When Anne Easter Smith watches this weekend’s production at the Actors Studio in Newburyport, no doubt, she’ll be keeping an eye on all the actors — after all she’s the director — but there’s likely one role in particular that may make her smile a little bigger.
Smith is directing the black box studio’s production of Oscar Wilde’s play, “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” tomorrow and Saturday. The comedy, which satirizes Victorian society and their morals of marriage, was first produced in 1892 in London. “Lady Windmere’s Fan” tells the tale of a woman who discovers that her husband may be having an affair. She confronts him, but he instead invites the other woman, Mrs. Erlynne, to his wife’s birthday. Angered by his unfaithfulness, Lady Windermere leaves her husband for another man.
Newburyport’s Easter Smith, a UK native, was approached by Actors Studio owner Marc Clopton earlier this fall and asked to direct a performance in the new Classics Series; he thought she would be a good fit for a play by Wilde. And for Easter Smith, working on the play also allows her a chance to explore a character that her own mother once performed for audiences.
Her mother, Peggy Easter, trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, Easter Smith said.
“My father, who had studied voice at the Guildhall School of Music, joined the British Army and worked in Churchill’s War Office while my mother and sister were evacuated to the country,” Easter Smith said. “I was born two weeks after D-day, the operation for which my father was in charge of movement control. He was sent, with his family, to Germany after the war; and while based in Hamburg, my mother discovered the Rhine Army Theatre Club was looking for volunteers to perform at all the British Army camps stationed in Germany. With her training at one of the premier acting schools in England, (she) was immediately snapped up and took leading-lady roles for a couple of years. Mrs. Erlynne in ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ was a favorite role of hers.”