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The Importance of being Earnest

Mar 8 - Mar 16, 2014
The New Hazlett Theatre Center for Performing Arts

Performances are typically 2 hours long.

Showtimes: Friday & Saturday @ 8:00 PM
Sunday @ 2:30 PM


"A trivial comedy for serious people"

The Importance of being Earnest

The Importance of being Earnest

by Oscar Wilde
Directed by Rich Keitel (bio)




Behind the Scenes Special - Designing the Set
by Johnmichael Bohach
Prime Stage Theatre - Set Designer

I'm excited to present the ideas that Rich Keitel (Director) and I have been tossing around over our discussions of the Earnest set design. We did not want to complicate the story with any high concepts or commentary that would stray away from the original text.  Instead we are aiming to give a true to the script presentation, something simplistic and elegant.

Through researching the period of the play and most importantly the artwork of the late 1800s/early 1900s I started to become quite smitten with Impressionistic paintings - you know, those blurry images of water plants and such.  They provided a detailed view of daily life with using just a few brush strokes.  I have found a set of three paintings that I feel encompass the mood and surroundings of each of the Acts of Earnest.

Act I Painting

I am planning to use these paintings as backdrops in each of the Acts, presented in an oversize ornate picture frame that will hang upstage against the Full Stage Traveler.  These images, along with a title card image for the play, will be printing on a 40' wide vinyl banner that will scroll from one painting to the other.  Each image will essential be an 8'x10' image.  Jesse and I have been chatting over the mechanics behind this piece and are hoping to motorize it and run it thru DMX.

Underneath the painting, is a podium safeguarded behind a set of velvet ropes.  On this podium will be a large crank that Lane will use to "scroll" the paintings forward during each of the scene changes.  In actuality this crank will do nothing.

On the deck of the stage will be a raised platform (one step up - 8").  The flooring will be a mixture of neutral tones of marble and wood in an intricate pattern. Here, furniture and set dressing will switch out for each Act.  I am planning to pull colors from the painting themselves to relate them to the surroundings.

Act II Painting

Algernon's drawing room will pull tones of gold, mint green, peach, light blues - giving a slight nod to his flamboyant nature.  The furniture itself will be curvatious and delicate in style. 

The garden will be clean and crisp with white wicker furniture, and plants with pastel flowers.

Act III Painting- We will utilize deep rich shades of burgundy and dark wood tones.  The furniture here will be heavy in style and intricately carved - completely opposite to the styling we've seen earlier in Act I.

Just upstage of the platform will be two free standing doorways that will act as the various entryways in each location.  They will be open and will not contain physical doors. 

Act I Set Design - I envision that during Act I, one doorway is the entrance into the drawing room from the rest of the house, and the other is the doorway to the music room. 

Act II Set Design - Perhaps in Act II, each of these doorways are obstructed by a topiary tree, so the physical action of going into the house is upstage of the doorways and any reference to leaving through the garden will be downstage in front of the seating banks.

Act III Set Design - Only one of these doors needs to be utilized as the entrance to the room - there is no reference to any other space off of this study.

The style of the picture frame and doorways are just suggestive at the moment and will change in draftings.  The platform itself is an rendering of the style, size, and tile layout, but the coloring is not yet settled upon.  It is only to give an idea of the design.