Say It Again, Sorry?’s new show, The Importance of Being… Earnest?, comes to the Omnibus Theatre on 10th March -15th March ahead of a run at the Brighton Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and a national tour. We got a chance to sit down with Simon Paris, the Artistic Director of Say It Again, Sorry? just before it all begins!
Omnibus Theatre: So firstly, tell me how the idea of an interactive Importance of Being Earnest first came about. Where did the idea come from?
Simon Paris: The idea of making Earnest an interactive play, came as a continuation of our work as a company. Our interactive art show Easel Peasel has toured the UK festival scene such as Glastonbury, Wilderness and Nozstock, following this, we were inspired to create a concept that took this idea to the next level. We thought about how other arts forms could lend themselves to our aim and allowing the audience to get the most out of being creative. We came to the conclusion it could work to do a play and get the audience to be in it. Surely it “wouldn’t be too much work”. A year and a half later of constant work, we’re here with a UK tour of The Importance of Being… Earnest!
OT: How interactive are we talking exactly?
SP: There are different levels of interaction, some interactive moments you won’t even have to leave your seat – others will include full make-up and costume, there is something for everyone.
OT: How do you get the audience to do the play, if they don’t know it?
SP: The fun we’ve had in rehearsals is mainly finding different techniques of getting somebody who has no idea about The Importance of Being Earnest and actually manage to get through it, without just handing them a script and hoping for the best. The bits that worked we kept, the bits that didn’t we cut.
OT: I’m quite shy, do I have to get involved?
SP: All interaction is voluntary and if you’re giving off “don’t pick me vibes” don’t worry – you won’t be picked.
OT: And how do you rehearse this?
SP: The company have been devising and rehearsing this show over the past year or so but before productions we have intensive two week periods. This is where we hold our open-rehearsals, a lot of the time our observers are keen to get involved, so we rehearse with them & get their feedback (usually in the form of laughter). If we don’t have any observers in, the actors take it in turn to do their best, ‘audience’ impression and play along, chucking in a challenge or two!
OT: So… it’s immersive?
SP: A lot of theatre brands itself as immersive and the skeptic in me imagines they do this to add an extra £15 to the ticket price. This probably can be considered immersive, but we’re branding this as interactive.
OT: Finally, what’s the plan for Say It Again, Sorry? over the next few years?
SP:Before we tackle the West End, we’re planning on taking Earnest on tour over 2021, trying out the concept of this show with different plays and experiment with how other art forms can be twisted to make the audience the creator.
Simon Paris is the Artistic Director of Say It Again, Sorry? which is bringing The Importance of Being… Earnest? here 10-15 March – get your tickets HERE→