Guest Blog: Say It Again Sorry, Put A Twist On A Fringe Classic With The Importance Of Being…Serious?
Josh King explains how the company takes a classic and twists it
Society member and writer-in-residence Josh King explains how the Say It Again Sorry team finds things go wrong during the development of the series and what he thinks Oscar Wilde would do with this adaptation.
The importance of being…serious? is a hilarious take on the classic Oscar Wilde play, in which the audience must step in to save the show when the actors start dropping like flies.
When we started the rewrite process The importance of being serious and by turning it into an interactive play, we knew we wanted the audience to be key to the success of the play. When a cast member leaves the show, the “director” quickly replaces them with a willing audience member, who takes on that role, and all that it entails, until the end. And they are also needed from the very beginning, when Ernest himself does not show up.
It’s a dramatic start and really sets the tone for the fun chaos to come. But it also means that there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered when we started developing the series. Last but not least, how do we introduce justifiable reasons for the cast to keep dropping out? How do we find ways to disrupt the show?
A lot of our ideas came, naturally, from clichés or tropes in the theater world, like an actor unable to improvise himself out of a sticky situation, suddenly landing a better role or showing off to the point of losing his voice. . . This method is fun because we like to show that audience members are actually much more reliable than actors ever were.
Another great technique for finding ways to disrupt the play is to think of a creative activity an audience member would like to do, then figure out a way to use it to advance the plot. We want to empower the audience as artists and put on a play, so why not do both at the same time? Things like painting a portrait, writing poetry, and dancing a tango are great for letting the audience get really creative while driving the show forward.
However, it was the simplest method that turned out to be the best for coming up with ideas for “breaking up” the room. Quite simply, wondering what would really happen often worked better than anything else. The play’s first problem and solution – Ernest not showing up and being recast with an audience member – would undoubtedly set off a chaotic chain of events that would affect every cast member in some way. . Following this chain step by step, we imagined how a real cast might react and what else would inevitably go wrong. After all, the more truth there is to events on stage, the more fun it is to watch.
Our biggest tool though (and it may sound like cheating) is to have an extremely talented cast who willingly put themselves in the nightmare scenario of not knowing what’s going to happen next. Because, despite everything I’ve just written here, the real way to break the streak is… to literally break it. We really need the audience to step in and save the play. But of course, once they’re up there, you don’t know what might happen.
We’d like to think that Oscar Wilde himself wouldn’t blame us too much for the liberties we took with his play. In fact, he’d probably be the first person to raise his hand and play Ernest when he sees how much fun the audience is having.
After all, his original play was about characters pretending to be people they weren’t and discovering the joys of leading double lives, so it’s only fitting that audiences can finally enjoy that too.
The Importance of Being…Earnest?, Pleasance Courtyard (Beyond), 1:30, August 3-28 (no day off)
Photo credit: Mann Bros.