Year: 1958-59

Title of the play: The Importance of Being Earnest

Author: Oscar Wilde


Others in the Cast:

Company/Event: New Zealand Players

Theatre and location: New Zealand National Tour

Other productions of the same play:  1977, dir. Tenniel Evans, The Actors’ Company at The Roundhouse, London. This time Peth played Dr Chasuble. 

Plot summary: Jack Worthing uses his entirely imaginary, dissolute brother Earnest as an excuse to run up to town and woo the beautiful Gwendoline. His old friend Algernon Moncrieff finds out about this double life and turns up at Jack’s country house, posing as the brother.

Peth’s role: Algernon Moncrieff / Dr Chasuble in 1977


Production details:

Related links: Interview with Peth

While playing the part of Algernon Moncrieff in  the New Zealand Players’ production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in 1958, he realized ‘that High Comedy like this was a physical thing as much as vocal. ... To find oneself effortlessly with one’s weight on the correct foot, to be able instinctively to know what to do — and more importantly what not to do — with one’s hands, to act with one’s whole body and soul within the confines of elegant West End drawing room comedy was to be ‘bounded in a nutshell and count oneself a king of infinite space’.’  Kathleen Riley 


And from an EP interview, which clearly refers to the trip back after the tour: 
I was 23 when I read Wuthering Heights on a ship, returning from working in New Zealand. I remember particularly reading of the familiar Yorkshire landscape – so wild and yet close to my home, the then sooty industrial town of Bradford – as I looked out on sand and camels on our way through the Suez Canal. I heard some of the book again recently on a sadly defunct digital station called One Word – the book was even better than I remembered – in fact there were whole tracts of it I’d forgotten.  I add it to that lengthening list. - Interview with Vulpes Libres


Peth's NZ connection

Edward Petherbridge was born in Bolton in 1939 and brings an inestimable wealth of experience, talent and wisdom to the Fortune production of King Lear. He has worked in New Zealand twice before. In 1958-9 he was the leading man in the New Zealand Players national tours of The Importance of Being Earnest and Spider's Web. He also toured with the Players theatre in education quartet and took part in NZBC radio dramas. He returned to New Zealand in 1976, touring the South Island with the Royal Shakespeare Company presentations of The Hollow Crown and Pleasure and Repentence. - Mediacom


 Pic here

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