The School of Performing Arts at Virginia Tech presents Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest: A Trivial Comedy for Serious People” as the final Mainstage Theatre performance of the 2017–18 season. Performances run April 18–21 at the Moss Arts Center.

This iconic farce follows two friends on their journey to find love through mishaps, identity issues, and social etiquette, set against the trials and tribulations of Victorian life. Two bachelor friends are using the same pseudonym — Ernest — to evade their social obligations, and as they court two women, hilarity ensues.

Considered to be one of Wilde’s most popular pieces, this performance explores roles of identity and notions of triviality.

“This extremely witty play was the last one that Oscar Wilde wrote and developed,” said Director Patricia Raun, a professor of theatre in the School of Performing Arts and director of the Center for Communicating Science. “It’s hilarious as it mocks the society that it represents — a society that prized style over substance. It is certainly relevant to our world today.”

Set in 1890s England, the performance will feature period design. Set designer Stefnie Cerny, of Floyd, Virginia, a senior studio art and theatre design major, said that late-19th-century art movements influenced her aesthetic choices.

“We took inspiration from British Impressionism and Art Nouveau,” said Cerny. “We wanted to represent everyday life and leisure activities, but at the same time we question the reality of the scenes, to reflect the themes in the script.”

The designers used original oil paintings and distinctive projections to reflect the farcical relationships of the characters and artistic elements of the time period, such as Art Nouveau advertisements.

When asked about the bright color palette, Cerny said, “It’s a cucumber sandwich. The aesthetics came straight from the story and the characters in the script.”

Tickets and parking

Performances run April 18-21 at 7:30 p.m. in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located in the Moss Arts Center, 190 Alumni Mall on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. 

Tickets, which are $12 for general admission and $10 for seniors and students, are available through the Moss Arts Center box office, online, or by calling 540-231-5300.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Additional parking is available after 5 p.m. on weekdays on Alumni Mall; in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Streets; in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street; and the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information can be found online.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email Susan Sanders or call 540-231-5200 during regular business hours at least eight days prior to the event.

Written by Ryan McHugh, of Blacksburg, Virginia, a graduate student studying arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts.