Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” Concludes Theater Season

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By Tom McLaughlin

The Rutgers University–Camden theater program will conclude its 2014-15 season with a production of Oscar Wilde’s classic and most successful comedy, “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

Evening Performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, to Saturday, April 18 in the Walter K. Gordon Theater on the Rutgers–Camden campus. There will be a special high school matinee performance at 10 a.m. Friday, April 17, and a matinee performance at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 19.

Wilde’s masterpiece has long been regarded as a comic escapade of epic proportions. Full of social satire, impeccable wit, clever wordplay, and high farce, “The Importance of Being Earnest” retains its status as the quintessential comedy of manners and one of the funniest plays ever written.

Upper-class manners and cucumber sandwiches provide the required social veneer in the Victorian town and country settings. But for Jack and Algernon, all rules get thrown out the window for the sake of love. Amid a whirlwind of mistaken identity and outrageous manipulations, the two men eventually discover, in more ways than one, what it truly means to be “earnest.”

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde holds a special place in the literary history of South Jersey. Twice during his famous lecture tour of 1882, he stopped in Camden to visit the esteemed American poet Walt Whitman.

Kenneth Elliott, associate professor of theater and chair of the Department of Fine Arts at Rutgers–Camden, is the director. Two-time Barrymore Award winner Charlotte Northeast is the dialect coach. Senior theater major Jay Ballard, a resident of Glassboro and a graduate of Glassboro High School, serves as dramaturge and provides critical, historical research for the program and for the cast and crew.

James Mobley, technical director of the theater program at Rutgers–Camden, is designing Algernon’s ornate apartment and Jack’s ostentatious country home. The period-correct costumes are by Kristina Sneshkoff, a visiting part-time lecturer and costume designer at Rutgers–Camden; lighting design is by Ben Hagen; and sound design is by Stefán Örn Arnarson, technical theater coordinator at Rutgers–Camden.

Tickets are $12 for general admission; $10 for senior citizens, faculty, staff, and alumni; and $7 for non-Rutgers students with a valid ID. Rutgers students may reserve two free tickets with a valid ID at the Impact Booth, located in the Campus Center. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Impact Booth at (856) 225-6211. Tickets will also be sold at the box office beginning two hours prior to curtain time. Please be advised that the box office can only accept cash.

For more information, visit rutgerscamdentheater.com. To arrange tickets for the high school matinee, please contact Jake Hufner at (856) 225-2870 or jhufner@camden.rutgers.edu, or Maria Buckley at (856) 225-6176 or maria.buckley@camden.rutgers.edu.

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