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The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde begins Jan 22 through Feb 17, opens for reviewers Friday Jan 25, 2019. What's in a name? Wilde's masterful comedy follows a young man and his friend on a journey that leads to an unexpected discovery. Part comedy, part mystery; this story of love, manners, and mistaken identity is a classic that never grows old. "The truth is rarely pure, and never simple." - Oscar Wilde

The most renowned of Oscar Wilde's plays, The Importance of Being Earnest is social satire at its finest, focusing on social class, hidden identities, and triviality. Earnest delves deep into the double-lives of two affluent bachelors as they go from the city to the country and then back again. We follow John 'Jack' Worthing and Algernon 'Algy' Moncrieff, who create alter egos named Ernest to escape their tiresome lives. They attempt to win the hearts of two women who, conveniently, claim to only love men called Ernest. The pair struggle to keep up with their own stories and become tangled in a tale of deception, disguise and misadventure. The elaborate plot ridicules Victorian sensibilities with some of the best loved, and indeed bizarre, characters to be found on the Modern Stage. Wilde originally wrote it in four acts, but during the first rehearsals George Alexander persuaded him to shorten it down to three.

Anita Stewart, Executive and Artistic Director of Portland Stage shared this "The Importance of Being Earnest is a play that makes me realize what the word "classic" means. While Wilde was writing a comedy about 19th century British society, he hit a core that resonates even in America today. The humor grows out of each of the character's desire to fill a role in society; it is situational - the sort of humor that never grows stale. Wilde has an uncanny knack for delivering truths that hit the mark. It is a delight to hear this play in the mouths of accomplished actors who parry with one another to delight the viewer. I'm looking forward to seeing what this wonderful cast puts together."

The Importance of Being Earnest first performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James's Theatre in London. The play has become Wilde's most enduring success, being produced all over the world in addition to being adapted into film, opera, and musical productions. The play was most recently revived in New York City in 2011 and had a successful run at Roundabout Theatre Company.

Oscar Wilde was an Anglo-Irish poet, author, and playwright. He contributed to publications such as Pall Mall Gazette and he wrote the novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Perhaps most recognized for his work as a playwright, Wilde wrote plays such as Lady Windermere's Fan, An Ideal Husband, Salome, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Shortly after The Importance of Being Earnest premiered, Wilde was imprisoned for two years. He was arrested after losing a libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry. Wilde had had an ongoing affair with Marquess' son and was charged with gross indecency. While in prison, he wrote a well-known 55,000-word letter to his love called De Profundis. After his release from prison, he published portions of the letter, including The Ballad of Reading Gaol. He died shortly after he was freed at the age of 46. He lived his life extravagantly, but he suffered greatly.

In addition, Portland Stage announced its move from Subscription to Membership. In honor of their 45th season they are celebrating their audience and community by creating a new Membership Program. Membership at Portland Stage is more than just a seat in the house, it's joining our team with insider access, great savings and flexibility. In addition to their current ticket packages, they are now offering enhanced Member Benefits, and new options for audiences. Visit portlandstage.org to learn more about Membership.

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