Emma Clarendon chatted to director Aylin Bozok about her production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Tower Theatre.

Hi Aylin, what made you want to direct a production of The Importance of Being Earnest? I’ve always been fascinated by Oscar Wilde and his way of story telling. I find it honest, witty, poetic and also very musical. As an opera director, one of the first pieces that caught my
attention was Salome – which is a masterpiece in my opinion. I had not directed many comedies myself but I thought that if I did, I should start with a writer I adore and that’s what happened. The Importance of Being Earnest has a very dark sense of humour which I can empathise
with and I’ve always liked plays that question identity and sense of self within society.

Could you tell me more about the concept for the production? This production’s cast is made entirely of “immigrants”. I myself am an immigrant and it was a challenge to stage a quintessentially English play (written also by an immigrant) from the perspective of an outsider. The reason for this was to emphasise the universal existentialist question of “who am I” that persistently resides in whatever we do, no matter where we are from or what language we have learned first. The idea of belonging and not belonging is not dependent on where we live but with the journey we have taken in knowing our core, our essence. I don’t believe there are any plays or pieces one person might understand better than the other, it might be understood only differently which in itself creates a new approach, a new point of view.

How did you come up with the way in which you wanted to present this well-known story? As I always do: I make sure it’s close to my heart and I find the need to say something with the piece in question. Once those are in order then “the ways” automatically happen.

What do you hope that audiences will see and understand from this new interpretation? Something about themselves maybe. I’m not venturing into trying to give big messages, I wouldn’t dare have an opinion on how people should lead their lives. If we can create a
safe space for the audience where we could also inspire them to be themselves then it’s a win. This is how I see directing personally.

What are you most looking forward to about presenting The Importance of Being Earnest for audiences? I want the audience to have fun with the production, to laugh at certain things we will
portray differently since we would have interpreted it from a different angle, and I would also like them to laugh at the things we hadn’t noticed were funny ourselves.

How have you found the experience of working on the production so far? Having done this piece last year and having some changes in the cast this year round, having new people in, new points of views and new cultural additions made it extremely enjoyable
and a mind-opening experience.

What was your own experience of discovering The Importance of Being Earnest? I’ve discovered The Importance of Being Earnest 10 years ago and the more I read it, the more I discover. This piece is truly timeless and applies to any social, political or emotional circumstances humans face on a daily basis. I feel like I’m on a constant treasure hunt reading it over and over again.

Why do you think this is a play that still resonates with people? Being able to be ourselves with ourselves and/or with the society that surrounds us is a universal struggle and is timeless. Well maybe it’s being truly ourselves that remains the basic human condition.

By Emma Clarendon

The Importance of Being Earnest will play at the Tower Theatre on the 6th January.