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An orientation for Victorian Era social calls.
Social room setup:
Act One is set in the morning room of Algernon’s flat. Similar to a modern day living room, morning rooms were used only during daylight hours, for breakfasts and impromptu social calls. At the top of the play we hear Algernon playing a piano. This was probably coming from …
The drawing room, a more formal room, used to receive and entertain guests before dinner parties and like occurrences. For the less wealthy, drawing rooms often served as the lone sitting room in the house. A drawing room of appropriate size and grandeur was called a salon. A smaller drawing room was known as a parlor. All of them served the same purpose; to formally entertain guests.
At the end of Act One, Jack and Algernon discuss all of their options for the evening after dinner: the theatre, the social club, or enjoying the sights around the city.
In Act One, Lady Bracknell informs Algernon of her plan to sit him with Mary Farquhar and her husband. Algernon’s refusal causes Lady Bracknell to uninvite guests to maintain decorum.
“ALGERNON. Tomorrow, Lane, I’m going Bunburying. . . I shall probably not be back till Monday. You can put up my dress clothes, my smoking jacket, and all the Bunbury suits …”
“GWENDOLEN. Personally I cannot understand how anybody manages to exist in the country, if anybody who is anybody does. The country always bores me to death.”
“ALGERNON. Jack, you are at the muffins again! I wish you wouldn’t. There are only two left. I told you I was particularly fond of muffins.
JACK. But I hate tea-cake.
ALGERNON. Why on earth then do you allow tea-cake to be served up for your guests? What ideas you have of hospitality!”
“GWENDOLEN. You have filled my tea with lumps of sugar, and though I asked most distinctly for bread and butter, you have given me cake.”
Garrett Anderson is STC’s 2013-2014 Artistic Fellow. He has interned at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago and Bret Adams Talent Agency in New York. Garrett holds a B.A. in Theatre Arts from The University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.