Skip to main content

Lady Windermere's Fan!

A catastrophe strikes the marriage of young Lady Windermere. How could her husband have an affair? Can he really be so cruel as to invite her rival to their house? Or might an unexpected kind of enduring love explai...n everything? Oscar Wilde's first stage hit combines the dazzling wit of his latest comedies with the emotional rollercoaster ride of a classic melodrama.

The Dalhousie Theatre Society production of “Lady Windemere’s Fan” should do two things: one, entertain an audience of paying theatre patrons, and two, provide students in the theatre department with an experience that will advance their skills and understanding of their craft.

Whether the play does the first is for the patron to decide. But the choice of play, despite being set in the 18th century, is still relevant for today’s audiences.

As for the second, director Marti Maraden (who wasn’t involved in the choice of the play to be performed, and therefore is somewhat objective) says that the team at Dalhousie made a fabulous decision. “The staff at Dalhousie know their students well,” she says. “They thought it would be a wonderful showcase for the graduating class.” Maraden is a veteran actress an director at both the Stratford and Shaw festivals.

Maraden outlined how it is not only theatrical skills that are being gained through the production, but also costume, set design, and technical skills.

A group of eighteen acting students is involved in the production: sixteen fourth year students and two third years. She detailed how for many of these students, though it be their graduating piece, it is their first real period piece. For her as a director, it meant teaching students to use a walking cane properly and how to use a fan.

A woman’s fan was not merely a tool for moving air, but was a system for sending messages that were inappropriate to verbalize. The importance of the fan was such that Oscar Wilde chose to include it in the title of the drama. It is not merely about Lady Windemere, but about the message that her fan sends. If a woman fanned herself slowly, it meant she was married. If she fanned herself quickly, it meant she was engaged. If she wanted to tell a man she loved him, she would draw a closed fan across her cheek.

Perhaps Lady Windemere’s actions with her fan intensify the conflict within the play. The audience members must decide how much of an individual’s morality is determined by intention, and how much of morality is determined by action. Is a suggestion of impropriety enough to make someone “bad”? Director Marti Maraden says, “It takes us the whole journey of the play to determine who the good woman is. It explores the way we judge people as good or bad.” The play raises the question whether a “good action” in the present can erase “bad actions” of the past. Despite the Victorian Era’s codification of morality, Wilde raises a question of whether it really is possible to discern whether an individual is good or bad, or whether the system is classification even holds. ~ Jen Powley

Lady Windermere's Fan until March 31 at the Sir James Dunn Theatre, Halifax.

Tickets for all shows are now available for purchase through the Dalhousie Arts Centre Box Office, in person, over the phone at 494-3820, or online. All tickets are general admission, $14 regular, $7 students and seniors.

Popular posts from this blog

Charles Hsuen

Even after almost 30 years as the voice of jazz in Halifax, Charles Hsuen shows no signs of slowing down. His passion to preserve and promote the genre to listeners of all ages cannot be overstated. Recently we spoke with Hsuen about his roots, and his life-long love of big band, bebop, swing, Sinatra and more.
What are your own roots? My roots derive from a rather mixed background. My father is of Vietnamese / Tibetan / Chinese heredity, but grew up in India, before immigrating to Canada in 1967. While my mother’s roots stem from Indo-China, she grew up in Brunei before immigrating to Canada in 1969. Both extended families ultimately settled in Toronto and my parents met and married in the early 1970's. The last name “Hsuen” (now XUAN), pronounced “Schwen,” comes from the Last Emperor of China Henry Pu Yi who ruled using the name Xuantong from 1909 until his forced abdication in 1912. The story was of a tumultuous reign, his forced resignation and eventual attempt to reclaim his ti…

Danny Bilsborough

Danny Bilsborough, NSCC alumna and owner of Danny B Studios, has spent most of her days consulting various clients on software options for their new business endeavours. 
Although she’s been involved with assessing some really exciting projects, nothing makes her happier than grabbing her brush and splashing colour on a canvas. That’s why she’s decided to take the plunge into becoming a full-time artist.
“I was always so scared to try using colour, but when my daughter was born and the opportunity came to incorporate these new palettes into her life, they quickly found their way into mine,” she says.
Colour brings light to many things and gives people a sense of enjoyment. Markus Maier explained in his academic journal titled Color Psychology that colour carries great meaning and can have an important impact on people's affect, cognition and behaviour.
Bilsborough’s favourite pieces to create are those of nature and animals – a quick look at her online Etsy page confirms this. She be…


Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the passing of Elvis Presley, International World-Champion Elvis tribute artist, Thane Dunn and his Cadillac Kings, will perform seven shows throughout the Maritimes over the coming months. Recently we spoke with the King of Kings about his passion and profession.
What are your roots? I was born in Moncton, New Brunswick. I've lived everywhere from California to Toronto but Moncton always has had a special place in my heart. My musical roots have always been early Rock and Roll and also old Country and Western like Buck Owens and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve always been a huge Jim Morrison fan. He had a lot of similar traits to Elvis.
What first inspired the Elvis tribute? I always loved the man and I’ve had people tell me I looked like him and in early bands I was in people would say I sounded like him. I had a few months leading up to the decision to do it where it seemed every time I turned on the TV there was Elvis, the radio would be playing Elvis…