FEATURES: SUDS’ Daniel Brammer discusses their new production, The Importance of Being Earnest

Discussing ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ with SUDS’ Daniel Brammer

I spoke with Daniel Brammer ahead of SUDS‘ production, The Importance of Being Earnest. We discussed fave lines, COVID-19, and just why you should join Stirling University’s Drama Society. You can listen to our chat above, or read the transcription below!

Grace: Hi guys, it’s Grace – your Head of Features for Air3 Radio! Today, I’m joined by someone else – I’m going to be talking to Daniel Brammer from SUDS about their newest production: The Importance of Being Earnest

Daniel: Hi, I’m Daniel Brammer – I’m the director for The Importance of Being Earnest! As director, I basically guide the production; that being from the actors, to leading the costuming team and the backstage crew! 

BTS: TIOBE read-through / Image credit: Calum Cownie

Grace: So, for the those that’ve never heard of The Importance of Being Earnest, could you give us a quick summary of what it’s all about?

Daniel: The Importance of Being Earnest is arguably Oscar Wilde’s most famous work, maybe only equalled by The Picture of Dorian Gray. But it was designed to be a play, a bit of a play on the comedies of the time – where it revolves around nothingness and triviality. It’s a play where a couple of young men, Jack and Algernon, adopt different personas in order to pursue the women they love… But naturally, when it comes to lying, it all comes crumbling down around them – and it’s pretty funny when it does!

Grace: Sounds like there could be a fair few life lessons in there then… Do you have a favourite line or moment from the play, or will that give away spoilers?

Daniel: I’ve got a lot of favourite lines from across the play. One of the best I think is: ‘if I am occasionally a little overdressed, I make up for it by being immensely overeducated’, which I’ve always just thought is a funny line. But actually, this production has brought out some new favourite lines. One of our actresses, Shani, is French, and when she says certain lines – like for example, there’s a certain line where she screams the word ‘CAKE!’, and it’s the most French squeak ever. I really enjoy it and its so, so funny.

BTS: The cast of TIOBE / Image credit: Calum Cownie

Grace: I feel like now you’ve pointed it out, that’s what everyone will be listening for! But it’s really interesting how different lines have become a favourite just from this experience working with the play. What is it that made you choose this play? What was it that drew you in?

Daniel: I chose to pitch this play because The Importance of Being Earnest is one of the first productions I ever worked on. I’ve worked on it a couple of times throughout high school, as audition pieces for different things that I was working on – but always as an actor. I’ve done it three times: I played Algernon Moncrieff twice, and the other male role, Jack Worthing, once. So I knew the source material very well and I just enjoyed it. So I thought: if this is going to be my first crack at directing, I’m gonna take something I know, something I know I already like, and give it my absolute best shot. And that’s what we’ve done!

Grace: I bet that previous experience was really valuable as a director, especially when it comes to giving guidance to your cast on how to really take on these roles. You mentioned this is your first time directing for SUDS, how has this experience been so far?

Daniel: It’s been a really big and really interesting change, it’s been a new kind of challenge. Because, you know, when it comes to acting, you’re thinking very… sort of, insularly. And you’re thinking ‘how do you change yourself? How do you bounce off other people? Have you taken the advice of the director?’. As the director, it’s the other way around

BTS: Daniel in action / Image credit: Calum Cownie

It’s very cerebral, in that you’re thinking about the big picture. And, you are obviously thinking about how to guide your actors and what have you, but… I suppose, it’s more like painting a picture than acting, which is more like singing a song. That’s a terrible metaphor – I don’t know why I used it but… It’s creating this large picture that all flows together nicely, then making sure the backstage stuff doesn’t catch fire, and the costumes are all perfect. 

And frankly, I’m just lucky to have had a wonderful team at my back. I’ve got an amazing costumer, and an amazing producer, and amazing backstage people. It’s just been fantastic. 

Grace: No, I don’t think that’s a bad metaphor at all! I suppose there’s added stress too, what with COVID going on and potentially risking losing some cast or your team. Have you managed to avoid any dramas with the dreaded COVID or did it end up catching up with you?

Daniel: COVID-19 is the, I think, curse word of the last 3 years, 2 years. Yeah, unfortunately COVID has been a bit of a problem. We’ve had one member of the cast, only one thankfully, come down with it during the course of the rehearsals – and they were thankfully quite a minor role, so we were able to, sort of, make do without them for the time that they were out.

BTS: Rehearsals / Image credit: Calum Cownie
Calum and Daniel: producer and director / Image credit: Calum Cownie

What we did have is five, six different roommates getting COVID, so a lot of people were taken out of commission for one or two days – which, in a three-week turnaround like we have, is a big deal. I’ve joked a couple of times that COVID is circling us like a shark… It’s not going in for the kill yet, it’s just getting the people around us. But, we’ve had to just learn to deal with it, as everyone does these days. So we had understudies doing certain things, we made preparations for if me or my producer, Calum, were taken out of the equation for a little while by COVID. So yeah, we just made do.

Grace: At least you made those preparations in case the worst of the worst was to happen – after all, the show must go on, right? So, if anyone listening was now thinking about joining SUDS and getting involved with your next production, what would you tell them?

Daniel: If someone’s thinking of getting involved with SUDS, I honestly say: absolutely come along. Even if you don’t think you’re a very good actor, in fact, especially if you don’t think you’re a good actor – you should come along! Because these people will elevate you more than anything else. It’s a society where people come together, and just have fun doing something we all love doing. 

BTS: SUDS rehearsals

And, aside from that, it’s a really welcoming group of people. I have been so, so welcomed in the three years that I’ve been here by these amazing people. I have made friendships that have lasted for as long as I’ve been here, and I’m sure will last after I leave the uni at the end of this year. It’s a fantastic society, and I have genuinely said to multiple people that I have valued my time in SUDS more than I have valued the education that I’ve paid for. I can’t give it any higher praise. It’s a wonderful society.

Grace: For those of us who want to come see The Importance of Being Earnest, where can we find you?

Daniel: If people want to come along and see The Importance of Being Earnest, it’s being shown at the MacRobert on the 22nd and 23rd of February – that’s the Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. So you can go along either to the MacRobert in the University building and just buy your tickets there. Or you can go to MacRobert online and look for The Importance of Being Earnest. I don’t know exactly how much the tickets are, but I know they’re cheap and they’re very worthwhile because it’s gonna be a fantastic show. So yeah, please come along – we really hope to see you there!

Grace: Tickets are £7, and as Daniel says, you can find them at the MacRoberts Centre itself or online at macrobertsartcentre.org. The links to purchase tickets will be on our socials – go see them!

Please go get your tickets now – they’re linked above and you’ll be in for a great night, with some really great talent! Thanks so much to SUDS, Calum and Daniel for chatting with me!

Thoughts? Opinions? Stipulations?