Pan Productions will welcome in the new year with Wilde’s quintessentially English masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest at the Tower Theatre. Their first play in English, it is created with a team of immigrant actors and creatives, who, like the characters in the play, are constantly asked where they are from, when all they want to explain is who they are.
Directed by award-winning director Aylin Bozok (Children of War, Arcola Theatre and British Museum; Cholera Street, Arcola Theatre), this is the story of Algernon who knows where he comes from but is unsure about who he is; and Earnest who thinks he knows who he is but not where he is from. As performative identity runs up against people’s stereotypical assumptions, The Importance of Being Earnest resonates with the unique identity crisis of the migrant experience.
A play that has been revived so many times, it is now presented by a group of actors and creatives who spoke their first words in different languages but who have made the UK their home, and English the language of their daily toil and nightly poetry. The production dwells on the unspoken rules that English society enforces and confronts the struggle to fit in when you have a different accent, a different upbringing and different cultural expectations. It makes the audience contemplate identity and belonging to create a new vision of a classic to celebrate diversity.
Director Aylin Bozok commented: “As the daughter of immigrants, I was born in Switzerland and grew up there and in Turkey, but I never felt I belonged to either. I can safely say that I feel I am a Londoner. And now tackling this quintessentially English play I find I could relate to it because despite cultural and linguistical differences, humans are humans, whether in their truth or their lies.”
Pan Productions Producer Zeynep Dalkiran added: “When Pan Productions was set up back in 2016, I had a vision of working with the diverse, international artistic community of London. I wanted to celebrate all those different identities working in disjointed harmony together. Today, I am so happy to have been able create something to blend this all together. In our new look at Wilde’s iconic play we have added many new flavours through both the casting and the direction. Oscar Wilde was an immigrant, but he didn’t tell stories of immigrants. He told human stories. The stories we tell in our work are not only the stories of Turks, Romanians, Italians or Scots or indeed the English. All are in our team and all add their experiences into the mix to tell you this story wherever you are from. We are very excited to share it with you.”
The Importance of Being Earnest runs at the Tower Theatre from 6 to 18 January 2020.