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The English Theatre Of Hamburg

February, 2013

Dear Friends,

We are happy to announce the premiere of Oscar Wilde’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST on 21 February, 2013.

It is our pleasure to welcome Julian Woolford back to the English Theatre of Hamburg to direct this marvelous play. You may remember that Julian directed Bernard Shaw's MRS WARREN'S PROFESSION for us a couple of years ago. In that production you saw the actor Joel Sams, whom we are also pleased to welcome back for THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. The seven newcomers, in addition to Joel, are pictured below. We hope they will enjoy their stay in Hamburg.

Production plans are already underway for the final play of our current season, Rich Orloff’s BIG BOYS, a comedy that deals in a hilarious way with what is worst in American corporate culture. This play has been produced successfully in the United States and is one that we think you will enjoy.

If you would like to download teaching material for THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST click here.

Sincerely yours,

The Directors

Clifford Dean and Robert Rumpf

The English Theatre of Hamburg  |  U-Bahn Mundsburg
Lerchenfeld 14  |  22081 Hamburg  |  Germany
Fax: 040 229 50 40  |  Tickets: 040 227 70 89
This issue


Starting at the top the actors are from left to right Adrian Palmer, Joel Sams, Graham Hoadly, George Evans, Julia Barrie, Francesca Bailey, Joanna Sawyer and Judith Street
Adrian Palmer Joel Sams Graham Hoadly George Evans
Julia Barrie Francesca Bailey Joanna Sawyer Judith Street

TOUCH AND GO closes on 9 February. Don't miss this laugh fest!

The perfect Christmas Gift


The perfect Christmas Gift

Production Comments by the Director (Julian Woolford) of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST:

Never Had it So Good

The 1950s were a time of change in Britain. All of Europe began to rebuild after the post-war austerity in the late 1940s, and in Britain this took the form of new towns, built on agricultural land surrounding large cities. These towns, like Basildon, Bracknell and Harlow were designed to house those who had previously lived in the parts of London, particularly the East End, that had been most damaged during the war.
This building, and the establishment of other large social projects, such as the founding of the National Health Service, led to an economic boom that fuelled a demand for consumer products such as refrigerators, washing machines and televisions. This boom also provided employment for almost every able working person and a sense of optimism pervaded the country. In 1957 the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan famously told the British people “You’ve never had it so good.” – and they believed him.
This was especially true for young people. Conscription, or National Service was coming to an end, and the future looked bright for the young, who could look forward to a job for life, a health service to look after them and the promise of a healthy state pension at their retirement. As with every generation the young began to break free from the old.
In 1958 (the year I have set the play) the new young Queen Elizabeth II abolished the tradition of the presentation of debutantes to the monarch. At this ceremony young ladies (normally aged 17 – 19) from the top of the social strata were presented to the Queen at the beginning of the social season. This was when suitable bachelors would aim to find an appropriate wife. The young ladies had to be proposed to court by a woman who had, herself, been presented when young. This gave the older generation great power over the youngsters’ social lives. For the older generation, women like Lady Bracknell in the play, the abolition of this ceremony represented the passing of an era as their power slipped away.
Change was happening in music too. In the early 1950s popular music was still much as it had been during the war and artistes, such as Doris Day and Vera Lynn, recorded songs that both youngsters and their parents could enjoy. Many of the most popular songs were ‘novelty songs’, which had comedy lyrics that would make you smile, if not laugh out loud. These included ‘How Much is That Doggie in the Window’, and ‘You Must Never Do A Tango With An Eskimo’.
In 1954 an energetic new sound filled the air as Bill Haley and the Comets released ‘Rock Around The Clock’, the first rock’n’roll song to find popular success. From then on music would never be the same again and teenagers and their parents would rarely enjoy it together. 
But rock’n’roll did not dominate the airwaves overnight and novelty songs continued to enjoy popularity right up until the 1960s, with artistes such as Alma Cogan, Flanders and Swann and Doris Day all releasing them.
The sense of fun and optimism about the future makes 1958 the perfect year for setting ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. The play is about young people breaking free of the older generation and making their own decisions. The abolition of the presentation of debutantes was the biggest symbol that Britain was moving forward into a brave new world where the conventions of the past would be swept away. The young people in the play, Jack, Algy, Gwendonlen and Cecily will flourish there. Lady Bracknell will not understand rock’n’roll – and nor will she want to!

Julian Woolford
Julian Woolford


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