The rehearsals of ”The Importance of being Earnest” are in full effect a week before the premier at November 29. The play in itself is a well known comedy classic. Umeå Theatre company, however, has decided to give it a contemporary twist.

Umeå Theatre Company’s play is a modern take on one of Oscar Wildes most beloved comedy plays. Vertex went to Ljusgården in Lärarutbildningshuset on Campus to take the temperature on the company at one of their rehearsals.

The director and founder of Umeå Theatre Company, Erik Campano, gives some insight as to why he wrote a contemporary adaptation of the play that includes updated references and modern jokes.
– The Importance of Being Earnest is a funny play made for a victorian audience in England. And Umeå Theatre company is an experimental theatre group, so a modern adaptation is a result of the question; ’how do we make the play funny for an audience in Umeå 2018?’.

This version of the play is set in Brussel in the year 2018. The original play was set in London, the mecka of England. Brussel, with the European Union, can be viewed as the equivalent mecka for Europe, Eric Campano explains. And since the majority of the actors are international, with English as a second language, the setting also enables them to keep their own accents.

Three of the actors sat down with Vertex and spoke to us about how it is to work with the company.
What is the best part about being an actor with Umeå Theatre Company?
– The company is creativity without borders. It is a community, says Hjalmar Steinvall, in the role of Oscar Wilde .
– It is internationally inclusive, open and non-judgmental, says Joe Jung-Melms, in the role of June.

Hjalmar Steinwall continues by saying that their production is for anyone who likes to laugh. A statement that Minna Kantola, in the role of Agusta Täti, agrees on:
– It’s a fun and fresh take on a well known classical.

There are around 80-100 active people making this play happen. The actors amazing costumes are the works of costume designer Ariann Taherie and costume consultant Lou Lidström. And the make-up is the artwork of Luyolo Mazomba and Elpida Barupouni.
What do you want your audience to bring with them from the play?
– Our hope is that every single member of the audience will laugh so hard attending the play that they feel the need to go outside for some fresh air. And also leaving with a love for Oscar Wilde, Eric Campano concludes.

The play premiers the 29th of November at Umeå University in Ljusgården.

Text & photo:
Julia Lidman