CHAPEL HILL — Hilarity takes the stage as PlayMakers Repertory Company concludes its 2009-10 main-stage season with Oscar Wilde’s comedy classic, “The Importance of Being Earnest” March 3-21.

 

PlayMakers is the professional theater in residence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

The most enduringly popular of Wilde’s plays is hailed as one of the funniest comedies in the English language. Wicked wit and dead-on social satire are wrapped in a Victorian confection of dual identities, matters matrimonial and the provenance of a particularly pertinent handbag.

 

In the words of the playwright himself, “a trivial comedy for serious people.” The New York Times called it “endlessly funny comedy … swift, sardonic repartee (that) ripples through the ages.”

 

“This play is pure enjoyment,” said Joseph Haj, PlayMakers producing artistic director. “But between the laughs Wilde’s dazzling wordplay delivers a subversive look at society’s hypocrisy.”

 

PlayMakers’ production includes a casting treat, featuring company member Ray Dooley as the terrifying, imperious and altogether wonderful Lady Bracknell, a role usually played by great Dames, such as legendary British actresses Edith Evans and Judi Dench. 

 

All performances will be in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Center for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Show times will be 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, and 2 p.m. Sundays. For a complete schedule, more information and to purchase tickets, call (919) 962-PLAY (7529) or visit www.playmakersrep.org. Tickets are $10 to $40.

 

In conjunction with “Earnest,” PlayMakers hosts “The Vision Series-Directors in Conversation,” an intimate preview of the show with director Matthew Arbour, on Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.

 

“The Vision Series” is free and open to the public. Theater-goers and others interested in the creative process are invited to the Paul Green Theatre to share wine, coffee and refreshments, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the design and vision for the show. Reservations are encouraged, as space is limited. Call PlayMakers’ box office at 919.962.7529.

 

Other special events during “Earnest” will include:

 

  • A behind-the-scenes chat with director Matthew Arbour about the process of working on Wilde’s “trivial comedy for serious people” at the Durham County Library’s main branch, 300 N. Roxboro St., Feb. 22, 7 p.m;

 

  •   “It’s All in the Details,” creating the costumes for “Earnest” with director Matthew Arbour, costume designer Anne Kennedy and PlayMakers costume craftsperson Rachel Pollock, plus an up-close look at costume sketches and costume pieces from the production, at McIntyre’s Fine Books , 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro, March 1, 7 p.m.;
  • Preview performances March 3-5 at 8 p.m.;
  • A complimentary party following the opening night performance March 6 at 8 p.m.;
  • Free post-show discussions with the “Earnest” creative team on March 10 and 14;

 

 

  • “Comedy on the Stage from Rome to Wilde” presented by UNC’s Program in the Humanities and Human Values, March 19-20. An exploration of Wilde’s play within the larger history of comedies, from Roman comedies, through English plays of the 16th and 17th centuries. For information or to register: http://www.unc.edu/depts/human/level_3/2010_Spring/7-Wilde.htm;

 

  • Free post-show “Mindplay” discussions about characters and themes in the play sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society on March 20 and 21; and

 

  • An all-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description, on March 16.

 

Carolina Meadows and NetApp are co-producing sponsors for the show. Counter Culture Coffee provides coffee for “The Vision Series” and Whole Foods Market of Chapel Hill is the food and wine sponsor.

 

Following “Earnest,” PlayMakers will present “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me By a Young Lady From Rwanda” as its PRC2 second-stage series finale (March 24-28). 

Based in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, PlayMakers is the Carolinas’ premiere resident professional theater company. The Drama League has named PlayMakers one of the “best regional theatre companies in America.”

Coverage note: Media are welcome to cover “The Vision Series” preview and talk by director Matthew Arbour Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m. Photography, videography, lights and flashes are not restricted. For assistance, call (919) 428-1744.

Web site: www.playmakersrep.org

 

PlayMakers contact: Connie Mahan, (919) 428-1744, cmahan@email.unc.edu