Second Time Around for Alumna
Raissa Fleming '79 returns to campus as guest actress for Oscar Wilde's masterpiece of modern comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest, scheduled for September and October at Willamette's Kresge Theatre.
"I was a political science major at Willamette, but I spent all my nights in the theatre," Fleming says. This is her second run with the play; this time around she'll play the more mature Lady Bracknell. "Most actresses hope to play her sometime in their career," Fleming says. "As a woman, you have the younger years as an ingénue, the years in between, and then the years when you get the juicy character parts. I loved this play when I first did it, and I still love it. The social digs are delicious."
Fleming was a founding member of the acting company with the Portland Artists Repertory Theatre and is a regular at the Salem Repertory Theatre. "Working in the arts you have to be extremely flexible financially because you're not going to be guaranteed an income at any point in your career. Very few actors make big bucks, so having a liberal arts education allows you to find other avenues of work. There are opportunities to grow beyond what you planned for, and the more you know, the more you enjoy life."
Earnest is Wilde's final and most recognized play. Set in 1890s England, the play focuses on a gentleman who assumes the role of his fictitious brother Ernest in order to enjoy himself in the city without ruining his reputation at his country estate. Mistaken identity drives the hilarity that ensues in the classic tale. More than a century later, it is a respected and studied piece of literature as well as an audience favorite. The first show of Willamette's 2007-08 season is directed by Theatre Department Co-chair Susan Coromel.