By Meagan Pruitt
After last year’s production of the dark Crucible, Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was chosen to liven the mood of the audience and cast for this year’s winter play.
Beginning the performances on Jan. 22, the first public showing did not occur until two days later due to a snow forecast. The evening began with a Victorian Tea at 6:45 to set a festive mood followed by the play at 7:30.
Director Polly Jones cast juniors Vincient Arnold and Jim Card as the main characters in the play representing their true colors. Arnold described his character as “irritatingly playful” and Card’s as “irritatingly serious.” The actors found the representation fairly accurate, especially in the promotional posters. They both auditioned for the two lead men, only to find out which character best matched their personality. Arnold took on the role of Algernon Moncrieff, and Card, John “Jack” Worthing. The two friends in the play pretend to be a man named Earnest, and propose to two separate women under false pretense. The rest of the play is spent comically undoing their ruse.
“What I liked about the play is that Jim and Vincient were the same characters on and off the stage,” Laith Fada (‘16) said. “[The way] Vincient and Jim tease each other in the play is similar to how they behave as friends.”
Arnold and Card began preparations for the play before winter break, and have put in well over 100 hours of work into perfecting their performance. Despite the long after-school hours of rehearsal that all the cast members endured, the two lead actors were able to inspire everyone into putting forth their best efforts. According to Jack Fishwick (‘16), who played Reverend Canon Chasuble, the two took responsibility for the scheduling of rehearsals, including when to arrive at the play and leading warm-ups.
“I love performing because, when I’m on stage I can feel the energy of the house and the cast, and it truly is ineffable,” Arnold said. “To fully embody the personality of someone else is one of the most fun things one can do, not to mention getting to work with some amazingly fun people.”
Not only were they companions in the play, but they have been friends in reality for 13 years. For several years, the two have been a part of the International Thespian Society (ITS). While they may not share all the effects from a long-term friendship with others belonging to the program, ITS and the plays themselves have created opportunities for new friendships to unite.
“I have never felt so close to the entire cast than this year,” Card said. “Our success and our struggles have brought us together in ways beyond what I have ever seen. I don’t consider us just fellow theater geeks anymore as I always have. We have become a family of geeks, supporting one another in the desire to make a great show.”
Card was first introduced to the theatre during his freshman year after being recruited for The Merchant of Venice. This also was a comical play, and he played the role of an obnoxious Spanish monarch named the Prince of Aragon. After this experience he “fell in love with the idea of becoming someone else and performing with other actors.” He continued to exercise his talents in acting by playing John Proctor in last year’s play, The Crucible.
Arnold was pushed into acting as a freshman as well. Gates DeHart and his father drew Arnold to the stage in his first production, The Merchant of Venice. Although he played Salanio, a minor friend of the main character, he developed a passion for the art that led him to join ITS the following year.
In the week prior to the productions, play director, Polly Jones, took a leave of absence due to the passing of her husband, Dr. Joe Jones. However, the actors received support from all teachers and students. And in recognition of this turn of events, the cast decided to dedicate the production to the loving memory of Dr. Jones.
In her absence, teachers, Michael Schaefer, Kevin Wells, Richard Cook and Registrar Susan Baker stepped up to help oversee the final rehearsals. David Lake and DeHart also assisted in the direction. The navy curtain, which sets the background throughout the play, was supposed to take two hours to place with four people, but with the assistance of many, it was completed in only one hour.
“[It was] incredibly stressful,” Card said. “But we managed to do more than we thought was possible.”