Oscar Wilde Play Explores The Amusing Life Of Victorian High Society
Feb. 16, 2018
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti
Mistaken identity, willful misdirection, romantic suspicions and scandalous secrets comprise the comedic capers of “Lady Windermere's Fan” presented by Sam Houston State University Department of Theatre and Musical Theatre. Directed by Victoria Lantz, the production runs Feb. 21-24.
The first of Oscar Wilde’s social comedies, “Lady Windermere’s Fan” combines shrewd satire of Victorian high society with amusing and intelligent dialogue that distinguishes Wilde as the self-proclaimed ''lord of language.''
“I think Wilde is a brilliant comedic writer in terms of wit and language. The humor is not physical. It is all in irony, word play and witty phrases,” Lantz said. “He is also a beautiful writer. He creates smart characters with fast wit which is something I always find funny.”
First presented in London in 1892, the comedy pokes fun of the social expectations of Victorian England's upper crust and pushes the envelope of “proper” social norms.
The production unfolds on the eve of Lady Windermere’s (Kiaya Scott) birthday party to which London elite are invited. The celebration is suddenly compromised when scandalous secrets are divulged as Lord Darlington (Zachary J. Willis) and The Duchess of Berwick (Cassidy Ochs) reveal the alleged infidelity of Lord Windermere (Jeremy Gee). When Lady Windermere concocts a scandalous plan, she unintentionally spurs a series of events that could leave them all in ruin.
Junior musical theatre major, Kiaya Scott, is excited to have been cast in the leading role of Lady Windermere.
“This is my first lead role ever. I usually play supporting roles so this is an awesome challenge for me,” she said.
To prepare for her role as a 19th century, British high-society woman, Scott has learned to become accustom to a few new things like learning a different dialect and wearing corsets in rehearsals. She describes a part of Act 1 in the play, between Lady and Lord Windermere, as one of her favorite scenes.
“Lady Windermere is making her first accusations of cheating and is just having a fit. It’s pretty fun to get to throw a little tantrum and be a brat on stage,” she said.
To visually capture the ambiance of high-society 19th century London, the production aims to feature elegant costumes and sets as a part of the experience.
“The set is grand with antique furniture pieces and accents to evoke lavish life styles. The costumes will be very elaborate with striking and lovely dresses,” Lantz said.
True to Victorian England upper class, gloves, fans and top hats will add to costume designs to evoke the flamboyant wealth and Victorian sentiment.
“The grandest scene by far is Act II featuring evening dresses of the 1890's and men in full dress tails,” said Kristina Hanssen, department chair and production costume designer.
Just like upper crust Victorian audiences, today’s theater-goers can enjoy making their own judgements on who’s behaving “proper” and who’s not in Lady Windermere’s world when the play opens Feb. 21.
“Lady Windermere's Fan” will be presented at 8 p.m. each evening with a 2 p.m. matinee performance in the Erica Starr Theatre at the University Theatre Center.
Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students/seniors and are available online at shsu.universitytickets.com or by calling 936.294.2339.
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