The British Accents of “The Importance of Being Earnest”

Student actors at Concordia University Wisconsin are working on British accents for the upcoming fall production of The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

The play this fall season brought a new challenge to the actors. They had to learn a British accent.

Senior Josiah Reyes auditioned for the production with no previous knowledge of how to do a British accent.

“I actually did my audition without a British accent even though it was preferred because I was nervous to use it and knew I needed to learn it better. I practiced in front of some of my friends and they said I sounded like Forest Gump so as you see improvement was needed,” Reyes said.

At a few of the rehearsals, the actors learned as a group how to become comfortable with the accent.

“We spent rehearsals together just articulating different words over and over again.  At first, it was tedious but then I realized how it was the key to perfecting the accent,” Reyes said.

After hours spent specifically on learning in rehearsal, the actors practiced British on their own time.

Senior Levi Perrine is playing the part of Algernon Moncrieff has a large speaking role. Perrine needed extra time to perfect it. He practiced it so much that it became hard to stop speaking in the accent.

“Typically, for ten or so minutes after rehearsal, I have to actively decide to speak specifically in my own speaking voice,” Perrine said.

Overall, the actors feel learning British is a challenging task but worth the effort.

“The style of speaking in Victorian England has a very distinct flavor, and without the accent, a large part of the interactions between the characters would be lost on the audience,” Perrine said.

The actors are eager to perform the product of their hard work in The Importance of Being Earnest on October 15-18 in the Todd Wehr Auditorium.

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