An Earnestly Performed Show


Freshman Chloe Malcolm and senior Ariel Thomas play off of each other’s characters in a mid-play scene. They had only weeks to prepare their characters, having to quickly memorize lines, find costumes, and practice with one another.

Gold-encrusted balconies wrap around a bustling 1895 theatre that is aglow with the excitement of opening night. The town riffraff and cabinet ministers alike anticipate being lured into a world of fiction by the first lines of dialogue. The first performance of “The Importance of Being Earnest” is 122 years into the past, but its spirit continues to manifest itself in Conifer’s drama department.

   Led by new drama teacher Jo Gerlick, students of all grades put on Oscar Wilde’s infamous play, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” from October 21 to October 22.

   “For my first show, I really wanted to pick something challenging but also something that [the students] could do. I also wanted to pick something that I was really familiar with. I kind of had a short timeline to pick my shows, and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ is just one of those shows that always clicked in and connected with me, so I really wanted to share it with my new students.”

   The play follows a happy-go-lucky man named John Worthing who finds a way to often leave his country home and venture into London by inventing a mischievous brother by the name of Earnest. The play flies by, injected with many elements of romance, satire, and above all, humour.

   “I wanted [students] to be able to find the comedy and find the joy in something old, something that they may think is too above them or they’re too disconnected from,” Gerlick said.

   Stepping into the shoes of characters from 1800s England has been a brand new struggle for much of the cast, but becoming those people has also been a learning experience and a great joy.

   “Probably the accent [has been the most challenging part], that doesn’t work out well for me,” freshman Julianna Halstrom, who played Gwendolyn, said. “It either comes out Scottish or southern, and it’s supposed to be an old English accent… [But my character is] really witty and it’s fun to play that, but she also thinks that she has everybody wrapped around her finger, and it’s funny to read into the lines.”

   The short period of time the cast had to rehearse was certainly an obstacle, but they went into full-gear and worked within their time restraints. In just weeks, actors developed their characters, memorized lines, and delved into the world that playwright Oscar Wilde created.  

   “It’s such a roller coaster,” Gerlick said. “These high school students will completely surprise you with what they can do. I choose to never think of them just as high school students, because that doesn’t really work for them. To me, they’re young, but they’re artists, and I know what they’re capable of.”