Scena brings back its wildly successful comedy of errors, The Importance of Being Earnest, a gender-bending satire of society by the renowned Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde.

Washington, DC - July 1, 2015 — The Directors of Scena Theatre are pleased to remount their hit 2011 production The Importance of Being Earnest this August at the ATLAS Performing Arts Center (Sprenger Theater). Earnest replaces Scena’s previously announced production of Anton Chekov’s Three Sisters directed by Gabriele Jakobi, which has been postponed indefinitely.

Earnest will run from August 22 – September 13 and feature an all-star cast of top DC-area actors including many Scena favorites. In 2011, Scena Theatre produced Earnest to sell-out houses and critical acclaim. Scena’s Founder and Artistic Director Robert McNamara will direct this remount as he did in 2011.


Oscar Wilde's timeless tale of class and marriage both revels in and mocks the "double life." The protagonist Jack creates an alter ego personality to indulge in pleasure outside of society's mores. On one level, Wilde celebrates the inventiveness of creating an alter ego who is free to indulge in pleasure. On another level, he criticizes the moral hypocrisy of the British upper class that routinely engaged in such behavior. Both dualities are tested when thrust into the societal demands of status, love and marriage.


Ironically, Oscar Wilde was quite similar to Britain's elite in the late 19th century: he was married and had a child, yet he was also a closet homosexual who had trysts with young teenage men. This production is most timely given the recent national debate and the ensuing Supreme Court ruling over the legality of gay marriage in the US. Were he alive today, Oscar Wilde would be pleased with the decision and he would certainly feel redeemed.


The plot of Earnest is full of slapstick twists and turns. A simple engagement proposal turns into a comedy of errors, and what was initially certain becomes deliciously muddled in this play’s topsy-turvy world. Many characters in Earnest actually possess gender qualities typical of the opposite sex. So, Scena Theatre celebrates these dualities once again with cross-gender casting. Men are playing strong female characters, and women are playing stylish, effeminate male characters. These casting choices are most timely given the recent story of Bruce Jenner, the first transgendered person to grace the cover of a national US magazine, Vanity Fare, in July 2015.

Further, this production is re-set in the roaring 1920s to further celebrate a liberating era where many women were free to act like men—smoking, drinking and copulating. This production is live theater at its best, as Washington, DC theatregoers will get to enjoy a wonderfully rich and hilarious evening of entertainment.

In the end, patrons will discover how in life "all is not as it seems" on the surface. Artistic Director, Robert McNamara likens Wilde to an "Irish outsider” who subverted and exposed the underbelly of English society and establishment. McNamara noted, “Wilde is a master at mimicking the idiosyncrasies of the upper class, and we are simply taking that concept a giant step forward.”

Opening: Saturday, August 22, 2015. (Press Night / Opening Night) 

Shows: August 22 – September 13, 2015. Thurs. – Sat. at 8pm;  Sat and Sun. matinees at 3pm.

Venue: ATLAS Performing Arts Center: 1333 H Street NE, Washington, DC 20002

Press: Email:, call 571.216.5136, or click on Press link (at left) for Press Photos

Price: $25 - $45 (Adults – $35 Thursday & Matinees; $45 Friday & Saturday Evenings. Students & Seniors – $25 Thursday & Matinees. $35 Friday & Saturday Evenings; must show IDs at Box Office for discount.)

Tickets: Buy online at or reserve by Phone: 202.399.7993 ext. 2.

Previews: Sat. Aug. 15 (8pm), Sun. Aug. 16 (3pm), Wed. Aug. 19 (8pm), Thurs. Aug. 20 (8pm), Fri. Aug. 21 (8pm), and Sat. Aug. 22 (3pm)

Parking: Valet Parking is available at 1353 H Street NE (Rock & Roll Hotel, a few doors down). If driving, side-street parking is suggested (Maryland Ave, 10th–12th Streets, etc.). Also, the X2 Metrobus runs down H Street. Visit for schedules.

Cast: Nanna Ingvarsson (2X Helen Hayes Award Winner), Brian Hemmingsen, Danielle Davy, Bob Sheire, Graham Pilato, David Bryan Jackson, Ellie Nicoll, Amie Cazel, and Mary Suib. Full cast: TBA.

Design: Robert McNamara (Director), Michael Stepowany (Set Design/ Tech Director), Marianne Meadows (Light Design), Alisa Mandel (Costume Design), Denise Renee (Sound Design), Kate Kilbane (Stage Manager), Michelle Taylor (Asst. Stage Manager), and Lena Salins (Production Manager)

Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 in Dublin, Ireland. He attended Trinity College and Oxford University where he became an advocate for the aesthetic movement: “art for art’s sake”. Wilde’s most celebrated works include The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Critic as Artist, An Ideal Husband, Lady Windermere’s Fan, and of course his most famous play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde's flamboyant personality, dress, and rumored homosexuality caused a great stir in puritanical Victorian England. He had tremendous success as a playwright, novelist, poet, and essayist, but his reputation and career were severely marred by his conviction by the crown of “Gross Indecency” in several grueling public trials. Ultimately, Wilde was publicly humiliated and sentenced to jail with hard labor. He fell ill in prison and never recovered. Shortly after his release from prison at age 46, Oscar Wilde died in Paris, destitute and alone.

Scena Theatre brings the best international theatre to Washington, DC and to stimulates cultural exchange between theatre artists, locally and worldwide. Founded in 1987 under the leadership of Artistic Director Robert McNamara and Managing Director Amy Schmidt, Scena produces an annual season of plays, seasonally staged readings, as well as a Workshop Series aimed at developing new works from around the globe. To learn more about our mission or past stage productions, please call 703.684.7990 or visit