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Director's Notes

Richard Clifford

The School for Scandal, possibly Sheridan's greatest work, is a tale of intrigue, malice, deception, and, of course, love, in which highly sophisticated yet immoral, amoral, and immature characters are amused, abused, and ultimately learn valuable lessons.

Like the works of Shakespeare, The School for Scandal can be set in almost any time period and still be relevant. I chose to shift the setting of the play a little more than a century closer to our own, to the end of the 19th century-a period of great change, both socially and economically. This is the era of the art of Aubrey Beardsley and Gustav Klimt, the novels of Edith Wharton and Mark Twain, and the inventions and discoveries of Thomas Edison and Marie Curie. It is also the time of Oscar Wilde, who, like characters in Sheridan, led a hidden life, not far from the world of Sneerwell, Snake, and Backbite, which Wilde described so aptly as "feasting with panthers."

In The School for Scandal, we are given an insight into the machinations of a society where "the outwards shows are not themselves." People seem greater than they are as the veneer of respectability covers the hidden depth of scandal. The willful destruction of a reputation was as common at the cusp of the 20th century as it was in 1777 when the play was first produced. How true this still is today.

Richard Clifford
  Additional Information

About the Playwright: Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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