The Importance Of Being Earnest

A Trivial Comedy for Serious People
By Oscar Wilde

Directed by Wesley Young

What: Seeking 5 men, 2 women for Wilde’s fanciful play which he described as having been “written by a butterfly for butterflies.” Poet W. H. Auden called it “the only pure verbal opera in English.” Therefore, actors who have a facility with language and stage dialects, specifically Received Pronunciation (RP), will be given top consideration. The roles of Lady Bracknell and Gwendolyn Fairfax have been cast.

When: Sunday, Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: The Hawes Studio Theatre

To Prepare: Read the play. Read the play. Look up things unfamiliar to you. Read the play. Auditions will consist of readings from the script (see below), so no monologue is required. The language in this play is challenging so if you are seeing it for the first time in the audition you won’t be showing your best work. And, yes, you should trot out your best Standard British (again, specifically RP in the case of most of these characters.) Read the play. This play is available from many sources and though there are some variations among texts those shouldn’t be significant enough to give you difficulty in the audition. I plan mainly to use the text Wilde revised in 1899. This is the best-known three-act version. Avoid the less familiar four-act version. Read the play. Actual copies of the audition texts will, of course, be provided at then but nothing should stop you from studying the script and the audition selections on your own. Oh, and have I said, “Read the play.”?

Below are the audition readings:
Algernon and Lane
Act I. Begin- Algernon: Did you hear what I was playing, Lane?

Jack and Algernon
Act I. Begin- Algernon: How are you my dear Ernest?
Act I. Begin- Algernon: I think that is rather mean of you, Ernest…

Jack (w/ Lady B.)
Act I. Begin- Lady B: You can take a seat, Mr. Worthing.

Cecily, Prism, Dr. Chasuble
Act II. Begin- Prism: …I really don’t see why you should keep a diary at all.

Cecily, Algernon, and Merriman
Act II. Begin- Cecily: I merely came back to water the roses…

You should bring your headshot, resume, class/work schedule to the audition. Men should wear jackets and women should wear skirts to this audition. Actors auditioning on Sunday should be prepared to return the next evening as well.

Please direct any questions to Wesley Young at


  • Auditions typically happen in the first two weeks of each semester. Occasionally an exception occurs in which a spring production may audition late in the fall semester.
  • RU Theatre auditions are open, meaning anyone can audition. You don’t have to be a theatre major. Community members may audition also with the understanding that priority in casting will go to RU students.
  • Most of our auditions require prepared material. If you are not a theatre student and don’t know how to prepare and present the requested material, usually something will be supplied to you to read. Theatre majors, however, are required to prepare according to the requirements for a given audition. In the case of plays requiring very specific skills such as singing in a musical, auditionees are highly encouraged to prepare the appropriate material.
  • Performance majors are required to audition for ALL productions. More on this below. 

Other audition “words to the wise”:

  • When it comes to auditions, one of the few things in your control is your level of preparation.  Reading the play is, arguably, the most important thing you can do to prepare. The plays are available from bookstores, online vendors and/or the play publishers. 
  •  It is the expectation that all performance students audition for all shows. Our auditions are designed to provide a variety of audition experiences so take advantage of these experiences right from the start. Every audition is one more step toward becoming comfortable with the process. In addition, it allows the faculty to see your work right away.
  • Take care not to “type” yourself at this point. Prepare, come on out and let the directors decide what you are “right for.” Certainly, if there is a role you are dying to play, or you are “perfect for,” shoot for that, but keep an open mind and don’t allow the attitude of “all these characters are older and I am only 18” stop you from coming to auditions. In university theatre the plays are produced to give you the opportunity to work on them.
  • Auditions are intimidating. Talk to the upperclassmen; use the performance faculty as a resource to answer your questions. However, no matter how much inquiry you make there will be no substitute for doing your personal preparation –reading the scripts, looking up unfamiliar words/references, making choices, being familiar with what the director is looking for (read audition notices carefully), getting rest, planning to dress appropriately, knowing where you are going and arriving early to sign in, warm up, etc.
  • It is smart to attend the first night of auditions if at all possible.
  • Once you are in the audition it is important to listen to instructions, have a positive attitude, be flexible when the unexpected happens, focus on what you are doing, and, of course, that age-old challenge…allow yourself to be at ease so you can do your best work.