Finding an internationally recognized Oscar Wilde scholar to direct their upcoming presentation of Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest was quite a coup for the Menomonie Theater Guild. Perhaps more impressive was finding that scholar living less than five blocks from the Guild's Menomonie offices.
Joan Navarre, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, makes her directorial debut with the show's Oct. 11 premier. However, she is well-versed on the subject of Oscar Wilde, having published a highly-regarded book and numerous scholarly articles on the Dublin-born author and his circle.
"Throughout my career, I've researched, written and lectured on Wilde's work," Navarre said. "But it's always been in an academic environment. When the Menomonie Theater Guild approached me with the opportunity to direct Earnest, I was excited. UW-Stout stresses applied learning, and I'm delighted to have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves and help bring Wilde's work to life."
A founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, Navarre, who has lectured at both Cambridge and Oxford, has enjoyed shepherding Wilde's classic comedy from the page to the stage.
"The Menomonie Theater Guild has a clear understanding of its educational mission," said Navarre, "and [executive director] Blaine Halverson has worked tirelessly to make this project a success. We have an outstanding cast and crew, a timeless script and the opportunity to perform in a true Victorian-era theater. It couldn't get any better than this!"
The Menomonie Theater Guild's presentation of The Importance of Being Earnest runs from Oct. 11 through Oct. 20 at the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts. For dates and ticket information, call the MTG Box Office at 715-231-PLAY (7929).