized my lines and most importantly, had to work on my British accent. Having already an accent of my own, practicing my British accent has been the most difficult.”

Rankin continued, “Memorizing with an accent is a whole other thing than just memorizing a line period. When you add an accent to it, you still have to convey what the line is trying to give.”

In Act 1, Keyvon Rankin and Megan Rimmer’s characters first meet each other. Throughout the play, Rankin’s character continuously seeks Rimmer’s character’s hand in marriage. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Ella Fletcher, a senior at REV, plays Lady Bracknell, Gwendolen’s controlling mother, and she believes she prepared for the role “too much.”

Fletcher said, “I memorized and memorized and memorized until my brain was dead.”  

Ella Fletcher poses at the end of the play as the audience applauded her for her performance of Lady Bracknell. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Some of the actors including Fletcher, Gonzalez and Jonathan Black, a senior at eAcademy and Algernon’s manservant in the production, mentioned that they have had previous play experience that helped them prepare for their role.

Black said that his experience had “given [him] an idea on what he needed to do and what things [he] needed to prepare for.”

Adam Garcia, a junior at REV, plays Rev. Canon Chasuble. Garcia said that it is actually the audience who helps him improve his portrayal of his character.

“I want the audience to feel what I am trying to portray,” he said. “I can gage the way I act, or how dramatic and funny I am based on the audience’s reactions.”

Evie O’Brien and Aiden Gonzalez stand close to one another during the play. O’Brien who plays Cecily Cardew is Gonzalez’s love interest throughout the play. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Similar to how each actor prepares differently for their role, they all appreciate different aspects of the play process.

“I enjoy the professionalism of this theater and the play itself, ” Gonzalez said.

Unlike his time in middle school theater, “the set pieces and costumes actually make [him] feel more intrigued with the play itself.”

Patricia Musselman, a freshman at REV, plays Merriman the butler and agrees with Gonzalez on the influence costumes can have on an individual’s performance.

“The costumes help me feel more confident on stage,” said Musselman.

Megan Rimmer and Evie O’Brien embrace each other during the second act of the play. Their characters establish a friendship after learning that both of their lovers lied about their names being Ernest. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Megan Rimmer, a senior at REV, acknowledged that playing a character whose personality is completely different from hers makes the play really fun.

“I feel like characters that are not similar to me are the most fun to get into because it’s acting more. You have to make yourself to be this extravagant person that you’re not really, so you have to act,” Rimmer said.

Keyvon Rankin’s character, John Worthing, gets on his knees as he talks to his governess, Miss Prism, who is played by Rose Blatchley. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

Rankin said his favorite part of the play process was “seeing it all come together. We all started off sitting in a circle reading the script and this small little thing turned into a bigger production that people can come and see for themselves: to witness all the work and time we have put in so they can enjoy.”  

He further said that he finds the whole process to be fun.

“I have the opposite of stage fright,” he said. “Watch me, I am the attention.”

In Act 3, all the characters gather around a table as the lead character, John Worthing, discovers that his actual name is Ernest. (ELLA FITZPATRICK/ Ethic News photo)

The actors performed the play live for audiences three nights in a row. Due to current COVID-19 guidelines, they had to perform with masks on for the entirety of the play. Despite this challenge, the actors still delivered their best performances and the play consisted of a well rounded cast, featuring actors from the moderate-severe classes and Redlands eAcademy. 

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