Play displays humor through Victorian-Era setting

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The stage at Mark A. Chapman Theatre in Nichols Hall was set to look reminiscent of Victorian times as the K-State Theater program put on a play by Oscar Wilde The Importance Of Being Earnest Thursday night.

In the program, the play is referred to as being a “verbal opera.”

“This play is all about talking,” the program read. “Each character loves talking, and cannot wait for his or her turn to say something very lively and very stylish.”

Charlotte MacFarland, associate professor of theater, directed the play that takes place in the late 1800’s. She said the performers trained for the dialogue with seven weeks of rehearsals, one of which included a week learning how to perform the English dialect. According to MacFarland, “The Importance Of Being Earnest” differs from Shakespeare, which she said she’s passionate about, in that it has a lighter tone.

“This is lighter, and it’s very vocal and satirical,” MacFarland said. “It’s a really hard play.”

Abbey Lindholm, first year in veterinary medicine, said she thought the vocal training paid off.

“The actors did an amazing job with their accents,” Lindholm said.

Lindholm said she didn’t have any previous knowledge of the plot and wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but she thought the actors did well by combining physical humor and verbal humor.

“I’m very impressed with their acting,” Lindholm said.

Blake Cordell, freshman in theater performance, said he was most impressed by the way the actors were able to stay true to the nature of the story, while adding their own element to it and involving the audience.

“They’re able to deliver it in a way that made it very relevant, even though the text is outdated,” Cordell said.

Victorian era piano music played at various significant points of the play, such as the ending of the first half, the beginning of the second and the final moments. The music, which MacFarland said was by Mozart, added to the atmosphere.

MacFarland said research for the play took her three to four months, with an additional three months of conceptualizing and planning things such as blocking. After that, the performers were brought in and it was all put together.

“I was really proud of them,” MacFarland said.

Updated on April 28: The original article incorrectly stated the play was based on a book by Oscar Wilde.

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Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.