2016-2017 Season,  Importance of Being Earnest

And the Moral of the Story Is…

by Jessa Cunningham, dramaturg

…Don’t worry, I’m not actually going to tell you what the moral of The Importance of Being Earnest is. That’s because that isn’t for me to decide, it’s for you.

220px-millard-importance-earnestIn one of the first meetings I had with Rodger Sorensen, the director, he emphasized his desire to not project a theme or moral on the audience. His reasoning behind this was because of Oscar Wilde’s amoral nature– he wrote his plays without any themes or morals. Wilde just wrote to tell a story, which is what Rodger wanted to do with this play as well. However, just because Wilde wrote it without a theme in mind doesn’t mean you as an audience member can’t glean some message from it.

This is the fun part: you get to choose for yourself what you get from the show! As you leave the show, you have the chance to ask yourself what you learned, if you learned anything at all. Did Jack teach you something particularly profound? Did the hilarious situation of the characters enlighten you in some way? If so, how and why? Was it just a nice, funny show to watch that allowed you to laugh and forget the troubles of the world for a few hours? If so, that’s great too! That’s the wonderful thing about the theatre: two people can see the exact same show and walk away from it with differing opinions and perspectives. There is no right or wrong, just thoughts that can start some fantastic conversations.

With only a few days left of this run, keep that in mind when you see the show. Talk to your neighbor at intermission. Engage in conversation about the show. You might be surprised about what you learn and share. Besides, going to the theatre is always more fun when it is like that, right?

One Comment

  • Gabi Lindelof

    I love this post. I was interested in the title because I too know that The Importance of Being Ernest is a wonderful story, but I hadn’t completely pondered on what the exact meaning of the play was. Theater attracts so many different kinds of people exactly for the reason that we all can learn what is a necessary message to us as a participant. I’m grateful for Wilde’s example that not every story needs to drive home a specific message. Some stories are best told and then left up to the imagination. In this way, it makes us analyze the play on a deeper level and engage with those around us in order to come to some conclusion on what makes this story worth listening to.

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