The lights go down in Allaert Auditorium. It’s show time and “Lady Windermere’s Fan” begins. The play, which was showcased from April 15-17, took a lot of hard work and dedication to become what was seen on stage.
Before production on the play could begin, the actors had to be chosen. The audition process took place. As actors presented their audition pieces, much work was required to understand what was needed for a role in the play.
For Amanda Kochanny, who portrayed the main character, Lady Windermere, there was a lengthy time of rehearsing and time management to get her a part in the production.
“Tryouts were very hectic because I was in our studio show simultaneously, “Dark Play or stories for boys,”” Kochanny said. “I prepared my audition pieces about two weeks in advanced and was coached by a few of my peers.”
The actors not only go through preparing for the audition-once the individual process was over, each actor was given someone else to run lines with to see how they would work with each other.
“We were paired with other actors who auditioned to see how well we work with others and to look for chemistry between the actors,” Stephanie Seward said.
A cast was selected and the real magic of putting a play together would start. Rehearsals took place up until the showing of the play. It would be through these rehearsals where the actors and Director Corrine Johnson would put their time and energy into making the Oscar Wilde play a masterpiece.
“I did edit it quite a bit as it is a bit overwritten for a contemporary audience,” Johnson said.
“Lady Windermere’s Fan” takes place in the time period of the 1930s and tells the story of Lady Windermere and her dilemma of dealing with several issues that seem to be popping up in her life. Things are rough for her and her husband Lord Windermere as well as Lord Darlington, who loves her. Adding to the arising problems are the townspeople who have come to celebrate Lady Windermere’s birthday.
For a play that was written in a very specific way, the struggles of not just the script but also the play itself presented an issue that was dealt with.
“Oscar Wilde’s writing style is very complex and the humor therein is intelligent humor, so as an actor it’s your job to really dig deep into the meaning of the words,” Seward said. “If you don’t know exactly what it is you’re saying the jokes, and really the storyline in general, will be lost to the audience.”
The style of the play, while it presented challenges to the actors and director, still had one struggle that Kochanny, Seward, Johnson, and Grace Allen agreed upon. The way the actors spoke was central to the play.
“The hardest part would be to nail down the high British accents,” Allen said. “You literally have to go through each word and fix the way in which you say it to make everything sound consistent.”
“Dialect is always a tough challenge,” Johnson said. “It is hard to get everyone on the same page with accents.”
These struggles were just a small part of the play production process. It really comes down to the experiences the actors have embraced throughout “Lady Windermere’s Fan.”
“I learned so much more as an actress from playing this role and it just gives me hope for more difficult roles to come,” Kochanny said.
While the play may have wrapped up on the final performance night, it is the message that Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan” sends that stays with the play.
“We all make mistakes, but we can learn from them,” Johnson said.