Open Forum

Gender-swapped Earnest?

  • 1.  Gender-swapped Earnest?

    Posted 11-19-2019 14:52
    Has anyone ever gender-swapped The Importance of Being Earnest?  Wondering what you did, how you did it, etc.

    Jessica Shaw
    Speech and Drama Teacher
    Alexandria VA

  • 2.  RE: Gender-swapped Earnest?

    Posted 11-20-2019 07:12
    Edited by Guy Barbato 11-20-2019 07:14
    We did Earnest last year with a female Algernon.  It was a lot of fun.  The hardest part was eliminating a lot of the pronouns and gender specific wording in certain scenes.  The show is obviously in the public domain, but I tried to stay as true to the original as possible and we were able to do it with minimal alterations.  The scene with Gwendolyn and Cecily is the most crucial and took the most time.  Cecily was now in love with a woman and Gwendolyn is in love with a man, but they still have to think they are talking about the same person right up until they walk in.
      I didn't go into auditions with the intent of swapping the character, but the student we ended up casting as Algy was just so perfect for the role that we decided to make it work.  I'm glad we did, but I wouldn't do it just for the sake of swapping the character's gender.  I still have an edited version of the script with our changes I can send if you would like.


    Guy Barbato
    Theatre Teacher/Director
    Leonardtown, MD

  • 3.  RE: Gender-swapped Earnest?

    Posted 03-21-2020 19:20
    Guy, my name is Bill Dawson and I am a speech and theatre teacher, director, and coach at Waterloo West High School in Waterloo, Iowa. I am very drawn to possibly doing this as a competition piece. Would you be wiling to share your edited version with me? Thank you, Guy, for your consideration of this request and for your creative twist on this wonderful play. Appreciatively, Bill Dawson

    William Dawson
    Professional Speech and Theatre Educator, Director
    Waterloo Community Schools
    Waterloo IA

  • 4.  RE: Gender-swapped Earnest?

    Posted 11-20-2019 09:11
    There is beginning to be a bit of a tradition that allows men to play Lady Bracknell, as was done in the play's most recent Broadway production.  I would love to play the part myself.  But in order to work, it would probably have to be done like Edna in Hairspray - not an obvious joke metaphorically elbowing the audience in its collective ribs (ha-ha, it's really a guy in drag), but truly played as a woman.

    Jeff Grove
    Theatre Teacher, Aesthetics Department Chair
    Stanton College Preparatory School
    Jacksonville FL