A new retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest is coming to town

Award-winning director Denzel Westley-Sanderson’s vibrant retelling of Oscar Wilde’s sharpest comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, is set to premiere at Leeds Playhouse this September.

Wilde’s wit will be dragged into the 21st century with chart-toppers and contemporary references in what’s being described as a fresh new retelling. It’s said the play will offer unique insight into this classic satire about dysfunctional families, class, gender and sexuality and, as a real lover of the play, I hope they don’t ruin it. I’ve seen too many plays try to add a contemporary twist and end up spoiling what was so magical about the original in the first place. Fingers crossed, though, this retelling gives people a chance to see a show they wouldn’t normally engage with.

Director Denzel says: “Touring is such a vital part of the theatre industry, and I’m excited to be a part of that, and to open the season at Leeds Playhouse with The Importance of Being Earnest. Expect all the sass, shade, and wit this play has to offer.”

James Brining, Artistic Director at Leeds Playhouse, said: “We can’t wait to work with Denzel on what promises to be an exciting part of our Autumn/Winter Season. At Leeds Playhouse, we pride ourselves on supporting visionary artists at all stages of their career as part of our pioneering Furnace artistic development programme. We feel honoured to be able to work with Denzel, to help him develop his practice and to support him as he reaches a pivotal point in what looks set to be a stellar career.

“His vision for Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest will speak to now while honouring the original work of art. It will be fresh and interrogating, unlocking the radical notions at the heart of this classic play. This exciting, contemporary version will not conform to people’s expectations – it will delve beneath the surface to bring us something bold and new.”  

ETT’s Artistic Director Richard Twyman and Executive Producer (maternity cover) said: “We’re extremely excited to begin work on Denzel Westley-Sanderson’s RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award production this autumn. This is our fourth year collaborating with the Royal Theatrical Support Trust; an award which opens up national stages to a director at a crucial point in their career, giving them the opportunity to share work with audiences across the country.

“This is a unique award which has led to some of the most thrilling work we’ve made at ETT, and we’re delighted to be working with Denzel on his production, in partnership with Leeds Playhouse and the Rose Theatre. He’s an intuitive, playful, and visionary director and we can’t wait to see what he will do with this iconic text.”

The play will run at Leeds Playhouse from 5-17 September before embarking on a tour so, if you’re not local to Leeds don’t worry! You’ll still have plenty of chance to see the show.

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