The American Shakespeare Center (ASC) will present a free performance of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in Longwood University’s Jarman Auditorium on Monday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m.  

The performance by the internationally acclaimed theatre company is being presented jointly by Longwood’s Department of English and Modern Languages and Hampden-Sydney College.

Tickets are not required. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., at which time the ASC performers will present a musical and comic pre-show before the curtain goes up on The Importance of Being Earnest.

"Oscar Wilde’s brilliant and wicked comic masterpiece defines wit and style," the ASC website says of the play. "120 years after its first performance, The Importance of Being Earnest continues to delight audiences with its playful language, charming characters and biting look at contemporary society."

A Longwood English professor, Dr. Chene Heady, saw the ASC present the play at its home theater in Staunton in 2011. "They do a great job making the play fun and accessible for a contemporary audience," he said. "This is one of the greatest farces of all time, a comedy of feigned and divided identities that remains relevant in our age of online personas and avatars."

The play was the overwhelming preference among faculty at both Longwood and H-SC when offered a choice of the three plays ASC is touring this fall, said Dr. Robin Smith, a Longwood English professor who is one of the organizers. "Everybody’s reaction to The Importance of Being Earnest was ‘Oh, what fun!,’" said Smith.

This is the third consecutive year that the ASC has presented a free performance at Longwood, sponsored jointly with H-SC. Last year’s performance was Hamlet, and The Merry Wives of Windsor was presented in 2013.

Teachers bringing a group of students should contact to arrange reserved seating for a group of more than 10.

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