Students take to stage in earnest to rescue entertainment industry

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Students at Newcastle University have created a new production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest to help save the entertainment industry decimated by Covid closures.

After ten months of preparation, the students, all members of the Newcastle University Theatre Society, have adapted Wilde’s most famous play for the stage of the Sunderland Empire for a filmed production which will be available on line from July 2-16 with all proceeds going to the Acting for Others charities, which have raised over £3.3m for those in the theatre industries hit by closures. Tickets will be available from June 25 at

The 2,000-seat Sunderland Empire will be empty for the performance, but the intervals will be filled with new material written but its director Adam Kinneen in which Wilde himself appears as a character, played by the production’s producer Leo MacNeill. The cast of 11 have been rehearsing by Zoom until recently when they were at last able to get together.

“Oscar Wilde figured out the key to immortality was art” he said. “He lived as an artist so that his work would live beyond him. When the Save the Arts movement began to gain traction in the UK I couldn’t think of anyone better than Wilde to represent why we must protect and preserve the UK's entertainment industry and all the creatives that form a part of it."


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