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JANUARY 25 – FEBRUARY 25, 2023
Previews: January 25 & 26 at 7:30pm
Opening Night: January 27 at 8pm
Pay What You Can: February 1 at 7:30pm
Sat Mat: 2pm
Read the digital program in advance (Coming soon!)
P.S. Don’t forget: Subscribers get $7 off additional regularly priced single tickets to Jewell Mainstage productions!
Kicking off Taproot Theatre’s 2023 Jewell Mainstage Season this winter is Oscar Wilde’s comedic classic, A Woman of No Importance. As relevant today as it was when it was first staged 130 years ago, the play looks at the way that society upholds double standards and subverts the very things that other stories of its era endorsed. Directed by Taproot’s Producing Artistic Director, Karen Lund, the show opens on January 27, 2023, and runs through February 25, 2023.
Gerald’s prospects are bright as he celebrates his new position with the notorious Lord Illingworth. But amidst the glittering banter at Lady Hunstanton’s party, a long buried scandal is revealed. Will the unveiling of Gerald’s lineage change the trajectory of his future? And what of the lovely American who’s captured his heart?
“In his comedies, Wilde laughs at the hypocrisies of the British elite in the 1890s,” said Lund. “A Woman of No Importance involves Lord Illingsworth, who is a rake. Many years ago, he seduced a young woman with a promise of forever love. But he refused to marry her when she became pregnant. She paid the price for their affair. But in a society that is indulgent of men who sow their wild oats, scandal can’t damage him. In this play, we find an older Lord Illingsworth at a weekend house party, still chasing the ladies. He wants to have his cake and eat it too. And that’s where Wilde comes in and upends the way things are done.”
A Woman of No Importance is the fourth and final of Oscar Wilde’s comedies that Taproot’s Producing Artistic Director Karen Lund will have directed. She first directed The Importance of Being Earnest in 2007, followed by An Ideal Husband in 2011 and Lady Windermere’s Fan in 2018.
“A Woman of No Importance is part of a canon of Wilde’s incredible wit. What’s so great about it is that it plays with all the ideas that are in the other three,” Lund said. “This play was one of the most modern pieces of its time when it premiered in 1893. Wilde managed to poke fun at the very people who paid to sit in the seats, and he got them to laugh, too, as he gave them a compelling story that addresses grace, humanity, and forgiveness, as well as responsibility and sacrifice—things that are as relevant in our society today as they were in Wilde’s time.”
“In the way that Wilde addressed sacrifice and revenge–particularly involving Mrs. Arbuthnot, who would be the title’s “woman of no importance”—he was doing something subversive that was pushing the envelope during his time,” Lund said. “I won’t give any spoilers, but he refused to play into what was considered the assumed ‘happy ending’ of his day.”
Lund directs Bretteney Beverly, Tyler Campbell, Rebecca M. Davis, Will Eames, Melanie Hampton, Bill Johns, Juliette Jones, Aaron Lamb, Nolan Palmer, Candace Vance, and Nikki Visel.
The production team includes Mark Lund, scenic and sound design; Jocelyne Fowler, costume design; Michael Wellborn, lighting design; Claire Stark, stage manager; Christopher Kidder-Mostrom, fight choreographer; Alyssa Keene, dialect coach; and Sonja Lowe, dramaturg.
Tickets are on sale now! Learn more here →
In this interview with M.J. Murdock Arts Admin Intern, Amber Granger, get to know actor Aaron Lamb, who is returning to the Taproot stage for the 2023 season.
Amber Granger: What is your favorite thing about costume design?
Jocelyn Fowler: I enjoy bringing characters to life through their clothing – using color, pattern, style and cut to help show the characters personality traits and emotions. I think that clothing can say a lot about a person or character, and it is a delight to be able to help bring that to life.
AG: Are there any particular delights or challenges when designing a period piece like A Woman of No Importance?
JF: When it comes to period costume design the challenge is always around how historically accurate the show needs to be. When it comes to colors, items of clothing and accessories, it can be challenging to decide when to break the historical accuracy in favor of the way the production is going to tell the story. It is not always practical or can slow a show down if you are always trying to be historically accurate, especially when it comes to small items like accessories.
AG: The impressionist painter, Renoir, is one of the design inspirations for this play. Why Renoir? And how, if at all, does this inspiration appear in the costume design?
JF: Renoir’s paints have a whimsical, nostalgic, and communal quality to them, which gives a charming view of the time period that he lived in. I am mainly drawing color inspiration from Renoir. His paintings tend to have some lovely, vivid colors and bold patterns that I find delightful. They are not the typical stogy dark colors that we can link with the Victorian clothing era.
AG: One of the major conflicts in A Woman of No Importance is around class differences. How have the costumes been constructed to convey these differences between characters?
JF: Class difference will be most noticeable when it comes to the quality of fabric or pattern, as well as the amount of accessories, such as jewelry. Lower class clothing will be less adorned with trimmings, which are an expense that [historically the lower class] would not have partaken in. Through the men, I might also play around with the lengths of jackets to show class difference.
AG: Is there anything else that you’d like to share about yourself, costume design, or the show?
JF: Overall, I find the late Victorian period to be delightfully fun. It can be a nice challenge to break out and play around with the tight laced, high collars of the period that seem to contrast with some of the flirtations that occur during this time. I also think that Wilde’s works are clever and funny, to be able to bring his work to life with color and pattern is a joy.
January 21 – March 4, 2023
“The earth and the life that abounds on this planet are part of a great mystery. This is what I work to capture in my art through the layers of color, pattern and imagery. Despite the dense layers of civilization, our busy lives and our mobile phones, if we pause for a moment, we discover that we are not so very far away from our origins, and that nature has the power to bring us back to a place of tranquility, silence, and surprise.”
– Melissa Koch
Color and form, pattern and myth – these elements serve painter Melissa Koch well in her expressions of nature and our cultural role within it. Animals, flowers, trees, humans – forms that are familiar, but abstracted into silhouettes, transforming nature into wayfaring signs for exploration. That transformation brings a power representational versions might not. Silhouettes themselves carry a deep significance to American culture, particularly the 18th and 19th century, in which they served as an inexpensive portraiture for the masses.
Melissa’s figures also reference myth and storytelling. The juxtaposition of flora and fauna with shapes and patterns of color form a visual language we want to learn. The images are soft and the colors inspire our imagination.
Melissa is a visual artist, educator, and advocate for environmental justice. She grew up on a Greek island, studied architecture in England and further evolved her arts practice in Belgium. Upon returning to the United States, she spent many years teaching youth about sustainability as part of a program she co-created with a Haida master canoe carver. Together with the youth and community they carved a number of ocean-going canoes. Melissa’s current art-making process is focused on inspiring conversations about transformation, healing, and protecting the natural environment. She currently lives on Whidbey Island and is active in the arts and finding ways to best serve the local community in uplifting and creative ways.
Paintings are available for sale unless marked by a red dot. Please contact the artist directly to purchase: email@example.com. Melissa Koch’s work can be viewed online at melissakochfinearts.com.
– Gina Cavallo, Curator, Director of Development, Taproot Theatre
“’Tis a gift to be simple,” sing the Shakers of Pleasant Hill. But as the young women in the community claim new spiritual gifts, Sister Hannah and the other elders must judge whether these gifts are real or rebellion. Set during America’s surge of Utopian communities, the play wrestles with belief and doubt in a swiftly changing world.
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