Upper School Theatre Production
In lieu of an in-person performance in the fall of 2020, Upper School students staged a virtual production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Working entirely online, these nine actors each learned and performed two different roles – creating two Duchesne versions of one of the greatest comedies in English theatre history. Enjoy!
At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, I knew that I wanted to find a way for our theatre students to continue to tell stories despite the unusual circumstances of the pandemic. I had done a couple of virtual readings during the summer and knew that format would give our actors a chance to use slightly different performance skills. So, we added this virtual Upper School play to the Fine Arts schedule.
When I met with the students, it was clear that they were interested in doing something light and comic. I wanted a public domain script so that we’d be completely free to cut and adapt as needed for the virtual format. That led me straight to Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Generally considered to be one of the masterpieces of English comedy, it is also a personal favorite of mine. Most importantly, it is profoundly and delightfully silly. I trimmed and streamlined the script down to a fast-moving 70 minutes or so and we began rehearsals.
Each of the nine actors in the project prepared two different roles – a charming debutante and a put-upon butler or a charmingly roguish young man and a spinster tutor. We rehearsed entirely over Teams and Zoom, distributed costumes to everyone’s homes, recorded a couple of takes of each act for each cast, edited in some sound effects and a little virtual Victorian English scenery. And here are the results – two complete recordings of The (virtual) Importance of Being Earnest by our “Blue Cast” and our “Gold Cast”. We hope they add a little joyful ridiculousness to your holiday season.
—Rob Kimbro, Upper School Theatre