Theatre

A riot of laughter

Staging of the play Lady Windermere’s Fan

Staging of the play Lady Windermere’s Fan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Students of the English Department, EMG Yadava Women's College, stage Oscar Wilde's Victorian Comedy Lady Windermere's Fan

Archways with floral designs, furniture in cream and gold, delicate candle stands and tinkling goblets depict erstwhile London households. Add to it characters walking graciously in flowing gowns with lacy ribbons and pleated bustles. It makes a picture-perfect moment of the opulent Victorian era. Staging Oscar Wilde's four-act comedy Lady Windermere's Fan, the students of English Department, EMG Yadava Women's College, brought to life various aspects of the play that's one of the popular works of the Irish playwright. The play is a laughter riot with undertones of satire at the society and its norms. Replete with lots of interesting twists, the plot is an engaging story. And the effortless performance of the collegians made people sit in rapture.

The story opens in the living room of the Windermeres' house, with young Lady Windermere planning to throw a party for her birthday. It's tea time and the Duchess of Berwick arrives with a gossip doing rounds in London's up-scale social circles. And it is about Lord Windermere's extra-marital affair with Mrs.Erlynne. A person of conventional views complying with social norms, Lady Windermere grows suspicious of her husband and confronts him on the matter. Although denying the charge, Lord Windermere invites Mrs.Erlynne to the birthday ball against the wishes of his wife. Upset over her husband's unexplained fascination for another woman, Lady Windermere leaves for her charming and persuading friend Lord Darlington. What conspires is a heady twist of events and later, it's revealed that Mrs.Erlynne is actually the mother of Lady Windermere. Realising the misconception, Mrs. Erlynne sacrifices her image in the society to help her daughter reunite with her husband.

“Ever since, we started rehearsing for the play, I began to live the character of Lady Windermere. I read through the play numerous times to understand the nuances of it, so that I could do justice to the character on stage,” says B Shivani, student of second year, MA English. “The play is not a plain comedy but has lots of wit, irony and sarcasm in it, which we had to bring out. Though, it took much effort, we really enjoyed staging it.”

Kanmani of third Year, BA English, did a good job as Mrs. Erlynne. “The character of Mrs.Erlynne was the most complicated as she was an enigma. Until the fag end of the story, the real identity and the nature of her relationship with the Windermeres remains a puzzle and I had to switch between emotions of a longing mother and a stoic socialite woman to make it appear authentic. I learnt how voice modulation and body language also matters and differs from scene-to-scene,” says Kanmani. The performances of V. Deepika of Second Year, BA English as Lord Darlington, T SwathiSri of Third Year, BA English, as Lord Augustus and T. Priyadharshini of First Year, MA English, as Lady Plymdale were also commendable.

Andrina Genesia Quinn, the director of the play points out that she was very particular about the authenticity of the play. “I took attention to detail, right from the costumes to the sets and props, so that we could recreate the English high society and the Victorian ambience on stage.” S Ganga Devi, The Dean of the College and The Head of the Department of English, says, “It was an onerous task to make the actors deliver the English dialogues perfectly as most of them come from rural background and had studied in Tamil medium before. Moreover, many of them are first generation graduates and we believe involving them in theatre would help boost their confidence.”

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 4:59:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/students-of-the-english-department-emg-yadava-womens-college-stage-oscar-wildes-victorian-comedy-lady-windermeres-fan/article23243773.ece

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