By Angela Gascho, English Department
This year, as part of their study of Oscar Wilde’s play, The Importance of Being Earnest, Mrs. Gascho’s British Literature classes tried on their own alter egos for size and a little St. Patrick’s Day fun and adventure. Students were asked to come up with a name for their “alter ego,” just like the characters of Algernon and Jack in the play. Then, Mrs. Gascho gave the name out to different groups of students to brainstorm exactly what characteristics they associate with the name. Students were asked to arrive at their class on St. Patrick’s Day (chosen specifically because of Wilde’s Irish heritage) as their “alter egos,” as defined by their classmates.
On St, Patrick’s Day, when students arrived as their “alter egos,” they participated in a “Bunbury Tea.” The Bunbury Tea is named for the famous alter ego in Wilde’s play and celebrated the emphasis of tea-time in the Victorian Era. Students were challenged to remain in character as the “alter egos” at the event and to Tweet live on Twitter accounts that they created for their alter egos. The event was a great success! Students synthesized the importance of tea-time to Victorian England, with the characters of Wilde’s tremendously famous and successful farce, and gained an appreciation for the challenges of living up to a “name,” in society or otherwise. Through a variety of discussion topics at the tea, the students had the opportunity to learn the real “importance of being earnest.”