So, when Easter Smith talked with Clopton, she eagerly embraced the opportunity to delve into the play that her mother had such a fondness for. This is the author’s first time directing a show at the Actors Studio. Easter Smith is the author of several historical novels.
“Having the family history with ‘Lady Windermere’ and having the only review and photographic souvenir of my mother’s short-lived acting career, I leaped at the chance to study the play and choose my own cast,” she wrote in an email. “There is a wealth of talent in this community and I am so lucky that many of my first ‘asks’ for roles were able to accept. With only six rehearsals, I needed experienced actors who would run with their characters while I applied the mechanics of moving 11 of them around the small stage.”
Wilde’s play is being performed as a staged reading, meaning the actors can remain seated and use scripts. Typically, there are few props or sets. The production is the latest in the theater’s new Classics Series, in which actors present works by celebrated playwrights in staged reading form.
“The intention is to present great plays that would otherwise be too costly to present and to keep the ticket prices reasonable,” Clopton wrote. “These plays are different from the new plays and mainstream plays we usually produce, so they expand our scope as a presenter.
“I hope audiences will feel excited to see a play by Oscar Wilde and either discover him as a writer or reintroduce themselves to him,” he added.
The play’s underlying message continues to ring as true today as it did when it was written, Clopton said.
“This is a play that lives as vitally in 2012 as it did in 1894,” he wrote in an email. “The play is about our need for community and the chance to belong. It is also about the the false values we create and how they work against us.”