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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Famous Oscar Wilde play brought to NE stage

Photos by Ross Ocampo/The Collegian
Photos by Ross Ocampo/The Collegian

By Jamil Oakford/ managing editor

Victorian manners and lessons in honesty and lying take center stage in NE’s production, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dec. 2-5.

Oscar Wilde’s most famous play is set in London during the late 19th century. Two gentlemen use the same pseudonym of Ernest, which works out until they fall in love with women who only know them by the pseudonym.

Algernon and Jack, portrayed by NE students Jake Blakeman and Alexander Swanson, are the two lead characters lying about their identity.

“In the Oscar Wilde traditional community theater, there’s always a straight man and funny man,” Blakeman said. “Algernon is the funny man to Jack’s straight man. He refuses to grow up.”

Blakeman has enjoyed taking on the part of Algernon, saying he likes playing a colorful and unpredictable character.

Ariana Stephens and Jake Blakeman talk things out during NE’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest Dec. 2-4.Photos by Ross Ocampo/The Collegian
Ariana Stephens and Jake Blakeman talk things out during NE’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest Dec. 2-4.
Photos by Ross Ocampo/The Collegian

Swanson has enjoyed playing the straight-laced Jack Worthington.

“He [Jack] kind of represents what Oscar Wilde thinks of British aristocracy at the time,” Swanson said.

Period clothing, language and British humor are a few things the cast is dealing with for this production. For Ariana Stephens, who portrays Cecily Cardew, Algernon’s love interest, this is her first venture into British humor.

“I’ve only really dealt with American humor,” she said. “I think it’s been really fun, though.”

The cast members are also all learning different accents.

“We’ve had dialect [training] before every rehearsal, and it’s been enlightening,” she said.

Stephens said it’s helped develop her character as the play forces her to use language she wouldn’t normally use in a typical conversation.

NE student Nick Forrest, who plays Jack’s butler Merriman, found it to be one of his favorite parts of preparing for the production.

“I really like the experience of doing a play and learning the accent,” Forrest said.

Fellow cast member Thorin Grigg, portraying Lane, the butler to Algernon, agreed as well. Grigg added his excitement for the stage sets.

“We have this huge moose that’s around for most of the play,” he said.

Hayden Evans, who portrays Canon Chausible, finds the process of making all the elements meld for his performance fun.

“This is the first character that’s very much older than myself, so it’s been fun to add age to the dialect I have to do and then, of course, the movement of him,” he said.

With NE drama associate professor Jakie Cabe as the director, much of the cast enjoyed his approach to the material.

“I’ve never worked with our director Jakie Cabe before,” Swanson said. “I’ve got to say, he puts so much more background and context in the show than I’ve ever had in any show. Day one, we were doing heavy research into everything that goes into a period piece like this.”

The cast is excited for people to see it, and Blakeman hopes people walk away from the performance with an idea of why it’s important to be honest, for the most part.

“It kind of shows that lying can get you into trouble, but it can also get you out of it,” he said.

Performances are 7 p.m. with a 2 p.m. matinee Dec. 5 in the NE Campus theater (NFAB 1205).

Tickets are $6 for general admission, $3 for senior citizens and non-TCC students and free for TCC students, faculty and staff.

For reservations, call the box office at 817-515-6687 or email neplayhouse@tccd.edu.

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